You start with a deck of 52 cards. Each player is dealt two cards that the other players are not allowed to see. Then, 5 cards are dealt face up in the middle of the table, during 3 deals. The player who can combine 5 of these cards to make the best poker hand wins the game. Players can use any of the cards to make their best hand. I.e. they can use all 5 cards from the table, or use one or both of the cards they have in their hand.
In Texas Hold’em you do not normally have to put in an ante to play. Instead of the ante, the two players to the left of the dealer put in the small blind and big blind. Usually, the big blind is the same amount it costs to be included before the flop. If you are playing at a $1/$2 table, the big blind is thus $1. The small blind is half the big blind, in this case, it is $0.50. However, be aware that this can vary from casino to casino and makes a difference in terms of the odds, and so on. In order to make it fair, the players take turns to deal and so all the players get to put in the same amount of money in blinds. If you sit down at a table, you either have to wait until it is your time to put in the big blind, or you can buy in by paying a big blind.
3. First round of betting (pre-Flop)
Every player is dealt two cards, one by one, starting with the small blind. These cards are also called “hole cards” and are private to each player. That means they cannot be used by the other players, as opposed to the following cards.
The player sitting to the left of the big blind goes first and has to see (the same amount as the big blind), raise or fold.
Diagram explaining point 3:
Player 1 has been dealt Ah (Ace of Hearts) & As (Ace of Spades) as hole cards, whilst player 2 has received Ks (King of Spades) & Th (Ten of Hearts). These cards are kept hidden from opponents. It is worth noting that you should never pick up your cards from the table. This is to minimise the risk of any of the players around the table seeing your cards. Having your hole cards exposed in Texas Hold’em is extremely unfavourable.
4. Second round of betting (the flop)
Once the first round of betting has finished the dealer burns the top card of the deck (throws away the card). This is done to avoid any players gaining an advantage if they had seen what the top card was before it was dealt. The dealer then places three cards face up on the table. These cards are called the flop and can be used by all the players to combine with their own hole cards in order to make up the best possible poker hand.
The second round of betting then begins with the player who paid in the small blind starting (and if that player has already folded the next player still in the hand and to the left starts). As opposed to the first round of betting, and for the following rounds, players are allowed to check if nobody has already bet. As soon as someone has opened (i.e. placed a bet), the other players must see the bet, raise it or fold.
Diagram explaining point 4:
Here, the flop has been dealt. Player 1 and Player 2 can now make up a full hand (five cards). Player 1 now has two pairs, counting the two aces that are his hole cards and the two kings that appeared in the flop. The fifth card is a 3 of diamonds, which is of no use to Player 1.
Player 2 now has a three of a kind, with the king that is one of his hole cards and the two kings from the flop. The 3 of hearts is of no use to Player 2.
At this stage, Player 2 has the best hand: a three of a kind in kings.
5. Third round of betting (the turn)
The dealer again burns the top card in the deck and places the fourth card (the turn) face up on the table, next to the flop. This card can be used to make the best hand of five cards from the six cards now available in the game. The third round of betting takes place, in the same manner as before. Note that it is the first active player to the left of the dealer that begins the betting.
Diagram explaining point 5:
The Turn has now been dealt. This is the fourth card that is placed face up to the right of the flop. It is a 7 of spades. This card is of no use to Player 1 or Player 2. This means that Player 2 still has the best hand (three of a kind in kings).
6. Fourth round of betting (the river)
The dealer burns the top card of the deck and places the fifth, and last, card (the river) face up on the table next to the previously dealt cards. Now, the players can make up their final hand from their two hole cards and the five common cards on the table. It is time for the final round of betting and, as usual, it is the first active player to the left of the dealer that begins the betting. Note that even if all the remaining players decide to check, the players must show their hands to see who wins, i.e. no money will be left in the pot. After the final round of betting has ended, the players show their hands and the one with the highest five card combination, from the available seven cards, wins the pot.
Diagram explaining point 6:
The last card dealt face up is called the River. This is placed to the right of the Turn. In this example, it is the Ts that is dealt. This changes nothing for Player 1, who remains with his two pairs in aces and kings as his highest possible combination.
Player 2, on the other hand, has now got a great hand. With the help of the River, Player 2’s best five card combination is now a full house in kings and tens. This is a very strong hand in Texas Hold’em and, as we can see, Player 2 will be the one to win if the cards are shown.
Player 1’s final hand: Ah-As-Ks-Kc-Ts – Two pairs in aces and kings
Player 2’s final hand: Kc-Ks-Kd-Th-Ts – Full house with kings over tens