The Shuffle, The Deal and The Blinds
The dealer shuffles a standard 52-card deck.
(In casinos, the dealer never plays. A round disc — known as a “dealer button” —
moves clockwise from player to player with each hand. The button marks which
player would be the dealer if the deal were advanced from player to player as the
game went along.)
Games start with the two players to the left of the dealer (the button) putting a
predetermined amount of money into the pot before any cards are dealt, ensuring that
there’s something to play for on every hand. This is called “posting the blinds.” Most
often, the “first blind” — the player to the left of the dealer — puts up half the
minimum bet, and the “second blind” puts up the full minimum bet.
Each player is dealt two cards; face down and unseen by the other players. These are
known as their hole cards.
A round of betting takes place, beginning with the player to the left of the two who
posted the blinds. Players can call, raise, or fold when it’s their turn to bet. A call
(known as a check when the amount to call is zero) means that the player will match
the highest bet so far put into the pot, minus whatever they have already contributed.
A raise means that the player will call whatever bet has already been made, and raise
the bet by a further amount. A fold means that the player forfeits all money in the pot,
throws in their hole cards, and waits for the next game. The round of betting continues
until every player has either called or folded the last bet/raise, with the consequence
that a player can’t re-raise himself.
After the first betting round, the dealer discards the top card of the deck. This is called
burning the card and is done to ensure that no one accidentally saw the top card, and
to help prevent cheating.
The dealer then flips the next three cards face up on the table. These cards are called
NOTE: Eventually, a total of five community cards will be placed face up on the table.
Players can use any combination of the community cards and their own two cards to
form the best possible five-card Poker hand.
After the flop, another round of betting takes place, beginning with the player to the
left of the dealer (the button). During this and all future rounds of betting, players
have to choose whether to check, call, raise, or fold when it’s their turn to bet.
The dealer burns another card and places one more card face up onto the table. This,
the fourth community card, is called the “turn” or “Fourth Street.”
The player to the left of the dealer (the button) begins the third round of betting.
The dealer burns another card before placing the final face-up card on the table. This
card is called the “river” or “Fifth Street.”
Final Betting and The Winner
Players can now use any combination of seven cards — the five community cards and
the two cards known only to them — to form the best possible five-card Poker hand.
The fourth and final round of betting starts with the player to the left of the dealer (the
After the final betting round, all players who remain in the game can reveal their
hands. The player who made the last raise in the river round shows their hand first. A
player can choose not to show their hand if they can’t beat a hand already shown. The
player with the best-ranked hand wins.
Split pots in betting
It is possible for a player to run out of money whilst betting, rendering him unable to
continue betting even though other players might wish to keep betting. In the event
that this happens, the concept of split pots is introduced. The main pot consists of all
money so far contributed by the other players to the pot up to the amount that the
player has so far contributed, plus any other money that was bet by people that have
already folded. This is under contention between all players. Then, a side pot is
created for all the people who still wish to bet. This pot is only filled by money from
those players that still wish to bet and have enough money to do so, and is therefore
also only under contention between those players that contributed to it. If the situation
arises again, a further side pot is created, and so on.