Experiencing a boom in popularity due to the broadcasting of poker tournaments, the game has long been associated with bluffing, cunning and of course winning. Whether played at home with friends or in a casino for the big win, poker is an enthralling game, but to really get to grips with it, it is important to know the basics. Laid out here are just some of the important rules to know before getting too stuck in. As a starting point, it is important to know what the different hands are and their values. The entire game is based on having the highest possible hand so it is therefore important to understand these. Once these are memorized you can then go onto mastering some of the other aspects of the game. However, even before play begins, there are a number of vital elements to consider that will greatly improve your game play from the outset. For example, it is always important to play with a clear head. Focus is key when playing poker so it is not a good idea to go into a game angry, sad or drunk. This will only serve to lower the level of your game. Focus on the dealer at the start and learn more about live games in order to hone your skills. Other rookie mistakes include playing hands too often or simply bluffing too much. Both of these will be detrimental to your game and will really only serve to point you out as a newcomer by more experienced players. Whilst bluffing is synonymous with poker, it is actually a much better tactic to avoid it altogether. Experienced players will spot your tell very rapidly and use that against you. Once you have some of these aspects down pat, you can then go onto improve your strategy within the game and also your discipline in order to bring your game level up.