How to play

Below we give you a simple lesson on how the game is played. To review the poker hand rankings check here.

The mechanics of Texas Hold’em are relatively simple to master, however developing a winning poker strategy takes time and skill.

For the example below we describe the action at a Limit poker table, for a No-Limit game there are no minimum/maximum bet values – players can bet and raise by as many chips as they have available.

Each player in the game is dealt two personal cards and then five community cards are turned up on the board. You make the best five card hand using any combination of the seven cards.

To start a new hand, two “Blind” bets are put up or “Posted.” The player immediately to the left of the dealer puts up or “posts” the small blind which half the minimum bet. The player to the left of the small blind posts the big blind which is equal to the minimum bet. The rest of the players do not put up any money to start the hand. Because the deal rotates around the table, each player will eventually act as the big blind, small blind and dealer.

The Opening
Each player is dealt two cards face down with the player on the small blind receiving the first card and the player with the dealer button getting the last card. The first betting round begins with the player to the left of the big blind either putting in the minimum bet to “Call” the blind bet, or putting in double the minimum bet to “raise” the big blind or folding his hand. The betting goes around the table in order until it reaches the player who posted the small blind. That player can call the bet by increasing his small blind bet to match the value of the previous call or raise. The last person to act is the big blind. If no one has raised, the dealer will ask if they would like the option. This means the big blind has the option to raise or just “check.” By checking the player does not put in any more money. A rookie mistake sometimes occurs here. Because the blind is a live bet, the player with the big blind has already put his bet in. I have seen some players throw their cards in not realizing that they are already in the hand. Another rookie mistake is betting or folding your cards when it is not your turn. You must wait before you act.

The Flop
After the first betting round is completed, three cards are dealt and turned face up in the middle of the table. This is known as the “Flop.” These are community cards used by all the players. Another betting round begins with the first active player to the left of the dealer button. The bet for this round is the same value as the minimum pre-flop bet.

The Turn
When the betting round after the flop is completed, the dealer turns a fourth card face up in the middle of the table. This is called the “Turn.” The bet after the turn is now double that of the flop round, and begins again with the first active player to the left of the dealer.

The River
Following the betting round for the turn, the dealer will turn a fifth and final card face up. This is called the “river,” and the final betting round begins with the same minimum bet as the turn round.

The Showdown
To determine the winner, the players may use any combination of their two hole cards and the five cards on the “Board” (Table) to form the highest five-card hand. In some rare cases the best hand will be the five cards on board. Don’t count on this happening too often. In that case the active players will split the pot.

Useful Resources
For a nice animated lesson on the mechanics of poker check this website.

To play ‘Heads Up’ (one on one) against ‘Scoby’ the robot for free check scobypoker.com.

Click here to visit our very own strategy guide. For ideas on further reading to develop a profitable style check our Poker Resources section.