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How To Play Poker

Texas Hold'em is by far the most popular poker game to ever grace the felt. Combining a mixture of extreme skill and a good amount of luck, it has taken over the world as the number 1 poker game played both online and in prestigious tournaments around the globe.

Whether you're a complete newbie, or an aspiring pro looking to brush up on some of the key rules of the game, you've come to the right place.

Today, we're going to run through the basics of how to play Texas Hold 'em poker, including all the rules you need to know, as well as a few tips and tricks along the way.

Now the aim of the game is simple when you boil it down - you're aiming to win hands by outplaying your opponents, but there's a little more to it than that...

The Deal

Hole Cards

Each round of play begins with each player being dealt two cards each. These cards are dealt face down to and must remain that way throughout play. They are often referred to as 'pocket' or 'hole' cards. This round of dealing always starts with the player to the dealer's left.

When people play poker outside of formal venues, they often take turns dealing. Players will keep track of which person is dealing with a 'dealer button' that gets passed to the left as each new hand begins.

Community Cards

Five community cards are then dealt in the middle of the table. The dealer turns these cards face up in a specific sequence: three at once, then another, then another. These five cards can be used by all players to create the best hand possible. It's also important to know the terms used for each community card:

  • The flop: This refers to the first three community cards, all revealed to the table at once.

  • The turn: This is the fourth community card.

  • The river: The fifth and final community card.

A player's hand will always consist of five cards in total, combining the best mixture of community cards and the two private cards they were dealt. For instance, they could use their two pocket cards and three community cards, or just one pocket card and four community cards.

Types of Hands

Before we get into all the details, one important thing to know is that the highest value card in poker is the Ace, and the lowest value is the 2 - these values play a huge role in hand rankings.

  1. Royal flush - The royal flush is the best possible hand in Texas Hold em poker. It consists of five consecutive cards, 10 through to Ace and all of the same suit. Regardless of anyone else's hand, a player with a royal flush will always be winning the pot.
  2. Straight flush - These can be any five consecutive cards of the same suit. This hand can only be beaten by a higher straight flush or a royal flush.
  3. Four of a kind - This hand is the same card in all four suits. The fifth card of this hand will be the highest value card in the community cards or the player's hole cards.
  4. Full house - This hand consists of one three of a kind and one pair, joined together to make a five-card hand called a full-house. Therefore the player must have three identical cards in different suits and two identical cards in different suits. If there are two full houses, the winning hand will have the highest value 'three of a kind'.
  5. Flush - Any five cards of the same suit, in no particular order. When two players both have flushes, the hand that contains the highest valued card is the winning poker hand.
  6. Straight - Five consecutive cards in terms of numerical value, but not all of the same suit.
  7. Three of a kind - Three of the same value card, in three different suits. The next two highest cards available in the community cards or the player's hole cards will contribute to the hand.
  8. Two pairs - Two sets of two cards with matching values. The highest value cards remaining will complete the five card hand.
  9. Pair - A singular pair of cards with the same value.
  10. High card - The worst hand on the table - simply the highest card in your hand.

The Play

Now it's time to run through the order of betting and some of the basic principles of play.

As you know, each player receives two private cards, followed by five community cards dealt to the centre of the table. But, before, during and after each move from the dealer, there's plenty of betting action between the players.


First up are the blind bets. These are forced bets that players are required to place before a round of play even begins. The purpose of blinds is to ensure players cannot continually fold hands and sit at a table for free, until they're dealt the perfect hole cards. It means that every player has a stake in the game and it therefore encourages action at the table.

Only two players are required to place blind bets for each round of play, while the remaining players enter the round for free.

The first is the 'small blind' which is placed by the player immediately to the left of the dealer. The 'big blind' follows from the player immediately to the left of the small blind. The big blind tends to be twice the amount of the small blind, but blinds will vary depending on the venue, tournament and stakes being played.

Blinds will move around the table by one position per hand played. This ensures every player must place small and big blinds throughout play.

Betting Options

Before the real betting begins, let's cover all the options players have when it comes to betting.

  • Fold: this is when a player exits the round of play by throwing their hand away.

  • Check: this is when a player wants to continue to the next round of play without betting. If everybody checks then they can all advance to the next round without betting. However, if one player bets, action will move round the table, back to the player that checked and they will have to match the

  • Bet: this is when a player will bet a certain amount of chips, which must be at least matched by the other players to advance to the next round. (Unless they fold of course)

  • Call: this is the act of matching the bet that's already been made.

  • Raise: this is when a player bets more than the bets that have already been placed. When this happens, action will go around the table until it reaches the original bettor, who must fold, call the bet or raise again to continue play.


Once the blinds have been made, the real betting can begin.

Players can place bets after receiving only their hole cards. They have the option to either call the big blind amount, or raise. The first player to bet will be immediately to the left of the big blind.

Once all active players have made equal bets and therefore have equal stakes in the pot, excluding the blinds, play will continue to the flop.

The Flop

Three community cards are dealt to the centre of the table and betting action resumes once again from the player immediately to the left of 'the button'.

The button: this is the last player to act in the previous round of betting.

The flop round of betting is largely similar to pre-flop action, except players now have the option to check. Again, play only continues once all players have equal stake in the pot.

The Turn

The fourth community card is now revealed. Another round of betting begins from the player immediately left of the button.

The River

Once betting at the turn is concluded, 'the river' or the fifth and final community card is shown. The remaining players must again match their contribution to the pot if any betting or raising takes place.

After the betting has settled, any players that remain must show their cards, at which point the winning player takes the pot and it starts all over again for the next hand.

So, now you know how to play poker, Texas Hold em style, why not check out some of the amazing poker offers we have here at RakeTheRake? It could be time to put those skills to the test!