Whether you are a professional or just playing for fun, you need to know the right skills to be successful at poker. This includes discipline, perseverance, and a commitment to smart game selection.

One of the most important skills is to understand what other players are doing. If you can read other player’s tells (eye movements, hand gestures, betting behavior) you will be able to make better decisions about what to do with your hands.

You also need to know when to fold and when to raise. New poker players often check too much, then bet too little when they think they have a strong hand.

It’s a good idea to get into the habit of betting aggressively when you have a strong hand, and not waiting until the flop to make your first bet. This will help you reduce the number of opponents who have to fold, which can improve your chances of winning the pot on the flop.

Another skill is to bluff, which involves betting strongly on a weak hand in the hopes of inducing other opponents with stronger hands to fold them. This can help increase the size of the pot.

You should never bluff too often, however. You’ll lose money in the long run by over-bluffing. In addition, if you over-bluff, other players will think you are strong and fold their hands. This is a common mistake for beginners, but it can be avoided by knowing when to fold.