Poker is a card game with the aim of making the best five-card hand. Although there are many different variants of the game, all of them share the same basic rules. Each player is dealt two cards and betting rounds take place over a series of hands with the pot winner being the last player remaining or whoever wins a showdown. While the game involves a lot of chance and psychology, a professional poker player bases their decisions on probability and game theory.
A good poker player is able to make profitable decisions at all times. This is because they understand the basics of the game and can use theoretically balanced ranges to play against 99.9% of players in a way that maximizes their winnings.
This means they play their strong value hands as straightforwardly as possible – betting and raising often to force weaker hands out of the pot. They also know how to bet correctly when their hands are not strong enough and can bluff with the right frequency.
They don’t get too attached to their strong hands either. If they deal themselves a pair of kings, for example, and the flop is A-8-5 they should still be wary. Even though they have a good hand, it is likely that someone will hit a flush or straight on the river and they will lose. This is why it is so important to balance your risk and rewards.