Poker is a game of chance, but it also requires a fair amount of skill. The divide between break-even beginner players and big-time winners is not nearly as wide as many people think. It all comes down to making a few small adjustments that can carry you from merely getting by to winning at a much higher rate.
After one or more forced bets (ante and/or blind) are placed into the pot, the dealer shuffles and deals each player his cards one at a time starting with the person to his left. The player then places his bets into the pot in accordance with the rules of the specific poker variant being played.
Reading players is a critical skill in poker. There are a multitude of tells that can be detected by watching how the player handles his cards and chips and his overall body language. Watch for trembling hands, eyes staring intensely at the flop, and sudden shifts in mood.
While being aggressive is essential to basic poker strategy it is important to remember that a strong hand can easily turn into a disaster if you get bad cards on the board. A weak ace on the flop is not the end of the world if you have pocket kings, but it should be a sign that you need to be cautious with your betting. You should always be careful when playing your bluffs as well and only make them when it makes sense to do so.