The Basics of Poker (Texas Hold’em)

Usually played with up to ten players and a dealer, in informal games or homegames, dealing will pass from player to player.

Players each receive two down (hole) cards (known only to them) that form the basis for their hands. These cards can be used in combination with any of the five subsequently exposed community cards (used by all players) to form a five-card poker hand that determines the winner.


With the exception of No Limit Hold’em, the game rules, rather than the individual, determine the size of bets and raises. In the first two rounds of play all bets and raises are equal to the minimum bet and during the last two rounds bets and raises are limited to the maximum bet, typically double the minimum. For example: a $2-4 table, $3-6 table, $100-200 table, etc. denotes the minimum and maximum bets and raises allowed in the particular game. Betting is also limited to no more than three raises per round.

Texas Hold'em

Order of Play

  • The first player to the dealer’s left puts in the small blind while the next player to his/her left puts in the big blind, generally the big blind is double the small blind. Blinds move clockwise around the table with each ensuing game, ensuring there is always some money in the pot, this helps to create action..
  • After players have received their initial two cards the round of betting begins, clockwise from the player whose forced bet was the big blind. Players may then decide what they want to do with their hole cards. They can fold (give up), call (match the big blind), or raise , depending on the strength of their two cards.
  • After this round of betting is completed the dealer burns the top card from the remainder of the deck and deals three cards face up on the table. This is known as the flop. These are community cards used by all players. A second round of betting then begins starting to the left of the dealer button.
  • When the second round is completed the dealer again burns the top card and deals a fourth community card face up known as 4th Street or the turn. Remaining players check, fold or raise with bets and raises limited to the maximum for the table unless it is a no limit game.
  • The final round of betting begins when the last card, 5th Street or the river, is dealt face up. The winner of the game is the player with the highest five-card hand constructed with any (or none) of his two hole cards in combination with any of the five community cards. If the five community cards are the best hand he would elect to “play the board,” usually resulting in a split pot.

Poker Hands from High to Low:

  • Royal Flush – straight flush ace high
  • Straight Flush – five consecutive cards of the same suit
  • Four of a Kind
  • Full House – three of a kind plus a pair
  • Flush – five cards of the same suit
  • Straight – five consecutive cards
  • Three of a Kind also known as a set
  • Two Pair
  • Pair
  • High Card

(Aces are played high or low.)