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How a hand plays out

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In Texas Hold’em, play always begins with the dealer, who distributes two cards to each player. These are your ‘hole’ cards and will appear on screen only to you in best online gambling.

As the dealing takes place, the player to the left of the dealer places a forced bet (small blind), and the player to his left also does the same, but for twice the amount (the big blind).

In Hold’em the blinds are half that of the stakes you are playing at, so if you were in a $1/$2 cash game the blinds would be $0.50 and $1. After each hand the dealer button and the blinds move one seat to the left so that everyone takes their turn as the dealer and being in the blinds.

The first round of betting

After the deal there is an initial round of betting. The first person to act is the person to the left of the big blind, who is said to be ‘under the gun’. He has the option of folding (which costs nothing), calling the $1 big blind, or raising to $2 (in a $1/$2 game the fixed bets are in increments of $1 for the first two betting rounds).

If this player folds, the next player is faced with the same three options and so on around the table. Once someone raises all players still to act must either fold, call the current bet, or, if they have a strong hand, re-raise. In Hold’em only four bets are allowed on any round of betting, so if there were three raises in the first round (the big blind counts as the first bet) the betting would be capped at $4, and any remaining players would only be able to call, rather than re-raise.

Once everybody has had their turn, it’s time for the next stage of the hand.

The flop

Three cards are dealt face up in the middle of the table. They are known collectively as ‘the flop’.

The flop cards are community cards. Each player shares them with the rest. Players combine their private hole cards with the flop and make a five card poker hand.

There are still two more community cards to be dealt, so players don’t know exactly how strong their hand will become. But the flop gives them a good idea – because now they have seen five of the seven cards that will make up their final hand.

With the flop dealt, a second betting round begins. Starting with the player to the dealer’s left, each player takes it in turn to act. They can check, call, raise, or fold.

The Turn

After the second round of betting the dealer places a fourth card in the centre of the table face-up. This is called the ‘turn’. Now players must continue to make the best five-card hand from any of their two ‘hole’ cards and the four on the table. Once again betting starts with the player to the left of the dealer, but for this round the betting double, so in a $1/$2 game the bet becomes $2, a raise is to $4, a re-raise is to $6 and the capped bet is $8.

The River

If two or more players remain in the hand after the third round of betting the dealer deals a fifth card – the ‘river’ – face up in the centre of the table. Now there are seven cards in total that each player must make their best five-card hand from. Players do not have to use both their hole cards. It may be that they only need use one from their hand and four community cards, or even five from the centre in some cases. Betting continues at the $2 limit.


If by the end of the betting action there are two or more players left, having called or matched the other player(s) bets, those players turn their hole cards over and the cards ’speak’. If you have the best five-card hand at this point you win the pot, or you lose everything you put in if someone else has the best hand. Occasionally, if two or more players have identical hands the pot is split equally between the players.

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