There are two ways to win at Texas Holdem: by holding the best hand or by bluffing your opponents into thinking that you hold the best hand.
Players form their hands by combining their two hole cards (visible only to the player that receives them) with the five community cards (visible to everyone, as they are placed face up in the middle of the table during the course of the game). The best hand in Texas Holdem is the best combination of 5 cards out of the 7 given to each player.
A game of Texas Holdem is played in a clockwise direction. Each player starts the game with a sum of money known as their “stack”. The table’s dealer is shown by a “button” marked “D”. Each player is dealt two cards face down, which only he or she may look at (these are known as “hole cards”). After each game of poker, the button passes from player to player in a clockwise direction.
The two players seated to the left of the dealer each place a forced bet known as a “blind”. Blinds are simply a way of kickstarting the action by forcing two players to bet. There is a “small blind” and a “big blind”. Each player is dealt two cards and the game begins with the player seated to the left of the big blind betting first.
Each player must now bid and there are three possible options. They may decide to “Call” (to bet the same amount of money as the most recent bet), “Raise” (to bet more money than the most recent bet) or “Fold” (to stop betting and drop out of the game). If nobody raises, the small blind has already staked half of the money required to stay in the game and see other cards. The big blind has already staked the full amount required to stay in the game and see other cards but he or she may also raise the bet. If this happens, the following player can choose to “Re-raise” (raise the bet again), call or fold. The cards belonging to players who have folded are removed from the table (“mucked”).
Three cards are placed face up in the middle of the table. Players who are still in the game (those who haven’t folded) have to combine these cards with their two hole cards in order to form the strongest possible combination. A second bidding round now starts. Each player again has the choice of raising, calling or folding. If none of the players decides to bet, a fourth choice now becomes possible: “Check”, which enables the game to be continued without a new bet being placed.
A fourth card (called the “Turn”) is placed face up next to the flop. Again, the same principle applies: you have to make the strongest possible combination from the four cards on the table and your two initial cards. A third bidding round begins, following exactly the same principle as for the Flop.
A fifth and final card (called the “River”) is turned over and the fourth bidding round begins. Once again, you may raise, call or fold. If, at the end of the round, several players have all made the same level of bets, their cards are turned over and the winner is the player with the best combination of cards. He or she wins the “pot” (all of the bets made during the game). If several players have exactly the same combination, the pot is divided amongst them. If only one player makes a higher bet and nobody calls, he or she wins the pot and does not have to show his or her hand.
The game is now over, the button passes on to the next player and a new game of Texas Holdem Poker begins.