For many, poker is the ultimate casino game. It combines skill and luck in the perfect balance, allowing the best to rise to the top, while always ensuring that every hand is an exciting one.

We’ve already let you know about the best online poker sites, so now we’re going to show you exactly how to play Texas hold’em, the most popular variety of poker. So, keep on reading to discover exactly how this popular card game is played.

Aim of the Game

The aim of poker is simple: be the last person standing in the hand.

If you can get all others to fold their cards, you’ll scoop the pot, regardless of the hand you’re holding. Sometimes you might really have a strong hand, while other times you could simply be bluffing.

If two or more players are left at the end of a hand though, they’ll be forced to show their hands. The money in the middle will then go to the player with the strongest hand. To help you understand how strong a hand is, we’ve created a useful guide to the different poker hands below…

How to Play Poker

Those looking for how to play poker will find that it’s an easy game to learn, but a tough game to master.

In order to understand the game properly, you’ll need to be familiar with the general gameplay, which we’re going to take you through step-by-step…

  1. Before cards are dealt, work out your table position. The later you are to act, the better your position is. Also, place your blind if you’re one of the two players to the left of the dealer.
  2. You’ll now be dealt two cards. Strong hands include pairs and two cards over the value of 10.
  3. The player to the left of the big blind then acts. They can call the big blind, raise the big blind, or fold. Action then goes clockwise, and betting stops when all players have put in the same money or folded.
  4. The dealer will then deal three cards into the middle of the table. The goal is to use these cards, as well as the other two dealt after and your own hand, to make the best five-card poker hand.
  5. There’s then another round of betting, this time starting with the player to the left of the dealer.
  6. This process is repeated twice more, but this time only one card at a time is dealt. This leaves five cards in the middle. You will then know exactly how strong your hand is.
  7. A final round of betting then takes place.
  8. After this, remaining players will compare hands. The player with the best hand wins.
  9. It’s now time for another hand. The dealer button moves one place to the left and everything is repeated all over again.

Poker Rules

There are quite a few important rules to remember when playing poker, both online and in a land-based venue.

  • The player with the strongest hand will win the pot if a showdown occurs.
  • It is possible to finish the hand before the showdown by getting all other players to fold their hands. The remaining player wins the money.
  • In no limit Texas hold’em there’s no maximum on the amount that can be bet. Pot limit Texas hold’em does cap the maximum raise though.
  • Folding players should never reveal their hands to others at the table, as it could have an effect on the other player’s decision.
  • If two players have exactly the same hand, the pot will be split between them equally (providing no player is all-in).
  • If a player bets all their chips, they can’t win anything more than that total of chips from other players. Betting continues though, with extra bets placed in a separate side pot.
  • Talking is allowed at the table, however when playing poker online, chat will usually be suspended if a player goes all-in.
  • If a player calls your bet in the final round of betting, you must show them your cards. At all other points, you do not need to show your cards when folding.
  • It is often the case that only one language will be allowed to be spoken at the table. Due to how widely it is spoken, that language is usually English.
  • The “show one, show all” rule means that you’re not allowed to show your cards to just one player. Instead, if you want to show, everyone must see your cards.
  • Games of online poker will have a timer and a turn must be taken within that time. If not, the hand is checked/folded.
  • In live games, there is no time limit, however another player can “call the clock” on a player taking a long time. The player will then have one minute to act. Calling the clock is considered rude in many situations.

Poker Strategy

Poker strategy can be pretty simple, however there are also advanced strategies that take years to learn.

Visit our poker strategy page to learn more about mastering aspects of this game.


That’s everything you need to know when it comes to the basics of playing poker.

We recommend memorizing the hand values before you play and also learning the main rules listed above. Playing poker for free gives you a good opportunity to learn about the game, without ever having to risk any of your own cash,.

You’ll find that free poker is offered at all the online poker sites we recommend. Once you’ve started understanding things more you can start to play poker at real money tables, which is where things get really exciting…