Poker is one of the most popular card games in the world, played socially for pennies or matchsticks and professionally for thousands of dollars. While the game can involve a lot of luck, winning players realize that there is also a substantial amount of skill required to beat opponents.

Before the cards are dealt, each player must place an initial contribution, known as the ante, into the pot to begin betting. The rules of the particular poker variant being played will determine who makes this first bet and how much to make. Minimizing losses with bad hands and maximizing wins with strong ones is the underlying skill that poker requires.

The best way to improve your poker skills is by reading strategy books and discussing hands with other winning players. Finding players who play at the same stakes you do and starting a weekly group chat or meeting to discuss difficult spots can be an effective way to learn different strategies and see how other winning players think about the game.

Having late position allows you to manipulate the price of the pot during later betting streets by raising when you expect your hand to be ahead of your opponent’s calling range. By playing this type of aggressive game, you will get more value out of your strong value hands and force your opponents into making costly mistakes. In the long run, this will lead to your bankroll increasing faster.