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How to Play Poker for Beginners

Holdem for beginnersTexas Holdem is by far the most popular poker game in the world. Its popularity is due in part to it being fast paced and easy to learn, in comparison to other games.  The game became even more popular once it became available online.

Learning how to play poker has often been billed as “taking a minute to learn but a lifetime to master”.  This page will give instructions on how to play poker in text and video formats.  

Texas Holdem Poker Rules

Texas Holdem can be played with as few as two and as many as ten players; most tables will have a maximum of nine or ten players. Each player is dealt two cards face down, these are private cards that only the player may see and use.

Check out this How to Play Texas Holdem Video

Play begins to the left of the dealer button; this button moves one player to the left after every hand. The button moves one spot to the left so that everyone playing will have an equal number of hands as the Dealer.

To the left of the dealer are the blinds. The blinds are put in by two players left of the button, known respectively as the Small Blind and Big Blind.  These are forced bets that will seed the pot so players will have something to play for.

The player to the left of the blinds will be given the option of:

• Calling: Matching the amount of money put in by the Big Blind

• Folding: Sending your cards back to the dealer and not continuing in the hand

• Raising: Putting more money in than the Big Blind forcing others to pay more to stay in the hand

The player in the small blind will have these same options, but will only have to pay the difference between the current bet and the small blind they put in. The big blind works the same way, if no one has raised the big blind may continue the hand for free, this is known as checking.

In this demonstration we will say we are playing a $1/$2 No-Limit Holdem cash game.  One player has raised to $6, and one player has called, along with both blinds.  The pot is now $24.


Each player is dealt 2 "hole cards" face down.  Careful not to expose these to other players.  

Texas Holdem Basics:  Preflop

The Flop

Three community cards will be dealt in the middle of the table.  Starting to the left of the button, players will have the option of checking or betting.  Our first player decides to check while the 2nd player decides to bet $10.  The other players fold and the first player may call, raise or fold.  The first player decides to call, however he could raise if he wanted to.  This is known as a "check-raise". This closes the round of betting for this street. The pot is now $44.

Texas Holdem Basics:  The Flop

The Turn

A fourth community card is turned over and players will start another round of betting. The same procedure used on the flop will be used on the turn. The first player has decided to bet $20 and his opponent has called. The money is collected and put into the middle, indicating the betting round is over. If one of these players were to fold, the hand would be over and the pot would be pushed to the last player remaining.  The pot is now $84.

Texas Holdem Basics:  The Turn

The River

The fifth and final community card is shown, and betting follows the same procedures as the flop and turn.  Our first player bets $30 and the second player calls. The pot now has $144 in it. 

Texas Holdem Basics:  The River

The Showdown

Once the betting on the river is complete, players will show their hands and the best hand will be awarded the pot. For new players it can be hard to remember what hands beat what, however online the pot will automatically be pushed to the winning player. The button will move to the player on the left and a new hand will be ready to begin. 

Texas Holdem Basics:  The Showdown

Steps to Improve Your Poker Game

Step 1: Reading articles and books

Reading up on the latest strategy discussions can help you develop your game in a short amount of time as a new player.  Even if you disagree with it, it will get you thinking about your own game and taking an active role in the learning process. Reading popular articles and books will also give you a better understanding of how other people are approaching the game.

Some books are more suitable for beginners than others, the following books would be great for beginning poker players:


Step 2: Forums

Forums are a great place to meet people to discuss specific poker related questions.  You can talk to people who are better than you to help plug leaks in your game.  Discussing the game with people on your skill level can also be helpful to solve similiar problems in the same game.

Step 3:  Training sites

Training sites are websites that have high level poker coaches who create educational poker videos.  These videos will sometimes be a slideshow presentation or a live stream of multiple tables.  

These videos may not be as helpful novice players since some of the ideas are too complex or simply do not work in lower limit games. 

Step 4: One-on-One Coaching

Personalized coaching can be very helpful once you have gotten the maximum out of the above mentioned steps. Most poker coaches are expensive and would not be worth it to the players in the micro stakes.  Having a coach would allow you to customize meetings and discussions based on your weaknesses, as opposed to just what you could find online at a training site.

Poker Etiquette

New players can often find themselves in bad situations by not understanding poker etiquette.  Poker games have several unspoken rules about how to go about playing the game. Some may be obvious while others require explanation. Violating some of these rules could get you banished from certain games.   

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