Poker is a card game played by two or more players. The goal is to form a winning hand by ranking your cards, and then claim the pot at the end of the betting round. The cards are dealt face up in the first round of betting (called the flop) and then again in the last betting round (called the river). Each player must choose whether to call, raise or fold based on the strength of their hands.
The first step to becoming a successful poker player is to commit to studying the game. This means dedicating time to improving your poker game through self-examination, reading books and/or discussing strategy with other winning players.
Another key skill is reading your opponents. This requires noticing subtle details about their body language, bet sizes and betting patterns. It also includes learning their idiosyncrasies, such as the way they move their chips and cards, eye movements and other tells.
A good poker player must have the discipline to play only in games that match their bankroll and skills level. It is not uncommon for even the most experienced poker player to lose money if they play in poor games or with bad partners.
Finally, a successful poker player must have patience to wait for optimal hands and proper position. They must also be able to calculate pot odds and percentages quickly. This will allow them to make smart bets that give them positive expected value.