Poker is the name given to a number of card games where players wager on the strength of the cards they hold. Poker is a game that involves a communal “pot” consisting of the players’ wagers, which is awarded to the player who either holds the highest ranking hand when all the cards are shown, or makes a wager which their opponents are unwilling to match
Here are a couple of videos which take you through the gameplay:-
Poker Game Rules
All poker games begin with some forced wager over which poker players compete. These forced wagers are a ‘small blind’ and a ‘big blind’. The small blind is usually half the value of the big blind. Aside from the blinds, forced wagers may also include an ‘ante’. In any basic poker game, players strategically wager using a number of actions available to them. The actions are as follows:
- CHECK – If there is no wager on the current betting round, a player may check. The act of checking passes the action to the next person, immediately clockwise from the player. A check does not forfeit interest in the pot, only the current right to bet. If all active players check during a round of betting, the round is considered complete.
- BET – If there is not yet a wager on the current betting round, a player may bet. If a player bets, the player immediately clockwise from him or her (and any subsequent players) may fold, raise, or call.
- FOLD – The act of folding forfeits all interest in the pot. A player who folds is not required or allowed to wager any further money during the current poker hand, but cannot win that hand either.
- CALL – If there has been a bet on the current round of poker play, a player may call. The act of calling requires the player to match the current bet made by his or her opponent(s).
- RAISE – If there has been a bet on the current betting round, a player may raise. The act of raising requires the poker player to match the current bet, and then make a greater one. All subsequent players are required to call the raise or raise again (“re-raise”) to maintain interest in the pot.
On each betting round, betting continues until every player has either matched the bets made or folded (if no bets are made, the round is complete when every player has checked). When the betting round is completed, the next dealing/betting round begins, or the hand is complete.
If the last bet or raise on the final betting round is called, a “showdown” occurs. This is when it is determined who wins the pot,as players show their hands one-by-one. It may be the case that there is no showdown. This occurs when a player bets or raises, and no active players choose to call the player’s bet (in other words, all players fold). In this case, the player doing the betting or raising wins the full amount of the pot.
How to Play Texas Hold’em
If you would like to learn to play Hold’em using a more hands-on method, visit a site like PokerStars which offers free poker games. However, it’s better to familiarize yourself with the rules of Hold’em first, before you start playing with your friends or online for practice.
In Hold’em, a marker called ‘the button’ or ‘the dealer button’ indicates which player is the nominal dealer for the current game. Before the game begins, the player immediately clockwise from the button posts the “small blind”, the first forced bet. The player immediately clockwise from the small blind posts the “big blind”, which is typically twice the size of the small blind, but the blinds can vary depending on the stakes and betting structure being played.
In Limit games, the big blind is the same as the small bet, and the small blind is typically half the size of the big blind but may be larger depending on the stakes. For example, in a $2/$4 Limit game the small blind is $1 and the big blind is $2. In a $15/$30 Limit game, the small blind is $10 and the big blind is $15.
In Pot Limit and No Limit games, the games are referred to by the size of their blinds (for example, a $1/$2 Hold’em game has a small blind of $1 and a big blind of $2).
Depending on the exact structure of the game, each player may also be required to post an ‘ante’ (another type of forced bet, usually smaller than either blind, posted by all players at the table) into the pot.
Now, each player receives his or her two hole cards. Betting action proceeds clockwise around the table, starting with the player ‘under the gun’ (immediately clockwise from the big blind).
Player Betting Options
In Hold’em, as with other forms of poker, the available actions are ‘fold’, ‘check’, ‘bet’, ‘call’ or ‘raise’. Exactly which options are available depends on the action taken by the previous players. Each poker player always has the option to fold, to discard their cards and give up any interest in the pot. If nobody has yet made a bet, then a player may either check (decline to bet, but keep their cards) or bet. If a player has bet, then subsequent players can fold, call or raise. To call is to match the amount the previous player has bet. To raise is to not only match the previous bet, but to also increase it.
After seeing his or her hole cards, each player now has the option to play his or her hand by calling or raising the big blind. The action begins to the left of the big blind, which is considered a ‘live’ bet on this round. That player has the option to fold, call or raise. For example, if the big blind was $2, it would cost $2 to call, or at least $4 to raise. Action then proceeds clockwise around the table.
Note: The betting structure varies with different variations of the game. Explanations of the betting action in Limit Hold’em, No Limit Hold’em, and Pot Limit Hold’em can be found below.
Betting continues on each betting round until all active players (who have not folded) have placed equal bets in the pot.
Now, three cards are dealt face-up on the board. This is known as ‘the flop’. In Hold’em, the three cards on the flop are community cards, available to all players still in the hand. Betting on the flop begins with the active player immediately clockwise from the button. The betting options are similar to pre-flop, however if nobody has previously bet, players may opt to check, passing the action to the next active player clockwise.
When the betting action is completed for the flop round, the ‘turn’ is dealt face-up on the board. The turn is the fourth community card in Hold’em (and is sometimes also called ‘Fourth Street’). Another round of betting ensues, beginning with the active player immediately clockwise from the button.
When betting action is completed for the turn round, the ‘river’ or ‘Fifth Street’ is dealt face-up on the board. The river is the fifth and final community card in a Hold’em game. Betting again begins with the active player immediately clockwise from the button, and the same betting rules apply as they do for the flop and turn, as explained above.
If there is more than one remaining player when the final betting round is complete, the last person to bet or raise shows their cards, unless there was no bet on the final round in which case the player immediately clockwise from the button shows their cards first. The player with the best five-card poker hand wins the pot. In the event of identical hands, the pot will be equally divided between the players with the best hands. Hold’em rules state that all suits are equal.
After the pot is awarded, a new hand of Hold’em is ready to be played. The button now moves clockwise to the next player, blinds and antes are once again posted, and new hands are dealt to each player.
No Limit Texas Hold’em
The minimum bet in No Limit Hold’em is the same as the size of the big blind, but players can always bet as much more as they want, up to all of their chips.
Minimum raise: In No Limit Hold’em, the raise amount must be at least as much as the previous bet or raise in the same round. As an example, if the first player to act bets $5 then the second player must raise a minimum of $5 (total bet of $10).
Maximum raise: The size of your stack (your chips on the table).
In No Limit Hold’em, there is no ‘cap’ on the number of raises allowed.