Poker is a game of chance, but it also involves a great deal of skill. The top players have a deep understanding of probability and game theory and are able to adapt their play to the conditions at hand. They also know how to read their opponents and use this knowledge to their advantage.
Poker can be played with any number of players, from two to fourteen. The object of the game is to win the “pot,” which is the sum total of all bets made during a single deal. The pot is won either by forming the best poker hand or by making a bet that no other player calls.
During a poker deal, there are one or more betting intervals, which vary depending on the type of game being played. During each betting interval, one player has the privilege or obligation to place chips (representing money) into the pot equal to the amount placed in by the players who have come before him. If a player chooses not to call, he is said to drop, which means that he no longer competes for the pot.
Advanced players can tell a lot about their opponent by looking at how many chips they place into the pot. For example, if they place a small bet early, it is usually a bluff. They also look at the size of bets that other players make and try to determine whether they are calling, raising or shoving. This is called reading an opponent’s range.