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How to play Poker

Basic Rules


Despite pokers many variations, all games follow the same basic pattern of play.
Poker betting happens in turn i.e. in a clockwise direction. If you are neither of the blinds, when it is your turn to act you will have the option to fold, check or raise. If you are not "opening the pot" (the first voluntary bettor) then you have the option to Call as well.

The blinds and the ante are forced bets that create an initial stake for the players to contest.

The ante is the equal amount of chips put into the pot by each player before each betting round. The blind is forwarded by one or more players, typically the 2 players to the left of the dealer button, the small blind and the big blind respectively.

Folding means you muck your hand and forfeit your stake at the pot.

Muck is not to show your hand if you are one of the players left in the showdown and have won or lost the pot.

Checking is basically a pass, it can only be made on an unopened betting round; it indicates an ongoing interest in the pot and reserves your right to raise or Call in later rounds.

Calling means you match the current bet or raise in the pot. A betting round ends only when all players have an equal stake in the pot or when a bet or raise goes uncalled; in which case the player who made the bet or raise takes the pot.

Raising is to literally raise the size of the bet required to stay in the game. All subsequent players are then required to bet equal to this new amount which can be re-raised by anyone within the same betting round. General poker rules state that a raise should be equivalent to the previous bet or raise, unless the amount you’re raising by is your total stack, in which case the raise is whatever you have on the table.

The number of raisesin a single betting round in usually capped by a house rule of some sort; it’s usually 3 or 4 raises while pot-limit and no-limit games have uncapped raising.

Capped raising normally falls away anyway when only 2 people are left at a table.


Deck of Cards

A deck consists of 52 cards. These cards are divided into four suits, each of which contains 13 ranks.

The four suits

The suits are all of equal value. That is to say, no suit is higher than any other suit.

The thirteen ranks

In poker, the ace is the highest card and the 2 (deuce) is the lowest. However, the ace can be used as a low card to form the straight 5432A.



Royal flush
It’s the highest poker hand. It consists of AKQJ10 of the same suit.
Straight flush
Five cards in a sequence of same suit.
Four of a kind
Four cards of the same rank with a kicker.
Three cards of the same rank and two cards of the same rank.
Five cards of the same suit.
Five cards in a sequence but not of the same suit.
Three of a kind
Three cards in the same rank and two kickers of different rank and suit.
Two – pair
Two cards of the same rank an another two cards with the same rank plus an kicker card.
pair (two of a kind)
Two cards of the same kind with three kicker cards of a different rank.
Kicker/high card
If you have the same hand as another player the rank of the kicker card estimates who wins.
For example: Player A: Kc, Kh, 6s, 6h, Qh
Player B: Ks, Kh, 6s, 6h, 9d
Player A wins the hand with Q kicker.


Betting Structure

Fixed Limit poker

In a game of limit poker, the amount you are allowed to bet is limited to a specific size. This limit is in the name of the poker game (3/6, 20/40, ect.).

So, for example, if you're playing in a '1/2 limit' game, the minimum sizes of the bets would be:

  • Pre-flop (before the flop): 1 chip
  • On the flop (when the three first community cards have been dealt): 1 chip
  • On the turn (when the fourth community card has been dealt): 2 chips
  • On the river (when the fifth and last community card has been dealt): 2 chips
  • Note that you can't make a smaller bet than the big blind. Furthermore, all raises must be done in increments of the betting amounts.

For example, in a 1/2 limit game, the raises will be as follows, limited to four times the first bet that was made:

  • Pre-flop: 1 chip, 2 chips, 3 chips up to 4 chips
  • On the flop: 2 chips, 3 chips up to 4 chips
  • On the turn: 2 chips, 4 chips, 6 chips up to 8 chips
  • On the river: 2 chips, 4 chips, 6 chips up to 8 chips

No-Limit poker

In this type of game, there is no limit to the maximum bet that you can make in any betting round. However, there is a minimum bet that is equal to the big blind. The minimum raise amount must be at least as much as the previous bet or raise in the same round. For example, if the first player to act bets 10 chips then the second player must raise a minimum of 10 chips. There is no maximum raise - you can raise as much as you want. However, if you wish to Call a bet but don´t have the chips to cover it, you´ll be "all-in". At this point, you can only win the portion of the pot covered by your chips.


Pot Limit poker

It is quite similar to no-limit poker but there are certain key differences.
In pot-limit poker, players may bet any amount from the size of the blind to the size of the pot. The pot includes the sum of all bets and raises made during the current round.
Here´s an example: The pot in the center of the table contains 100 chips. On a first round, one player bets 20 chips, and two following players each Call this 20 chip bet. The fourth player could Call the 20 chip bet and then raise by a maximum of 180 chips. This raise matches the 100 chips in the pot, the first 20 chip bet, the two additional 20 chip calls and the player’s own 20 chip Call, which together add up to a 180 chip raise.


Texas Hold´em

Order of play

  • The two players left of the dealer begin by posting the blind bets .
  • Two hole cards are dealt to each player, face-down. Then there is a first round of betting ­ the options are to fold, bet, or raise.
  • Only one bet, and three raises per player are allowed on the first round.
  • Players cannot "check" in the first round, as blinds are live bets, not antes. The only player with the option of checking is the one who posted the big blind, as long as no one else has raised .
  • Three community cards (the "flop" ) are dealt face-up in the centre of the table. All community cards are active for all players and can be used in combination with each player’s two cards.
  • Second round of betting - options are to check, fold, bet, or raise .
  • Fourth community card (the "Turn") is dealt face-up.
  • Third round of betting - options are to check, fold, bet, or raise.
  • If at this stage there are still at least two players in the remaining in the hand, the fifth and final community card(the "River" ) is dealt face-up.
  • Final round of betting follows.
  • The Showdown All remaining players then create the best five-card hand possible.

    You can use:
    Both hole cards and three community cards.
    One hole card and four community cards
    All five community cards

    The best hand wins the pot. If two or more players have the same winning hand, the pot is split equally between them.

Betting Rules

Playing and betting proceeds in a clockwise direction.

The two players immediately to the left of the dealer post the blind bets.

Small Blind (the player who sits left of the Dealer) bets an amount equal to half the lower betting limit.

Big blind (the player who sits to the left of the small blind) posts an amount equal to the lower betting limit.

Betting stakes in the game determine the blinds. In a game of 2 and 4 betting stakes, the small blind is 1 chip, and the big blind is 2 chips.

The blind bets in Texas Hold'em are considered as active bets, and therefore, players have the option to check, fold, Call, and raise when the betting action returns to their position.

Only one bet, and three raises per player are allowed on the first round.

Players cannot "check" in the first round, as blinds are bets, and not antes. (The exception is the player who posted the big blind, as long as no one has raised.)

Second and subsequent betting rounds - options are to check, fold, bet, or raise.

All bets must be placed according to the game’s betting increments.

There are four possible betting rounds in Texas Hold'em poker. Each bet and raise during the first two rounds is set at the lower limit of the stakes structure, and for the last two rounds at a higher limit structure.

The maximum number of bets allowed per player during any betting round in Texas Hold’em poker is four. This includes a (1)bet, (2) raise, (3) re-raise, and (4) cap. The term cap is used to describe the 3rd raise in a round since further raises are not allowed. Once capped, players only have the options of calling or folding.

In betting rounds where players have folded, the first active player to the left of the dealer is first to act.

Joining a poker games

To ensure fairness for all players, new players entering a Texas Hold'em game are required to post the equivalent of the big blind if they wish to participate in the next hand. All players have the option of sitting out and waiting for the actual big blind to come around to their position before starting play.

By preventing players from constantly entering poker games in a late position and leaving before they’re required to post a blind, these rules stop potential abuse of the online environment.

Texas Holde’m Tips

Although the Texas Hold’em rules are easily learned and deceptively simple, it is still a game that requires a certain amount of skill. Before you rush into playing Texas Hold’em, it might be wise to take a few basic things to heart. This will not only improve your chances of winning, but will allow you to avoid wasting your money hoping for an improvement on a hand you should never have played in the first place.

  • Be aware of your position
    Position is vital in Texas Hold’em. There is less margin for error when you’re sitting in early position (closer to the dealer button) than if you’re last to act. If you bet with a marginal hand pre-flop from early position you can easily end up being raised or even re-raised by players betting after you. This puts you in the unpleasant position of immediately having to decide whether your hand is worth the extra two bets in order to see the flop, or whether you should fold and lose the bet you already made. In late position you can see it coming and fold without having to waste a bet.

  • Fit or fold
    If the flop doesn’t fit your hand, that is, improve it, then don’t hesitate to fold. You'll be tempted to hold on past the flop in the hope of improving your hand on the river, but you’ll end up missing more than you'll catch, and lose money overall. You will of course have to endure watching other players make winning hands on the river with hands that weren’t helped by the flop, and will have to resist the urge to hold on to drawing hands for longer. You’ll also see flops that make the hand you’ve just thrown away, but this happens less often than you would think. Once you've folded, forget about the cards you had.

  • Be disciplined
    This is possibly one of the most difficult aspects of playing poker. It means throwing away hands that you might prefer to hold onto in the hope that the flop will give you a shout. It also means folding after the flop if it doesn't fit your hand, or if it brings cards that threaten what you thought was a good hand. If you're holding a pair of Jacks and the flop brings an Ace, you can be pretty sure someone has another. At this point your pair is most likely not the winning hand so have the discipline to discard them- you'll lose more money than you'll win by holding on and hoping for another Jack on the turn or river.

  • Be able to read the board
    As soon as the flop hits the board, work out what the best potential hand is, and compare what you have, or what you think you might get to this hand. If you don’t do this you run the risk of spending chips drawing to a hand that is already beaten. This is known as "drawing dead". Even seasoned players fall victim to tunnel vision brought on by having drawn the nut flush, and miss the full house that beats them.

  • Bet carefully
    Five of the seven total cards can be seen after the flop. At this point, you will have a good indication of how strong your hand will be in the final round. Consider your cards, and bet carefully. Staying for the Turn and the River demands that you either have a strong hand, a draw to a potentially winning hand, or good reason to believe that betting aggressively in a future round may cause your opponents to fold.

  • Think before you act
    As a general rule, don't continue beyond the flop without diverse possibilities - a strong pair with a decent side-card, strong overcards, or a straight or flush draw. If you flop a draw, stick with it as long as the pot promises a greater pay off than the odds against making your hand.

  • Leader of the pack
    Although Ace-King is a terrific starting combination, it generally needs to catch a flop with either an Ace or King in it to play aggressively.

  • Position is power
    When you must act before most of your opponents, play few hands. Acting last in Hold'em is like batting last in baseball. It's a big advantage. In fact, hands that you’d routinely fold from early position might be raising hands if you are last to act.

  • Consider combinations
    Carefully consider how the communal cards can combine with your two hidden pocket cards to create a winning hand. By the same token, consider what possible hands your opponents could be holding.

  • Leave your ego at the door
    Call it quits when necessary. You haven't lost much if you have a worthless hand and fold early in the game.

  • Patience leads to success
    Success at Texas Hold’em demands that you be patient, pay close attention to position. TexasHold'em requires patience and discipline. Be selective on what hands you play, and when you do decide to play a hand, be as aggressive as you can.
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