Poker is a game of skill, luck and psychology. It has many catchy expressions, but none is more true than “Play the Player, Not the Cards.” It means that a strong hand can be ruined by a poor table image or bad bluffing skills, while a weak hand may be a winner if played correctly.
The first step to becoming a great poker player is understanding the game. This includes knowing the rules, understanding the probability of different hands and recognizing good tells. Then, you must develop a game plan that maximizes your chances of winning. You should also consider what type of player you are and where you play.
You should be aggressive at the tables and always raise when you have a strong hand. This will build the pot and help you win more money. It will also discourage players who are waiting for a draw that can beat your hand.
Another thing you should understand is how the odds of hitting a particular hand compare to the pot size and potential return. You can use various calculators to determine these odds. You should also learn to read your opponents’ tells, including eye movements, idiosyncrasies and betting behavior. For example, a player who calls a lot of bets may have a monster hand and be trying to disguise it. If you can read your opponents’ tells, you will be able to make smarter decisions.