Poker Rules

Texas Hold’em is the most popular form of poker worldwide. Its popularity is partially due to the fact that it is easy to learn, yet takes time to master. Our articles in How to Play and Academy sections, as well as, our tutorials on the Pokerist website, should help you to become acquainted with Texas Hold’em rules and even learn some tips and strategies.

In order to play, you first have to take a seat at one of the poker tables. Simply choose a table and any vacant seat. The position of your seat around the table does not matter because the player positions rotate clockwise around the table at the beginning of each hand. Player positions are determined by the Dealer Button (or just Button). The Button moves one position clockwise at the beginning of each hand.

The aim of the game is to win the pot, which is formed from the rates from four (or less) rounds. The two main ways to win a pot:

  1. Collect a poker hand that is stronger than your opponents’ and beat them in a showdown.
  2. Encourage your opponents to fold.


Before cards are dealt, the player sitting immediately to the left of the Button is forced to make a bet called the small blind. The next player sitting to the left of small blind is also forced to make a bet called the big blind. The amount of big blind is twice the amount of small blind.

If a player joins a table in any position other than the big blind, the player will be forced to post the value of the big blind for their first hand (sometimes called an ante). A player will only post an ante once. After, they will merely have to post the big and small blinds as the Dealer Button moves into position.

Once the players have posted their blinds (done automatically by the Pokerist App), two cards are dealt face down to each player. Players can see their own cards, but cannot see their opponents’ cards. The first betting round begins at this point, starting with the player to the immediate left of the big blind, a position called «under the gun» or «UTG» for short.

Player’s actions

When it is player’s turn to act, he or she can perform one of the following actions:

Call — If there has already been a bet, calling means that a player agrees to match the bet. In other words, if player A bets 10, and player B calls, player B will have to match the 10 bet and put 10 into the pot.

Check — If there have been no bets in the current round, a player can check. Checking can best be described as passing. The player remains in the hand, but chooses not to raise the stakes through betting.

Bet — A player can bet any amount in no-limit hold’em, as long as the bet is equal to or greater than the size of the big blind. If a player bets, his bet becomes the value for taking part in subsequent betting; players sitting on his left can continue competing for the pot only if they call or raise. They also can refuse to compete for the current pot by folding.

Raise — A raise is a bet made atop another bet. If a bet was made in the current round, a player can raise it. In order to do so, he or she must make a bet at least twice the size of the previous player’s bet. To continue competing for the pot, all the subsequent players must call or re-raise; otherwise they will fold.

Fold — Folding means to refuse to compete for the current pot. If a player folds, the player’s cards do not participate in the hand anymore and cannot win in the current round.

The first round: Pre-flop

Each player is dealt two «pocket» cards. Betting begins with the player sitting to the left of the big blind, a position known as «under the gun».

Since there is a forced bet from the small and big blind, other players cannot check pre-flop and remain in the hand. Rather, they must call the big blind or raise; otherwise, they can fold.

Players estimate the strength of their cards and decide what action to take (call/raise/fold). At the end of the betting round all the bets are put into the common pot; the players will compete for it in the next rounds.

For more information, check out articles on pre-flop play in «Academy» section of the website:
part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5

The second round: Flop

Three community cards are dealt face-up on the table (the flop). All the players at the table can use these cards to make their own five-card combinations.

Betting on the flop begins with the first active player sitting clockwise from the dealer. Players assess the situation and take actions. All the bets are added to the current pot.

The third round: Turn

The fourth card, called the turn, is revealed on the table. Now players have more information from which they can make decisions, and one more card to make their five-card hand. One more betting round similar to the flop takes place.

The forth round: River

The river is the fifth and last community card on the table. The betting round is similar to the prior two streets (the flop and turn), except that there will be no more community cards dealt after the betting round. Players now have up to seven cards available to make their five-card hand, the two pocket cards and the five community cards. After the final betting round, the remaining players reach Showdown.


Those remaining in the game after all the four rounds take part in the showdown (exposing of the cards) and compare their combinations. The player with the highest five-card poker hand wins the hand and the pot. Players may use any combination of the seven cards available to them, and do not have to use both or either of their pocket cards.

More information about poker combinations:

Two pocket cards and five community cards are used to make the best possible combination. If two players have equal combinations, the so-called kicker, an unpaired high card, is used to determine the winner. If combinations and kickers are absolutely equal, the pot is split between two players.

Please note that you do not need to have the strongest hand to take the pot. Rather, a player can win the pot by getting the other players to all fold their hands (for example, by bluffing).

After the winning player receives the pot of the current round, the next hand begins. The button moves to the next player clockwise, blinds are posted by the small and big blinds, and new pocket cards are dealt.

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