1. The Players to the left of the Dealer begin by posting the blind bets.
2. Two pocket cards are dealt to each Player – face-down
3. First round of betting – options are to fold, bet, or raise. Only one bet, and three raises per Player are allowed on the first round. Players cannot "check" in the first round, as Blinds are bets, and not antes.
4. Three communal cards (flop) are dealt face-up in the center of the table. All communal cards are active for all Players and can be used in combination with each Player’s two cards.
5. Second round of betting – options are to check, fold, bet, or raise.
6. Fourth communal card (Turn) is dealt face-up.
7. Third round of betting – options are to check, fold, bet, or raise.
8. If, at this stage, there are still at least two vying Players, the fifth, and final communal card (River) is dealt face-up.
9. Final round of betting follows.
10. The Showdown! All remaining Players then create the best five-card hand possible. You can use: both pocket cards and three communal cards or one pocket card and four communal cards or all five communal cards
11. The best hand wins the pot! If two or more Players have the same winning hand, the pot is split equally between them.
A Texas Hold Em Example
Texas Hold Em is the most popular of poker games. The way the game works is each player is dealt two cards face down. To play your hand you have to at least match the biggest bet at the table. There are also two automatic bets to start every game. They are called the big and small blind.
Lets use the example of $1-$2 no limit texas hold em game where I am the small blind. I am required to put a $1 bet on the table and the person to my left is required to put out a $2 bet. Now everyone who wants to play this hand has to at least match that $2 big blind bet.
The button or also known as the dealer is now on my right. The rotation moves clockwise. The dealer or button is always last to act. While the small and big blind are first and second to act respectively.
Lets say the person to the left of the big blind raises another $2, making it a $4 bet. Now everyone at the table has to at least bet $4 to play this round. I would have to add $3 to my $1 already put in on the small blind bet and the big blind would have to add an additional $2.
Ok got it? Those are the basics.
Now since we have 3 players involved all matching the required raised bet of $4, we now get to see the flop.
The best 5 card hand wins in Texas Hold Em. You use at least 3 cards sometimes all 5 cards on the flop, but it usually comes down to the two cards you are dealt plus any 3 cards on the flop to make your best hand.
Lets say the flop, also known as the board, shows 6♥ Q♠ 3♦. This is called a rainbow flop, because a different suit hit for each card. There is no flush on the table, and no flush draw.
I am holding A♥ and Q♠, while the big blind has 6♠ and 7♥, and the raiser to his left has J♦ and J♣.
Currently I have the best hand with my Queens, while the big blind has a middle pair of 6′s and the raiser has pocket jacks.
A round of betting occurs here once all players see the flop. Lets say I raise $4, the big blind folds, but the original raiser raises me another $4 making it $8. I need to add $4 to my original bet to continue to play. So I make it $8 and we see the next round. The turn card.
The fourth card in Hold Em is called the turn.
The turn card is dealt and its a 10♣. So the board looks like this:
6♥ Q♠ 3♦ 10♣
I am still in front with my Queens and the raiser has J♦ and J♣. I check. The raiser bets $10, I reraise $10. This is called a check raise. He calls the additional $10 making it $20, so we get to see the final card and last round of betting.
The final card is called the river.
The river card is dealt and its a J♠.
I check again, the raiser goes all in with his set of Jacks, also known as three of a kind. I fold my top pair of Queens.
The original raiser wins the pot ($68 not including the rake).
If you want to get your feet wet
The following list of poker sites offer free play and require no real money to play. Every poker site offers the ability to play for free with no pressure ever to sign up. In fact, poker sites sometimes cater to the play money player by offering points for free play that you can exchange for prizes. In addition, they often run freeroll tournaments for free players. They give you no excuse to try out the game of Texas Hold Em.