Before you start playing poker you of course need to know the rules. The most popular game in Poker is Texas Hold’em, it is the game you see and hear the most about, played with two cards in your hand. In this guide we will teach you how to play Texas Hold’em, and the general rules of poker.
Different type of games
There are two type of poker games; cash games and tournaments. In a cash game you can join and leave when you want, you play directly for money the chips you have represent the amount of money you have. Then there are tournaments, here you play till you have lost all your chips or you have won the chips of all other players in the tournament. You and all other players pay an entry fee to the tournament and this becomes the prize pool. The prize pool is often divided over more players, the bigger the tournament, the more players get a prize in general.
Texas Hold em Poker rules
Check the video above for a nice overview of the poker rules, if you prefer reading about it then keep on reading! There is always a dealer in Texas Hold’em, the dealer will move 1 position to the left every hand. The player left of the dealer must place the small blind, the player left of that will be the big blind. This is all done automatically by Unibet. Now the hand starts, and how can you play poker without cards? You can’t! In Texas Hold’em every player gets two cards which can only be seen by you. After this it is time for the first betting round. In this round the player left to the big blind must make a decision first, the options are: call, raise, fold. Calling would mean equaling the amount of the highest bet at that point in the hand, which is the automatic bet of the big blind. A raise would be increasing the stakes, and a fold would be getting out of the hand.
The betting round ends when either the hand is won by everyone deciding to fold except for the winner of the hand or when there are multiple players who have matched the highest bet.
The hand continues with three cards being placed on the table, this is called “the flop”. Each player can use these cards to improve their hand. Another betting round occurs between the players who are still active in the hand. The first player on the left from the dealer is first to act this player can; check or bet. A check would be let your turn go to the next player without increasing the stakes, and a bet would be placing new chips in the pot. If the first player bets the other again have the option to call, raise or fold.
When all bets are matched a 4th card will come on the table (the turn). Another betting round occurs just like after the flop. Then the 5th and final card will be placed on the table. The last betting round of the hand occurs. If there are still multiple players left in the hand, we get a “showdown”, all the players show their cards and the winner of the hand will receive the chips that are in the pot. In Texas Hold’em it is about the best five cards, for this you can use the 5 community cards on the table and the two cards in your hand. To see which hand beats which hand have a look at our Poker cheat sheet.
Let’s walk through the rules of a hand in poker
The Dealer Button
Often labelled as “Dealer” or “D”, it signifies who is the dealer of the hand. Each player will get to act as the dealer at some point. After each hand, the dealer button moves to the next player in a clockwise manner. The dealer position is one of the most favorable positions in the game as the player gets to act last after he’s witnessed everyone else’s decisions. The only exception to this rule occurs on the first round of betting where the blinds will act after the dealer.
Example you are in the starting stages of a tournament and have a total of 3000 chips.
Before any cards are dealt, two players to the left of the dealer are required to post the blinds. These are mandatory bets that encourage action and give players something to shoot for. First there is a small blind who posts half the size of the big blind. The amount of the blinds is determined by the stakes.
Example: The blind levels are 20-40, you sit in the big blind so you have to put in 40 chips.
Once the blinds have been posted, each player will be dealt two cards facedown, referred to as the hole cards. The best two hole cards that a player can get at the start of a hand are two Aces.
Example: You get Ace - Queen (AQ) both of hearts
The first betting round is called the pre-flop. The first player, the one on the left of the big blind has the choice of either calling the amount of the big blind, to raise or to fold by discarding his cards facedown.
Example: The first player to act raises to 120, the dealer calls and you decide to call as well. The total pot will now be three times 120 is 360 plus the small blind (20) who folded makes a total of 380.
After the first betting round is completed, three community cards are dealt face up on the table. All active players can use these three cards along with their two hole cards to create the best possible hand. These three cards are known as the flop.
Example: The flop shows K (hearts), Q (spades), 8 (hearts), you are first to act and decide to check, the player who placed the initial raise, bets 240, the dealer fold and you decide to raise to 600, the other player calls. The pot is now the initial 380 + 600 + 600 = 1580.
Following the second round of betting, a fourth card is dealt called the turn. It is often referred to as 4th street.
Example: The turn shows a 4 of hearts, which gives you the best possible hand at this moment in time as you make the Ace high flush. You are first to act and decide to put in 900 more chips. The player behind you calls, the pot is now 1580 + 900 + 900 = 3380.
After the third round of betting is complete, the final card is dealt known as the river.
Example: The river is the 4 of spades, you go all-in for your remaining 1380 chips, the player calls. The total and final pot is 3380 + 1380 + 1380 = 6140 chips.
When the final betting round has been completed, it’s time to take a peek at who’s won the hand as explained in our Basics of Texas Hold’em article.
Example: It is time for the showdown, you show your AQ hearts, your opponent shows AK, which gives you the flush with all hearts (A, K, Q, 8, 4), your opponent has two pair (K, K, 4, 4, A) which means you win the hand and get all the chips in the pot, well done!
So how do you play poker? Get to know the rules, the hand combinations and start playing. Learning the basic rules of Texas hold'Em is not hard, but mastering the game will take you some years, it is a lot of fun though, and you don't need to be a master before you can make some extra money with it!
If you need more tips make sure to read more of our poker guides.