Poker is a card game that requires a lot of raw mental skill. From controlling emotions to avoiding distraction, your brain is tasked with dozens of things throughout a single poker session. This is why it’s important to work on improving your mental game.

A basic poker strategy involves playing tight in the beginning and then being more aggressive as your stack grows. Beginners should focus on playing top 20% hands in six-player games and 15% in ten-player games. It’s also a good idea to use free graphs online to understand your position, bet sizes and hand ranges.

Learning to read your opponents is another crucial poker skill. The ability to pick up on tells is a valuable tool for any player, and can make the difference between break-even and winning at a high clip. You can learn a lot about your opponents by watching their eye movements, the way they hold their cards and chips, and the time it takes them to make decisions.

Once the first betting round is complete, the dealer places three cards face up on the table that anyone can use. This is called the flop. Then a new betting round begins. The person with the best 5 card poker hand wins. The best poker hands consist of a straight, a flush, or two pair. Some poker variants allow you to replace cards in your hand after the flop, but this isn’t common in most professional games.