These rules are for No-Limit Texas Hold’em (NLHE), which is one of the most popular poker variants.
Each player completes a “buy-in” to the game for a pre-agreed amount - usually 100 times the amount of the big blind - and receives a stack of chips. One player is designated as the dealer (sometimes referred to as the button position) while the two players to the dealer’s immediate left are designated as the small and big blinds respectively. The big blind will have to put down the minimum bet for the game, while the small blind is obliged to post half that amount.
Two cards, face down, are dealt to each player and are known as hole cards. After this, the players can inspect their cards and decide whether or not they want to fold or continue with the action. An initial round of betting takes place, starting from the player sitting to the immediate left of the big blind. They can choose to fold, check, match the bet made by the big blind (call) or raise. If they fold, check or call, the action moves to the next player, and so on. If a player in middle or late position raises during this round, then all players - including the blinds - must meet the raise to stay in the game. The betting will continue until it returns to the player who opened the pot.
After the initial round of betting has finished, the dealer burns (discards) one card, after which three cards, referred to as the flop, are dealt face-up and placed in the middle of the table. Players look at their cards again and try to see if they can form the best five-card hand in the group. A round of betting takes place again, which is then followed with a fourth card, the turn, being dealt face-up. Another round of betting takes place, after which a fifth and final community card, known as the river, is dealt. A final round of betting takes place, after which the remaining players turn over their hole cards, with the person who holds the best five-card hand declared as the winner. They take the chips that have been put into the pot for that round of play.
Once a hand has been completed, the dealer button moves to the next player on the left, with the small and big blind positions moving forward as well. Gameplay continues until one player is left with a chip stack.
When playing Texas Hold’em in a cardroom, there are some rules and etiquette to follow to ensure that you and your fellow players have a pleasant and fun experience.
Never talk about your hand, or ask others to reveal details about their own hands. You also shouldn’t offer advice to active players if you’re hanging around the table after you’ve been eliminated from play.
The dealer is not allowed to show you the cards that have been mucked over the course of a game. While you are allowed to see a called hand on the river, it’s generally considered to be poor behaviour and you shouldn’t ask unless you are absolutely sure you have proof that your other opponents have been colluding or otherwise interfering with the game.
Make your decisions in good time. This doesn’t mean that you have to raise or fold within seconds of the action coming to you, but you shouldn’t take ten minutes to think about your next move. Tanking is not looked upon favourably. You also shouldn’t slow roll if you’ve made it to the showdown - if you’re sure you have the strongest hand, reveal your cards when it’s your turn and don’t force others to show before you do.
Always treat the dealer and other players with respect. It can be frustrating to lose a pot, go on a bad beat or lose your entire stack and have to depart the table, but this doesn’t mean that you can be physically or verbally abusive to other players.
Most online poker sites will ask that you stick to English only if you are using the chat function. This helps prevent collusion and keeps things running smoothly throughout the course of the game. Abusive language or talking about your cards, whether you’ve mucked them or are still in play, will not be tolerated. Excessive chatting is also frowned upon, as it might affect the ability of other players to focus on the game.
Keep calm if you’re on a losing streak - going on tilt and playing recklessly will make things worse and could see you lose even more of your bankroll. If you’re ready to throw your computer or tablet through the window, leave the table, sign out of the site and take some time to clear your thoughts. You can always come back later and sit down at a new game.
Visit the Poker Etiquette page for more information.
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