Poker is a card game played between a player and a dealer. It is a game of chance, but its long-run expectations are determined by decisions made on the basis of probability, psychology and game theory. While the outcome of any particular hand is largely dependent upon luck, players voluntarily place money into the pot because they believe that bets have positive expected value or because they are trying to bluff other players for various strategic reasons.

In addition to the basic rules of poker, a successful player must understand how to read their opponents. This includes observing physical tells and learning how to analyze the betting patterns of their opponents. It is also important to develop a good strategy that takes into account the different situations in the game, such as being in the cut-off position versus Under the Gun (UTG).

The most common mistake new players make in poker is playing it too safe. This means raising only when they have a strong hand and avoiding calling bets when they don’t. This style is predictable and can be exploited by opponents. It can also lead to missing out on a big win.

It’s also important to be able to manage your emotions. If you’re worried about losing your buy-in, this will influence your decision making and will affect how well you play. This is why it’s important to start at the lowest stakes and move up gradually.