When starting out playing poker it is best to play conservatively and at low stakes. This allows you to focus on learning the game rather than dumping all your money on bad hands. Then you can gradually increase the amount of money you put in the pot as you gain confidence and experience.
Once you have a solid grasp of the rules of poker it is time to start playing for real money. However, before doing so make sure to learn the different odds of getting a poker hand and understand the betting process. This will allow you to play confidently knowing that you have a good chance of winning the pot.
The goal of the game is to form a poker hand based on card rankings and then win the pot at the end of each betting round. The pot is the total sum of all bets placed by players in the hand.
One player, designated by the rules of the poker variant being played, makes the first bet in a betting round. Then each player must place the number of chips equal to or greater than the amount bet by the player before him. This is called making a call. If a player wishes to increase the bet amount he must raise the call.
After a player places his bet he then waits for other players to act on their hands. Once this happens he must decide whether to call or fold his hand. Players may also bluff by placing a bet that they have a superior hand, hoping that other players will call their bet and concede to them.
When deciding what to do with your hand, remember that it is generally only good or bad in relation to what the other player is holding. For example, a pair of Kings is a great hand but if another player holds A-A your kings are going to lose 82% of the time. Similarly, two 10s are great but if the flop is 10-8-6 then your 10s will only be winners 20% of the time.
During the betting phase of a hand players will take turns clockwise around the table revealing their hands. The player with the highest ranking poker hand wins the pot. If a player chooses not to reveal their hand at this point it is considered a fold and they cannot win the pot.