Poker Rules – How to Play

Each player starts with two hole cards. There are three rounds of community cards. These are dealt face up, for every player to use, with the chance to check or bet after each round.

Players make the 5-card hands using any combination of the five community cards and their two hole cards – the best hand wins!


At the beginning of every hand, Blinds are paid. The player to the left of the dealer will pay the Small Blind and the player to the left of the Small Blind will pay the Big Blind. Blinds will differ in amount depending on what levels you are playing. The small blind is normally half the size of the Big Blind.

Example Small blind $0.50 – Big Blind $1.00.

Blinds are needed so players have something to play

for from the start.

First Round

When the blinds are in place, the dealer distributes first one card and then another face down to each player, starting with the small blind. These two starting cards are called hole cards. Your hole cards appear face up on screen, but don’t worry; only you can see your hole cards. Only the backs of every other player’s hole cards appear on screen. Every other player has a similar view, with only his own hole cards visible.

When you get your hole cards you have 3 options.

  1. Fold – If you don’t like your cards you can fold them and wait for the next hand
  2. Call – If you like your cards and want to continue you would Call. You would match the Big Blind amount. If there has been a raise before your turn you would have to match the raise amount to make a Call.
  3. Raise – If you really like your hand you can Raise. In No Limit Hold’em you can raise as much as you have in play at that time.

The Flop

Once the betting for the round has finished, the dealer deals three cards face up in the center of the table. These first three of the community cards are called the flop.

The second round of betting takes place. In this round, the betting starts with the first active player (one who still has cards) to the left of the button

  • Check, that is, make no bet
  • Bet

If no one bets, each player in turn has the same choices. It is possible in every round except the first for no betting to occur. No betting in a round is called being checked around.

If anyone bets, each succeeding player has three choices:

  • Fold
  • Call, that is, match the preceding bet
  • Raise, that is, increase the preceding bet



The Turn

Once the betting for the second round is finished, the dealer deals one more card face up in the center of the table. This fourth of the community cards is called the turn.

The third round of betting takes place. Again, the betting starts with the first active player to the left of the button. The betting proceeds exactly the same as the second round. In a limit game, in the third round and fourth rounds the betting usually proceeds in increments twice the size of the first two rounds.



The River

Once the betting for the third round is finished, the dealer deals a fifth and final card face up in the center of the table. This last community card is called the river.

The fourth and final round of betting takes place. Again, the betting starts with the first active player to the left of the button. The betting proceeds exactly the same as the two previous rounds.




Once the betting for the fourth round has been completed, the betting is over, and there is a showdown. Remaining active players show their cards and the best hand, comprised of the best five cards from among each player’s combination of two hole cards plus the community cards, wins. The holder of the winning hand is awarded the pot. If there is a tie for the best hand, the pot will be split equally among the tied players.

If the betting is not equalized on the final round, that is, one player bet or raised and no one called, there is no showdown, and the software awards the pot to the player who made that uncalled bet. This is the case on any previous round, as well. If it happens on earlier rounds, no further cards are dealt, because the hand is over.

Sometimes a player runs out of chips before all the betting is over. In such cases, one or more side pots are created, and the software awards appropriate main and side pots. When a player is all in, a bet or raise can be made that is not called, but a showdown still takes place.

Players often do not show losing hands. You are entitled, however, to see any cards that were active at the showdown even if they were not shown. Click on “Hand #” to bring up a new window that shows the results of the last hand and all the active cards.

In determining the winning hand, the combination of five best cards sometimes includes both a player’s hole cards. Sometimes it includes only one of a player’s hole cards. Sometimes, rarely, no hole cards are used. In such a case, the board would contain some combination better than any hand that can be made using any player’s hole cards. This is called playing the board. When all players play the board, the pot is split equally among all players remaining in the hand at that point.

In Omaha, you start with four Hole cards and must use two of them. So your best hand is any two from your hole cards and three from the community cards.