Poker is a game that’s not only fun and social, but it also has a serious element of strategy involved. But it can be difficult to know where to start if you’re looking to learn the rules of this popular card game.

The object of poker is to make the best decisions (bet, call, or fold) based on the information at hand, with the goal of maximizing long-term expected value. To do this, you must understand the odds of a winning hand and the probability that other players will call or raise your bets.

First, you must decide how much to bet. This is called your bankroll. If you’re new to poker, it’s a good idea to start small. This will allow you to play a lot of hands and practice your skills without risking too much money. Once you’ve become accustomed to the rules of the game, you can gradually increase your stakes.

A good place to start is by finding a home poker game in your area. These are usually held in private homes, and can be quite informal. Generally, there will be a small amount of money that must be put up by all players before they are dealt in. The ante is often a dollar or less.

Once everyone has an ante in the pot, betting begins. The first player to the left of the dealer places a bet and can choose to call, raise or fold. If you have a good hand, you may want to raise your bet to get more chips into the pot.

Then, the dealer deals two more cards face up on the table – these are community cards that anyone can use. The second round of betting begins and you can now compare your hand with the other players’ hands. A pair of cards of equal rank beats a single high card, while a full house beats a straight.

Another aspect of the game that’s important to master is position. Essentially, being in position means you act last during the pre-flop phase of a hand. This gives you a better chance of winning by raising more hands and avoiding actions that leave you in “out of position” no man’s land.

Finally, one of the most effective ways to improve your poker game is to hire a coach. A good coach can point out your mistakes, teach you to manage your bankroll and offer a fresh perspective on the game. They can also help you move from a mediocre player to a winning one in the shortest time possible. They can even help you play more aggressively, which is a great way to improve your chances of winning. You can also look for a poker course online that teaches you how to play. These courses are usually cheaper than hiring a poker coach and are geared towards specific poker formats, like tournaments or 6-max cash games. However, they are still not as cheap as playing for real money in a casino or a local home game.