How to Play Poker: Ultimate Guide to the Rules of Poker (Texas Hold’em) – Part 1

How to Play Poker: Ultimate Guide to the Rules of Poker (Texas Hold’em) – Part 1

Poker - is a common name for a number of card games varieties, all of which possess a single goal of winning the pot, which in its turn is formed by the bets of players at the table, who participates in the hand. The winner of the hand is a player, who is able to form the highest ranking poker hand. But there’s another way to win a pot - by properly using the game strategy you are forcing your opponents to believe in the strength of your cards and fold theirs, giving up to continue fighting for the pot (the opponents doesn’t call your bet and fold their cards into muck).

Depending on the specific poker variant, the game may be played with completely or partially hidden cards. Accordingly, rules of every specific poker variant are slightly different. Common elements, inherent for all types of poker games, would be the poker hand rankings, as well as the betting rounds during the game process.

Poker, as well as many other card games - is a game of incomplete information. Because of the fact that every player at the poker table (be it a virtual table in online poker room, or kitchen table against your friends or family) sees only his own starting cards (this cards are called ‘hand’) and the community cards on the table (community cards are called ‘board cards’ or ‘board’), but doesn’t know (and can not know) the cards of his opponents.

In this article series, we will examine the rules of No-Limit Texas Holdem, where you will be receiving two starting cards. Two pocket cards in your hands, hidden from the eyes of your opponents, are giving you a great scope for maneuvers, while five community cards on a table allowing a good player to make a lot of logical conclusions about possible cards of his opponents. Moreover, all the major and the largest poker tournaments are running in No-Limit Texas Holdem rules.

Our articles are designed for beginner poker player, that’s why this article series could be entitled as: “Poker: Rules of the game for Dummies

Poker variations depending on the bet limit

There are three main poker variations that differ one from another by the size of the possible bet:

  • Fixed Limit - bets can only be of a certain size, i.e., their size is limited by the rules of the game;
  • Pot-Limit - maximum bet can only equal the size of the pot;
  • No-Limit - maximum bet is only limited by the stack of the player (the amount of chips he has in front of him).

The most popular variety of poker games is No-Limit Texas Hold’em. We will discuss the rules of this game in this article.

Cards for poker

You can play poker with a different decks of cards (depending on the variety of the game), including 32, 36, 52 or 54 cards. However, the standard deck of 52 cards is used more often. This type of deck includes cards of four suits, ranging from duice to ace ( ,  ,  ,  ,  ,  ,  ,  ,  ,  ,  ,  ,  ).

Card rankings in letters:

  - Ten is denoted by ‘T’ letter.
  - Jack is denoted by ‘J’ letter.
  - Queen is denoted by ‘Q’ letter.
  - King is denoted by ‘K’ letter.
  - Ace is denoted by ‘A’ letter.

Card suits in letters:

Hearts are denoted by ‘h’ letter
Spades are denoted by ‘s’ letter
Clubs are denoted by ‘c’ letter
Diamonds are denoted by ‘d’ letter
Thus, As = Ace of spades, Kd = King of diamonds, etc.

The card strength is ranging in descending order from Ace and below (King, Queen, Jack,... Deuce). Ace is the strongest card in the deck, however, it can also act as the lowest card in the deck (only to form a straight combination from Ace to Five -          ). The game has several phases called betting rounds. The game can be played with a different number of participants - from 2 to 10 on one table.

Number of players at the table

Number of players at the table can differ. Accordingly, each table with a specific maximum participants amount has its own poker term. Basic tables are:

  • Full Ring - 10 max;
  • Shorthanded - 6 max;
  • Ultra Shorthanded - 4 max;
  • Heads Up - 2 max, meaning a one-on-one type of game.

The blinds - forced bets

Before the start of the game two players have to place mandatory blind bets, called simply ‘blinds’. The term ‘blind’ received this name because players place bets into the pot before even looking at their own cards - the cards are dealt only after the blind bets are made.

There are two types of blind bets - small blind and big blind. As a rule, the size of the big blind is twice the size of a small blind. Blinds in poker are placed so the players wouldn’t sit and wait only the strong cards, and participated in game more actively.

The blinds are not placed in random order: these bets should be placed by two players on the left to a dealer position. Players on the dealer position are changed after each hand, because the dealer changes happen clockwise each hand. Dealer is marked by a large chip named ‘button’, placed on the table in front of him.

Blinds in poker

Thus, even before players get their cards on hands, the player to the left of the dealer will have to make a small blind bet, putting a small blind in, and the next player after he will have to post a big blind.

In online poker, the dealer's position is determined when the table is opened: the first player to sit on the table will be considered a dealer. Then during the game dealer’s position will move from one player to another clockwise.

After the blinds will be posted, every player will receive 2 face down cards. In online poker, all cards are dealt by Random Numbers Generator (RNG). This cards can be seen only by the player who received them. Then the first betting round starts - the preflop. All betting rounds are divided into preflop (round before flop) and postflop (after players have seen the flop cards) by the unofficial rules of poker.

This was the first part of our Ultimate Guide To The Rules Of Poker. To continue to dig into the rules of poker for beginners, please refer to the Ultimate Guide to the Rules of Poker - Part 2 article.

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