Play begins with each player being dealt two cards face down – these are called ‘hole’ cards.
After a single round of betting (beginning with the player on the left of the dealer) three cards are dealt face up on the table to be used by all players still in the hand – these are ‘communal’ cards and this deal is called ‘the flop’.
There follows another round of betting, after which a fourth card (the turn) is dealt.
There is then another round of betting after which the fifth and final card (the river) is dealt.
There is then a final round of betting, after which, if there are still two or more players left in the hand, the cards will be turned over, and the player with the best five card hand will win. As explained in the previous section, the five card hand can be made either by using both hole cards and any three of the five cards on the table, or one hole card and four of the five cads on the table, or by using all five cards on the table.
The Dealer (and the Dealer Button)After the winning player has collected his money the cards are shuffled and dealt again, with the dealer moving round in a clockwise direction. If there is no dealer (online) or if there is a house dealer (in a casino) a small chip called ‘the button’ is used to represent the dealer. Action (betting etc) will always start on the left of the dealer button and continue in a clockwise motion and the dealer button will keep moving round clockwise after every hand.
Betting and the Blinds
To ensure there is action with every deal it is important that there is always money (or chips) in the pot. This is where the blinds come in.
Blinds are bets which are forced upon players before they have seen their cards (hence ‘blind’ bets). There is always a small blind and a big blind.
The person on the immediate left of the dealer is the small blind. He will be forced to put in a standard bet (the size of which will depend on the size of the game).
As the dealer button moves round the table, so do the blinds, ensuring that in a single round of the button each player has to put in the small and the big blind once each.
There are four rounds of betting in Texas Holdem: the first is before the flop (after each player has been dealt his hole cards); the second is after the flop; the third takes place after the turn, and the fourth and final round of betting takes place after the river is dealt.
The first round of betting always starts with the player on the left of the big blind (three to the left of the dealer). As the big blind has already been forced to put money into the pot the player on his left must either match that money or raise it if he wants to continue to participate in that hand. If he does not wish to carry on in the hand he can fold, and the action will move on to the player on his left.
This continues until we reach the big blind. If when the betting has reached the big blind no player has raised the pot, the big blind will then have the option to check (meaning he does not wish to bet) or raise. If he checks then the flop will be dealt. If he bets then all players after him must match his bet, raise it, or fold. Once all bets are matched (ie: everyone has contributed the same amount to the pot) the flop will be dealt.
After the flop, and for the rest of the hand, the player on the immediate left of the dealer (the small blind) will act first, having the option to check or bet. If he checks the player on his left may then check, and so on until someone bets or until every player in the hand has checked, at which point the next card will be dealt.
If he bets then every player after him will either have to fold, call (match the value of the bet) or raise the bet by putting in a minimum of double the value of the bet. (Note that if a player has less money than the value of a bet before him he may still call the bet, and a side pot will be formed – more about these later).
Again, after all bets are matched the betting round is over, the next card is dealt, and a new betting round begins, once again with the player on the left of the dealer button.
After the fourth and final round of the betting (after the river card) when all bets are matched the cards will be turned over, and the player with the best five-card hand will win, unless two players both have equally ranked hands in which case the pot will be split between them