How to Win at Poker

Whether you’re playing for fun or making money, poker is a game that requires skill and self-control. It’s easy to lose your cool and make a bad call or bluff in the heat of the moment, but to win you must stick to your plan even when it’s boring or frustrating.

When you’re dealt a hand, be sure to study it carefully. This will help you understand the odds of getting a certain card. You can also use probability to calculate the strength of your opponent’s hands. For example, if you’re holding K-K and another player has A-A, your kings will lose 82% of the time.

The goal of poker is to build the pot (the sum of all bets) by forming the best possible hand based on your cards and the rankings of other players’ hands. If you have the highest-ranking hand at the end of each betting round, you win the pot. You can also win the pot by placing a bet that no one calls, encouraging opponents to fold their hands.

Expert players use a range-based strategy when deciding how to play their hands. This means that instead of trying to put an opponent on a specific hand, they will work out the range of hands they could have and how likely it is that their hand beats each of them. This is a much more effective way to play poker, as you can keep your opponents guessing about what you’re up to, and they will be less likely to call your bluffs.