Poker is a popular card game, that’s easy to learn but difficult to master. Although it is a casino game, poker is also a game of strategy. Additionally, you need to be skilled in reading other people to decided when to bluff, when to fold and when to call someone else’s bluff. In this post we discuss the most popular variant played – Texas Hold’em Poker. While there are many similarities between the different variations, each has its own rules which should be known before playing. If you have never played this game before, you should start learning the basic rules before looking at basic strategies or developing your own. If you are more advanced, you can check our article about advanced poker strategies.
Texas Hold’em Poker Hand Rankings
Playing Texas Hold’em Poker
The goal in Texas Hold’em Poker is to form the strongest 5-card hand possible. Therefore you can use both your hand cards along with three community cards (face up cards in the middle of the table), one hand card in combination with four community cards or no hand card and only the five community cards.
To determine who begins the game, a single card is dealt face up to each player. The player with the highest card will receive the dealer button first. The dealer position is indicated by a white plastic chip referred to as button. After each play, or hand, the dealer button rotates clockwise.
Before the pocket cards are dealt and the game starts, the two forced bets, called the Small Blind and the Big Blind need to be made. The Small Blind is the position left of the dealer, followed by the Big Blind. The amount of the blinds is predetermined and usually the Small Blind is half the Big Blind.
The game starts with the players receiving two private cards, also called Hole Cards or Pocket Cards, after which there is the first betting round. Then three community cards, called The Flop, are dealt face up, followed by a second betting round. Afterwards a fourth community card, called The Turn, is dealt face up, again followed by a betting round. After the fifth community card, called The River, is dealt the fourth and final betting round starts. At the showdown each player, who is still in the game, needs to show his hand in order to win the pot. The player with the strongest hand, according to the ranking list shown above, wins.
Each player is dealt two cards, also called pocket cards.
1st Betting Round
Starting with the player to the left of the big bling, each player (one after another, clockwise around the table) can take one of the following actions:
- Check – bet nothing (not available in the 1st betting round, as you must either match or raise the big blind, or fold)
- Call – match a bet or a raise
- Raise – increase the size of the current bet
- Re-raise – making another raise in the same betting round
- Fold – discard your hand and leave the current game round
The sum of money bet during each hand is called the pot. After each betting round, all bets go into the pot until someone wins.
The dealer deals three community cards face up after burning one card. These three cards are called the flop, while all five community cards together are called The Board.
2nd Betting Round
Now each player, starting with the player left of the dealer button, can take another action as described above.
After the 2nd betting round, the dealer burns another card before dealing the fourth face up community card.
3rd Betting Round
Another betting round, where you can take the same actions as in the 2nd betting round.
Once the 3rd betting round is over, the last community card, called The River is dealt after the dealer has burnt another card.
Final Betting Round
Now, every player who hasn’t fold by now has another chance to either raise, re-raise, call, fold or check.
After the final betting round is over, the showdown begins if at least two players remain in the game. At the showdown every player who is still in the game, starting with the bettor or last raiser, needs to show their hand in order to win the pot. The player with the strongest hand, according to the ranking list shown above, wins. In case of a tie, the pot is split evenly among the winning hands.
If at any time during the game only one player remains, he/she wins the pot without having to show any cards. So you do not always have to have the best hand to win the pot. You could also bluff and get others to fold better hands.