It’s only natural for any new card player to ask how to play hold’em poker. What most people really want to know however is how do you play Texas hold’em well! Don’t feel silly for asking either question, at some point all players had to learn the rules of poker. We’re going to cover the basics in this post, and then I’ll show you some of the quickest ways to go from poker newbie to holding your own at the tables.
A typical hold’em table consists of 9 or 10 players. Play always proceeds in a clockwise direction. One player is designated as the ‘Dealer’. The first player to the left of the dealer is designated the ‘small blind’ and the second player to the left of the dealer is the ‘big blind’. The blind is a bet similar to an ‘ante’ which is made without players having seen or even being dealt their cards, and is designed to stimulate betting later in the hand.
The players are then dealt two cards face down starting with the small blind (one card for each player around the table, then a second). The cards in each players hand are called ‘hole cards’. After seeing their cards, the player to the left of the big blind commences the first betting round. That player and subsequent players can fold (give their cards to the dealer), call (match the big blind or the bet of the last player), or raise the blind (put in an amount at least double the big blind). If no raise is made when betting reaches the big blind, that player can either bet, or check (neither bet nor fold).
Once the first betting round is complete, the dealer places one ‘burn’ card facedown, and proceeds to deal three cards face up in the middle of the table. The cards in the centre are known as ‘community cards’. These first three cards are called ‘the flop’.
Another round of betting then occurs, noting of course that if a player bets, or raises, a subsequent player can only fold, call, or re-raise and cannot simply check.
The forth community card is called the ‘turn’. After it is dealt, another round of betting commences.
The fifth and final community card is called the ‘river’. The final round of betting follows the river. Once the river has been dealt, players know the strength of their own hand.
After the final round of betting, if there are two or more people remaining in the pot, those players must show their cards. Note: players in Texas hold’em may use any of the community cards and their hole cards to make the best hand. They may use one, both, or neither of their hole cards. The player with the strongest hand using the five strongest cards available wins the pot.At the completion of a hand, the dealer button, big and small blinds move one seating position clockwise and the players now on the small and big blinds must make their forced bets. A new hand then commences after shuffling.
If all save one player folds their cards, that player wins the pot and is not required to show their hand. In How to Play Hold’em Poker Part 3 we’re going to look at poker hand rank to make certain you know which hand beats which.