Poker is a game of chance, but with skill and discipline you can play it better than others and make money. The divide between break-even beginner players and big-time winners is not as wide as people believe and it’s usually just a few small adjustments that make all the difference. The biggest adjustment is to start viewing the game in a more cold, detached, mathematical and logical way rather than the emotional and superstitious manner that most beginners play it.

The first step to becoming a good poker player is understanding the game rules and hand rankings. You’ll also need to learn about the impact of your position at the table. Ideally you want to be able to maximise your winning hands and minimise your losses on the losing ones. This is called MinMax and it’s an essential skill for any poker player.

Another essential skill is learning to read tells. These are the body language clues that show whether your opponent has a strong or weak hand. They include the use of a hand over the mouth, excessive sweating, flushing of the face, eye blinking, sighing and nostril flaring. These signs will help you work out your opponents’ strength of their hands and make more accurate calls.

In addition to developing these skills, playing poker will help you become more patient and improve your decision-making ability. You will become better at mental arithmetic and learn to keep your emotions in check, which will be helpful in many areas of your life.