Poker Rules: Texas Holdem
In the beginning of a Texas Holdem game, the dealer will shuffle a 52-card deck. The dealer doesn’t play, neither in casinos nor online poker rooms. On the internet there is a button (D), named dealer-button, that moves clock-wise. The player holding the button is the one who acts last in a betting round. The Dealer position is often referred to as Button.
The pot is the place where the money you bet goes to. Any bet goes to the pot. There can be side-pots when three or more players are involved in a hand and one of them doesn’t have any money left to bet. In this case, the main pot will keep all the money from previous bets. The money from the players that still have money left to bet will go to a side-pot. In case the player who had no more money to bet wins the hand, he will only receive his share of the pot.
In Hold’em there are two obligatory bets, which are called Blinds.
The blinds are the minimum bet possible in any game. The game starts with the two first players to the left of the Button automatically placing the blinds. The first of those players places the small blind, and the following player, clock-wise, places the Big Blind. Usually the SB costs half of the BB, but that is not always true. This happens before the cards are actually dealt. The blinds exist to make sure every round will have money involved. In tournaments, as they progress, another kind of obligatory bet comes into play. They are called “Antes”, and every player automatically places them before every single hand. Tournaments usually follow certain blind structure, meaning they cost more after each level. There are different types of blind structures depending on what tournaments you play.
Each player receives two cards face-down. These are called Hole Cards or Pocket Cards. The objective of the game is combining those cards with five cards that will be shown on the board to make the best five card poker hand. Out of the seven cards (Hole Cards + Board), you can only use five. This hand can be made by two HC and 3 BC, 1 HC and 4 BC, or, occasionally, only the board. In case you only use the board, it means you can only either lose or tie. The player with the best hand wins the pot.
First betting round
This round happens immediately after the cards are dealt. First player to act is the one that follows the Big Blind, clock-wise. The last to play is the one in the Big Blind position.
The first player to act has three options: Call, Raise or Fold.
In case the player makes the call, he pays the same amount as the big blind.
In order to raise he has to add some extra money. The value varies according to the kind of game. If it’s a limit game, the value is obviously limited. If it’s a pot-limit game, it will be limited to the pot size. If it’s a no limit game, you can bet your whole stack, but the minimum raise is double the BB. Let’s say the BB costs 20, you should raise to at least 40.
"Fold" means giving up the hand. You discard that hand and won’t invest any more money in the pot.
After the first betting round, the dealer deals three cards face-up to the board. This is called Flop.
Second betting round
This round happens right after the flop is dealt. In this round the player closest to the left of the dealer, still in the game, is first to act. The last to act is the Button, or anyone to the right of the Small Blind that is still in the hand. Besides Calling, Raising and Folding, players can also Check. That option means you pass your turn, or “calls the bet of zero”. If someone bets you can Call, Raise or Fold.
If someone raised a bet before you, you can always re-raise. After the round every player still in the hand must have placed the same amount of money, unless certain player didn’t have enough money to pay for the opponent’s bet. In this case, he’s calling just the amount of money he had. Let’s say someone placed a $100 bet on the flop, and our Hero had only $50 in his stack. If he makes the call, it’s like if he called a $50 bet.
After the second betting round is complete, the dealer deals one more card face-up to the board. This is called Turn.
Third betting round
In limit games, the betting limits double. The betting order follows the pattern of the previous betting round.
Once the third betting round is complete, the dealer deals the 5th and last card face-up to the board. This is called River.
Fourth betting round
This is the betting round before the Showdown. The betting order is the same as in previous rounds.
This is when players turn their cards up to compare their hands and determine the winner. In case they tie, the pot is split among the winners. Learn the poker hand ranking.