Poker is taking over the world. Televised poker tournaments can be seen every single day. Professional poker players, who before were just characters touring the tournament circuit, are now global celebrities. The amount of prize money available to the winners of major poker tournaments is astounding. Greg Raymer and Chris Moneymaker proved that with enough practice and enough luck, any online poker amateur could make their way past poker’s greatest players and win big money in the process.
Online poker is an industry that is booming like no other. Different factors drive different sorts of people to play poker on the net. The promise of prize money might motivate one player, while the sheer entertainment value of online competition might motivate another. If you have visions of Texas Hold’em glory in your head, the first thing you have to do to realize your dream is learn how to play the game.
The rules of Texas Hold’em are pretty straight forward.
Each player at the table is dealt two cards face down. Each player will use their two pocket or hole cards and five community cards to try and make the best possible five card poker hand.
A pre-flop round of betting ensues, that is to say before the flop (or before the first three community cards are turned over), the small and big blinds are posted. The player to the left of the dealer puts up the small blind and the player to the left of the small blind posts the big blind. The big blind is twice the amount of the small blind. Note that if you’re playing limit hold’em, the big blind is equal to the small limit and the small blind is half of that figure. So if the limit is $10/20, the big blind is $10 and the small blind would be $5.
During the round of betting, players can raise, check or fold. When the round of betting is over, the dealer discards the card at the top of the deck. After this burn card, the dealer flips over the next three cards face up on the table. This is the flop and these three community cards can be used by any player, in combination with their pocket cards, to make a poker hand. After the flop, another round of betting takes place starting with the player sitting to the left of the dealer.
After that round of betting is over, the dealer again discards the top card in the deck and flips an additional “turn” card over. There are now four community cards on the table and another round of betting takes place.
After that round of betting is complete, the dealer burns one more card and then flips over the ”river” card. This fifth and final community card is the last card that players can use to form their five card poker hand. A final round of betting takes place, again starting with the person sitting to the left of the dealer.
After that final round of betting, the players that are still playing the hand must reveal their cards. The player to the left of the last player to call is the first one to show their hand. In this final “showdown,” the player with the best combination of pocket and community cards wins the hand.
And that’s it. Pretty simple stuff. Once you master the basics, the degree to which you practice the game will determine your ultimate skill level.