Poker is a deceptively simple game, one where it takes minutes to learn the rules of poker but a lifestyle to master the strategy. No Limit Hold’em is the most popular poker game in the world, and it is the simplest to get into. We will give you a quick overview of the rules and then explain them in detail. The quick overview will be suited to those who have played before and want to brush up on the rules, while the detailed explanation will be better for those who want to seriously play and need to understand the fundamentals of the game.
Quick Overview of the Rules of Texas Hold’em
Hold’em is a poker game where each player receives two cards which only they can see. There is a first round of betting, where players check, bet, or fold. In each case, the action then passes to the left. Players act according to the strength of their preflop starting hands.
Once this round of betting is finished, the next round is called the flop. Three community cards are placed face up. Every player uses the community cards along with their preflop two starting hands to make the best 5 card hand.
Once this round of betting is finished, the turn card, or fourth community card is dealt and players go through the second round of betting.
Once this round of betting is finished, the final shared card, the river, is dealt and one final round of betting occurs. Then, players who are still in the pot go to showdown. The entire pot is awarded to the player who can make the best five card hand using a combination of any two cards in his hand and the five community cards.
Texas Hold’em Hand Strengths
Detailed explanation of the rules of poker
Each player, usually between 2 (heads up) and 10 (full ring) is dealt two cards face down. The player is able to look at his own cards, but they are hidden from all other players.
To the left of the dealer button is the Small Blind (SB) and to the left of the SB is the Big Blind (BB). The blinds are a forced bet that occurs before the start of each round of play. The stakes that you are playing at denote the size of the SB and BB. For example, if you are playing at stakes of $1.00/$2.00, then the SB will post a forced bet of $.50 and the BB will post a forced bet of $1.
Before the cards are dealt, the big blind and small blind both post their respective forced bets. The blinds are the essence of no limit hold’em – without the blinds, there would be no money for people to fight over.
Each player has a stack of chips with direct monetary value in front of him. Chips cannot be hidden, and if they are in play then they are at risk. The “no limit” portion of Texas Hold’em is the fact that while there is a minimum bet of 1BB, there is no maximum bet. That means that in the $1.00/$2.00 game that we were talking about where the BB posts $2.00, at no stage of play can someone raise less than $2.00.
The first round of betting occurs. It starts with the player to the left of the BB. This player is called the “Under the Gun” player. They are generally forced to play the tightest range of cards. Below we have shown a 6max hand. The UTG player (the hamster) has folded, leaving the action to Scootermir. In this hand, GrafAlucardd is the dealer, Boesjkb is the Small Blind, and Tommyguy123 is the Big Blind. You can see the forced bets from the SB and BB that have been put into play from their stacks before starting the action. As well, you can see the stack sizes of each player. The money under the players name is how much they have in play, and it is the amount which is at risk at the table.
In this case of a 6max poker game on Pokerstars, the action started with the first player (he folded). Then, Scootermir has the option to call (placing a 2 dollar bet in), raise (Placing a minimum of a 1bb raise, which means a minimum of a $4.00 bet) or fold (his cards go into the muck and he is no longer in the hand). Each player after him gets to make the same set of decisions. However, if Scootermir or any player raises, the consecutive players are now forced to play based on the new size of the bets.
So, if Scootermir decided to minimum raise to $4.00, now The_Meer can choose to reraise. Each consecutive player gets their turn to act.
One the round of betting is completed, ending with the Big Blind, the flop will be put out.
Notice that while the Big Blind was the last to act preflop, the dealer, in this case GrafAlucarrd, will be the last to act on all further streets of betting. This is an advantage as GrafAlucardd will be able to see how his or her opponents react. However, if GrafAlucardd folds, then position is determined by whoever is in play to the right of the dealer.
In this particular hand, Scootermire (The wolf) bet and The_Meer (the baby) called. Now, Scootermire is forced to act first because he is further to the right of the dealer. He checks, giving The_Meer the opportunity to bet, or check behind to close the action and go to the turn card. In this case, The_Meer decided to bet. You will see in the next image that the pot size has grown accordingly, as Scootermire decided to call the raise. Notice that if Scootermire wanted to, he could have reraised. Everytime someone bets, the action is opened up again*.
Once again, Scootermire (the wolf) is forced to act first because he is out of position. He checks again, passing the action to The_Meer, who may decide once again to check or to raise. If he raises, the action is passed to Scootermire who may choose to reraise, call, or fold.
The river is the final community card, and the last round of action. Now, players have their final hand. They use the two best cards in their hand to combine with as many on the board as possible to create the best hand. Again, Scootermir must act first – in this hand, both players decided to check, and The_Meer won the pot with a pair of nines.
We hope that after reading through this guide, you will have an understanding of the rules of poker. If anything was unclear, please post below and we will answer your questions.
*except in one exception if their stack size is not big enough to put in a minimum reraise, in which case the bet is considered a call and other players who the action is not re-opened to may only call the small raise.