How to Bet Smart in Poker

Whether you’re playing poker live, in the real world or online, you need to focus on the game and think carefully about your decisions. You can’t just play on autopilot and hope for the best — even advanced players make this mistake too often.

After the flop is dealt and the first 3 community cards are placed on the table, each player has a choice to check (make no bet), call, or raise. Each round of betting, known as a “round,” lasts until all players have either folded or called.

Each time a player makes a bet, they must put into the pot at least as many chips as the player to their left. They can also “raise” (put in more than the player to their left) or “drop” (fold).

Beginners tend to be calling stations and table sheriffs, so watch out for them making large calls on every street with easily beaten hands. They may also slow play, which means they’re not willing to risk losing all their chips to make a strong hand.

This style is dangerous because it prevents you from putting yourself in positions where the chances of winning are high. It also results in your opponents taking advantage of you by bluffing more, and it limits the number of times you can bluff them. You need to be better than the other players at the table, not just half of them.