Poker is a card game of skill and chance. Players place an ante and/or a pair plus wager before receiving three cards face down. Then they determine whether to play their hand against the dealer or fold. A good poker player will place a “play” wager equal to the amount they put as their ante. Optimum strategy says to play all hands greater than Queen, Six and Four and to fold all hands worse.

Taking risks is an important part of the game of poker, and like other risk-taking activities, it’s not necessarily something you can get comfortable with immediately. It can help to practice on smaller scales with lower stakes and learn from your mistakes. This will build up your comfort level with risk over time.

Another way to improve your poker strategy is to learn how to read other players’ tells. Watching their eye movements, idiosyncrasies and betting patterns can give you a good idea of what they’re holding. For example, if a player calls your bet frequently but makes an unexpected raise, they could be holding an incredible hand.

Another critical aspect of poker strategy is learning to control your emotions. This is an area where many new players struggle. They may be tempted to recover their losses by making big bets, but this is often counterproductive. It’s better to be patient and play your best hands. Also, it’s helpful to set a bankroll – both for each session and over the long term – so that you don’t end up going on tilt.