Texas hold'em

One of the most popular variations of poker is Texas Hold'em. Conveniently, it is also the easiest to learn.

To begin with players are dealt two 'hole' cards that only they can see and use. Then, five 'community' cards are dealt in the middle of the table that everyone can see and use with their hand. Players can make their five-card hand from both, one or none of their hole cards in combination with the community cards.

The game is split into four rounds of betting, and the game moves clockwise around the table. Betting starts from the player position next to the dealer button, which moves one place to the left after each hand. In online games, the dealer button replaces the 'real' dealer.

If two or more players hold equally-strong winning five-card hands and tie, the pot will be split between the two players. If there is an odd chip left from the winnings, the player sitting closest to the left of the dealer button will receive this.

The blinds

Before the game starts, the two players sat to the left of the dealer post 'blind' bets, these are called blinds because they are made before the players have seen any cards. The blinds ensure that there is some money in the pot to play for as the game starts. The player to the left of the dealer posts the 'small blind', and the player positioned to his left then posts the 'big blind'.

Pre-flop action

Each player is dealt two cards, face down. These are called hole or pocket cards. The action begins on the player to the left of the big blind. He or she has three options: either call the bet, raise the bet, or fold. 

Call: Match the amount bet in the big blind

Raise: Increase the amount bet

Fold: Give up the cards and any stake in the hand

This betting procedure continues clockwise around the table until each player has had a chance to act on their hand.

If one of them raises, then all players wishing to remain in the pot must match the raise amount, re-raise it or fold without having to invest any more money.

The player in the big blind (the first compulsory full bet), can 'check' and opt to stay in the game without adding anything to the pot. However, if an opponent has raised, then the big blind has three options: fold, call, or re-raise.

Once all players have folded or matched each others’ bets, the flop is dealt.

The flop

This stage involves dealing three 'community' cards face up on the table. Players can use these to make their five-card hand. A second round of betting follows.

The turn

The fourth community card is dealt face up on the table. The third round of betting follows.

The river

The fifth and final community card is dealt, followed by the final round of betting.

The showdown

If there is more than one player left in the game, there is a showdown in which the players reveal their cards and the highest hand wins (see Rank of hands). If two players share an identical hand, the pot is split.