Introduction to Poker

Below is a very simplified overview of the basics of Texas Hold ’em – the most popular and easiest to pick up of the many different variants of poker.

Poker is one of those games where, on paper, it is more complex than actually playing. The game itself is very simple and easy once you know how to play, you'll realise how easy it is by playing it in person! The aim of it is to win as many chips as possible! If you're new to the game don't confuse yourself with poker terminology or slang, keep it simple as you'll pick them up as you go.


Set up

All players are dealt 2 cards face down, followed by 5 cards face up. Players must make the best possible 5 card poker hand using the 5 community cards and their own face down hole cards. The best 5 card poker hand wins the hand and receives the pot.
At various stages players bet against each other on the value of their hands. A player can fold their hand at any stage.
Each betting stage is identical, and there are 4 stages of betting as listed below. They have fancy names but don't let it confuse you, you can think of them as stages 1-4. Once the betting stage is resolved, the next stage of the hand starts.

1. Pre-flop

There is a round of betting once all players have received their 2 hole cards. This round of betting is initiated by 2 mandatory bets called blinds put into the pot by the 2 players to the left of the dealer. There's no need to confuse yourself here, they're mandatory so there is an incentive (a pot to win) for people to play.

2. Flop

3 cards are then dealt face up. This is called the flop. Another round of betting proceeds, starting with the player on the left of the dealer. (The dealer is just a position)

3. Turn

1 more card is then dealt face up. This is called the turn. Again, there is another round of betting, starting with the player on the left of the dealer.

4. River

The 5th and last card is then dealt face up. This is called the river. There is one final round of betting before all cards are turned face up – the showdown.

Winning the pot

The player with the best 5 card poker hand wins the pot with all the bets made at each previous round. A player may also win the pot before the showdown if all other players fold.
Poker is not a game of chance but one where the twin elements of fortune and skill are both required to win. Over time, the application of skill will virtually eliminate the variance of luck.