Poker is a game that requires skill and psychology. While the outcome of a single hand certainly involves chance, over the long run the players’ actions are chosen on the basis of probability theory and game theory. The most important aspect of this skill is betting, which can be done either by raising or calling. Betting is much stronger than calling, since a bet allows you to win the pot without showing your cards. Newbies often call because they don’t know whether their hand is strong, but this play is riskier than raising.
Once everyone has their two personal cards and the dealer deals three community cards face up on the table, the first betting round begins. If your two cards are of the same value, you can choose to hit (take another card) or stay (keep your current card). The high card breaks ties when there are more than one pair.
After the betting rounds are over the dealer deals a fourth community card on the table, which is known as the “flop.” In this stage you can now raise or fold. The player with the best five-card poker hand wins the pot.
As a beginner, it’s important to play tight and only open strong hands pre-flop. This will give you the best chance to beat your opponents’ ranges of hands. As you improve, your understanding of the game will grow and you’ll be able to adjust your strategy accordingly.