Poker is a card game in which players bet chips and either win or lose them. There are many variants of poker, but the basic rules remain the same. Players put in a small amount of money, called a blind or an ante, and then are dealt cards which they keep secret from their opponents. Then there are several betting intervals, in which a player can choose to check (pass on the chance to bet), call (match the previous player’s bet) or raise (put more than the last player).
If you have a strong hand pre-flop, it is often wise to make a bet to force out weaker hands. This can also improve your odds of winning if you are holding a strong hand.
However, it is important to avoid deluding yourself and letting your emotions get in the way of a good decision. Two of the biggest emotions that kill poker players are defiance and hope (we’ll get to those in a bit). Defiance is when you decide to play a bad hand just because it feels like it has potential; hoping is when you bet too much on a weak hand in the hopes that the turn or river will make it a winning one. This type of thinking is often based on denial of the math and statistics that can improve your poker strategy, as well as the fact that your opponent may be displaying tells that you can read.