Poker is a card game where players compete to form the highest-ranking hand, with the goal of winning the pot at the end of each betting round. While the outcome of any particular hand is heavily dependent on luck, players can make calculated decisions based on probability and psychology to improve their long-term expectation of winning. This is especially true in games with fixed bet sizes, where players can choose to raise or fold for strategic reasons.

A good poker strategy involves playing strong value hands, often in a way that exploits weaknesses in your opponents’ playing styles. A mistake many amateur players make is slow-playing their strong hands, which can backfire and cost them a large sum of money. Instead, top players tend to fast-play their strong hands in order to inflate the pot size and frighten off other players waiting for draws that could beat them.

In addition to playing strong hands, top players also practice smart game selection and know how to read their tables. They recognize when a table is bad and try to avoid it, or they exit the table and find a better one. They also pay attention to how their opponents play and look for tells in their behavior, such as facial expressions or body language.

If you’re not in the best position to call, it’s important to learn how to fold. This is important for maximizing the amount of money you can win from a given poker session, and it’s also necessary to protect your bankroll against bad beats.