How to Play Texas Hold Em Poker
The objective of Texas Hold Em poker is to make the best possible five card poker hand using any combination of the five communal cards and the two personal cards which each player receives. The player who can make the strongest hand wins the pot. Alternatively if all but one player folds then the last remaining player takes the pot no matter what cards they have.
The Dealer and The Blinds
A typical game of real money Texas Hold Em poker begins by the two players to the left of the "dealer" posting blind bets, typically referred to as the blinds. These bets are used to stimulate the betting action in the same way that an ante is in a game of Seven Card Stud poker. Incidentally, the dealer in a game of Texas Hold Em is not an actual casino employee, but is the nominal name given to a player sitting at the table. This dealer is denoted by a little white disc which moves clockwise around the table as each hand is completed, which lets everyone know which two players are required to post the small blind and the big blind. This term of "dealer" is quite confusing for those first reading up on Texas Hold Em poker as it has nothing to do with the actual person standing behind the table dealing the cards in the card room.
The Initial Betting Round
Two cards are dealt to each player face down so that only they can see them. A round of betting then ensues, in which a player can either call or raise the blind bet, or fold and surrender their cards if they so wish. Deciding when to play and when to fold these first two cards is one of the most important factors to learn when playing Texas Hold Em poker, and players will often find themselves folding a number of hands before finding suitable starting cards which are worthy of putting money into the pot.
After this initial round of betting three cards are dealt face up in the centre of the table. All of the cards dealt into the centre of the table (there will be five in total if the game proceeds to its conclusion without all but one player folding) are communal cards, which can make up the poker hand of anyone at the table. After seeing these three cards, which is known as the flop, another round of betting ensues. In this and each succeeding round a player may check (place no bet) as long as no other player has placed a bet that round. They may bet (if they are the first to do so), call the previous player's bet, raise, re-raise if the previous player has raised, or fold.
Turn, River and End of the Hand
After this a fourth card is dealt into the centre of the table, referred to as the turn, and a similar round of betting takes place. Then, so long as there are at least two players still contesting the pot, a fifth and final card known as the river is dealt into the centre, and a final round of betting takes place. After betting is finished, if more than two players are still left, then a showdown reveals their cards and the best five-card poker hand that can be made using any combination of the five community cards in the centre of the table and the two personal cards that were dealt to the player at the very start of the round takes the pot.