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The Basic Rules of Poker

Learn the poker game fast with this in-depth guide to the basic rules of poker.

The Dealer

Players sit around a table each with a set number of chips. One person is designated as the dealer, the position of the dealer (also called the button) moves from one person to another in between each new hand in a clockwise direction. The dictates where the action starts for each betting round, and the player to the left of the dealer can choose to either raise, call, or fold.

The Deal

Each player at the table is dealt two cards face down, these are called pocket cards or hole cards.
The first round of betting takes place and then three cards are dealt face up in the center of the table, this is the flop and these are called community cards because they are common to each player. Each player uses these three cards to complete a five card poker hand with their hole cards.
A second round of betting takes place and then a fourth community card is dealt face up, this is called the turn.
A third round of betting takes place before a fifth community card is dealt, this is called the river.
Once the river card is dealt there are five community cards on the table, to complete their best five card poker hand each player can use either:

  1. Their 2 pocket cards and any 3 of the 5 community cards.
  2. 1 pocket card and any 4 of the 5 community cards.
  3. Just the 5 community cards.

Whoever is left with the best five card poker hand wins the pot.

The Four Betting Rounds

When playing No Limit Texas Holdem, players can bet all their chips at any time, when a player has used all of their chips for a bet they are said to be all-in.

First Round of Betting

The player to the immediate left of the dealer is the position of the small blind they must place a bet of a predetermined amount before the deal begins. The player to the left of the small blind is the big blind, they must also place a bet usually twice the size of the small blind. After the pocket cards are dealt to all players, the person to the left of the big blind is the first to act, in order to continue to play this player must match or call the size of the big blind to continue the hand. They can also choose to raise by betting more chips or fold and throw their cards away and not play the hand. The betting continues around the table until all the players have called the big blind or any raises that may have taken place. The position of the big blind is always last to act for this round.

Second Round of Betting

After the flop the small blind position is the first to act, they can choose to bet or check. This simply means not to bet and pass the action to the next player on the left. Players who choose not to call a bet can fold their cards when it is their turn to play. Again each player takes their turn to check, bet, or call, until the action has passed to all players. Note that the position of the dealer is the last to act before the next card is turned.

Third Round of Betting

After the turn card comes down it’s the same thing all over again, small blind acts first and the action goes around the table with the dealer being the last to act.

Fourth Round of Betting

Now the river card comes down and the fourth and final betting round takes place in the same fashion as the last betting round.

The Showdown

After all bets have been called on the river the remaining players turn over their cards and whoever has the best hand wins the pot. This is referred to as the showdown.

If you are looking to learn more about poker fundamentals, there are many poker books dedicated to this which could be valuable to you learning.

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