So you want to be the next poker superstar? Possibly the next Phil Ivey? Or perhaps you just want to learn the game to win some extra cash. Whatever the case may be, you will first be required to learn the basics of this game we like to call no-limit Texas hold’em; this is the most popular form of poker nowadays. So let’s get started!
No-limit hold’em or NLH is a form of poker that requires a deck of 52 cards with a minimum of two players and a maximum of 10 players per table. When you are playing against one opponent, this is called heads-up. In every game, there is a dealer; this is the person chosen to deal the game by distributing two cards to every player. The dealer will typically start a game by checking its deck of cards to make sure there are exactly 52 cards. In NLH, the joker is not part of the deck. Once this is done, the dealer will draw out one card for every player and the player with the highest card will be known as the dealer button; this is represented typically by a white medium-sized button with the text :Dealer.” The dealer button, which rotates clockwise from player to player after every round is also what defines who will post the blinds. So what are the blinds? The blinds is the obligatory amount of chips that you must put before the cards are even dealt for each round. There is a small blind and a big blind which is expected to be put by the players to the left of the dealer button. Example:
The stakes are $5/$10. There are five players in play.
Player 1: Dealer button
Player 2: Small Blind (Puts $5)
Player 3: Big Blind (Puts $10)
Player 4: N/A
Player 5: N/A
This also defines our round. Once a round has passed, the dealer button moves clockwise to the next player and thus the next players are now Small Blind and Big Blind. This is how it would look on round 2:
The stakes are $5/$10. There are 5 players in play.
Player 1: N/A
Player 2: Dealer button
Player 3: Small Blind (Puts $5)
Player 4: Big Blind (Puts $10)
Player 5: N/A
This leads us to the actual game. As previously mentioned, you are dealt 2 cards; the goal is to make the best 5-card hand combination using the Community Cards (the combination of the Flop, Turn and River). The flop is the first 3 cards, the turn is the next card, and the river is the last card. Once the blinds have been posted and the dealer has dealt all the players, the first person to act will be the player to the left of the small blind. This player will have 3 options:
1) Raise (You must put at least double than the big blind, or more)
2) Call (You must match the big blind)
3) Fold (You must throw away your cards)
Then once this player has made a decision, it will be up to the player to the left of that player to make a decision; this player will have the same equal decisions available to him with a slight difference: He is able to re-raise the previous raise; this means he is able to put up any amount of chips more than the double of what his previous opponent raised. Example:
Player 1: Small Blind $5
Player 2: Big Blind $10
Player 3: …. Decides to raise to $20
Player 4: …. Decides to re-raise to $73
Once each player has made their decisions, the only players left should be the ones who haven’t folded their cards. All the chips put in the middle is now known as the pot. The flop is now dealt and 3 cards are shown. (Part of the community cards to help you determine your hand) The player to the left of the dealer button is the first to act and gets 2 possible decisions in this case:
1) Bet (You must put any amount you want, and must match at least the big blind)
2) Check (You basically pass your turn to your opponent)
If you decide to check, your opponent will be next to act, and he can check as well. If he decides to check, we will
see the next community card or the turn. If you decide to bet, he will once again have the options to: call, fold, raise. And so on… So for the sake of our example, you decide to check, and he checks as well. The dealer shows the turn and once again it is the player to the left of the dealer button who must act first. Then finally comes the river or the last community card shown by the dealer. This would look something like this:
Flop: [A]  [K], Turn: , River:  (Community Cards)
So now you ask, how do we determine the winner? Simple. Remember, you’re trying to make the best five-card hand combination. This is done by looking at the following poker hand ranking:
Remember the community cards are here to help you determine the best hand.
The goal is to accumulate and extract as many chips as possible from your opponents and be the last one standing. Now that you have learned the basics, I hope you can take it to the next level. The best way to learn is through practice. And although you may be overwhelmed with these basics, don’t be worried as you will catch on very soon and start playing this great game.