Poker is a game of chance, but it also relies on considerable skill. To win a hand, you must be able to read the other players and adjust your strategy accordingly. The best way to develop quick instincts is to practice and observe other experienced players. You should also do several shuffles to ensure that the cards are mixed correctly.

Once all players have 2 hole cards, there is a round of betting. The first player to act must either call (match the amount of the previous bet) or raise it. A player who chooses to raise must put chips into the pot equal to the amount of the last raise, or else fold.

If a player has a strong enough hand to beat the other players, it is usually better to raise when possible. This will force weaker hands out of the game and increase the value of your pot. Alternatively, you can try to bluff your way into winning the pot.

It is common to establish a “kitty” for the game by cutting one low-denomination chip from each pot in which there is more than one raise. This is used to pay for new decks of cards and food and drinks during the game. When the game ends, any chips left in the kitty are distributed to all players who are still in the pot.