Too embarrassed to admit you don’t know how to play the most popular game in town? Dry your tears, pull up a chair to the table and pay attention. We’ll give you the lowdown before the showdown.
As many as 10 players sit around a table. One of the players is the dealer for the first round. Dealer responsibility moves to the left one player at a time, after each hand (round of play).
Before any cards are dealt, the two players directly to the left of the dealer must post "blinds" or place a bet before seeing their cards. The player to the immediate left of the dealer button posts the "small blind," half of the minimum bet. In a 5/10 game, the small blind would be $2. The player to the left of the small blind posts the "big blind," equal to the minimum bet. In a 5/10 game, the big blind would be $5.
Once the blinds are posted, each player is dealt two cards face down, called the "pocket" cards. Each player can see their own pocket cards. In the first round of betting, the player immediately to the left of the big blind starts off. Players continue to place bets in a clockwise direction around the table.
Table stakes determine bet amounts. For example, at a 5/10 table, the minimum bet is $5 in the first two rounds and $10 in the last two. The bet amount can be raised a maximum of 3 times in each round of betting. In other words, there can be one bet and three raises in each round. Players may call the bet (match it), raise it or fold (pull out of the betting and the rest of the hand).
Next, three cards are dealt face up in the center of the table, also called the board. These cards are called the "Flop." These are "community" cards — they can be used by all the players to make up their hand. The point of the game is to put together the best five-card hand between your pocket cards and the cards on the board. Or at least to make the other players think you have a great hand. After the flop, it’s time for a second round of betting, starting with the player to the left of the dealer. All subsequent rounds of betting start with the player to the left of the dealer.
Next, the fourth community card called the "Turn" is dealt face up in the center of the table. This card can be used by all players. It is followed by a third round of betting.
Finally, the fifth and final community card is dealt face up in the center of the table. Called the "River" card, it is followed by the fourth and final round of betting.
This is the end of the game when everyone has to reveal their hand. Once all betting is finished, players determine the best five-card hand that they can make using any combination of their pocket cards and the community cards. The player with the best hand wins the pot.
Start all over
After a hand is completed, the dealer moves one player to the left, and the next hand begins.