Understanding poker rules is of course crucial if you’re trying to get a game going.
Poker is easy to learn yet hard to master – but there’s no reason to over complicate things when explaining poker rules.

This blog will tell you everything you need to know and I’ve even created a 4 minute video, so you don’t have to read unless you want to dive deeper. The video is a part of a 6 video series teaching you poker strategy, but you only need to see the first one to understand poker rules.

Let’s get started.

Poker Rules

Texas Hold’em Poker Rules

Now ‘poker’ is actually not just one game, but a whole genre of card games.
But Texas Hold’em is by far the most popular one, and probably the one that brought you here after watching Casino Royale’ playing Red Dead Redemption or binging Kakegurui.
All great reasons, by the way.

Texas Hold’em Poker is usually played by 2-12 players who all sit down at a table.

You then choose who’s going to be the ‘dealer’ for the first round. This role usually just passed clockwise after every round.
But how do you decide who gets to be the first dealer?

Who is the first dealer in a game of poker?

This is usually decided by ‘dealing to the first ace’. So, one of you picks up the deck of cards, and starts dealing a card to each player, for everyone to see. The first person to be dealt an ace will have the honor of being the first dealer of the game. This is not a part of the official poker rules, but it’s how most home games do it.

Being the dealer of a round is usually considered a positive thing, since this means you get to act last – after watching all other players act their turn. More on this in our blog about playing poker in position.

Basic Poker Rules

After shuffling the deck, the dealer serves all players two cards, heads down.
You see your own cards, but keep them a secret. 
The very essence of poker is that you then bet on whether your hand is the best, or not.
The order in which players have to act moves clockwise around the table. 

Have a bad feeling about your hand? Fold.
Feel good about your cards? Bet. How much is up to you.

Poker Rules

Players who fold their hand, give up their cards and sit the rest of the round out.
If someone makes a bet, they automatically up the cost of further participation in the round. Meaning all following players need to match that bet to stay in a round. 

Once every player has made the choice to bet or fold, the chips are gathered in what we call the pot.
The aggregated prize for winning the round.

To ensure every hand in poker always has something to play for, we have the two roles of small and big blind.

Small and Big Blind

What does small and big blind mean? Don’t worry, although this is often the part of poker rules that confuses beginners the most, it’s actually pretty simple.

The person sitting after the dealer is small blind and the person after that is the round’s big blind. Just as the role of dealer, small and big blinds change clockwise after every round. The small and big blind are required to bet a predetermined, often small amount. Like 10 and 20. Big blind is always double the small blind.

Blinds are there to make sure every round of poker matters, and that there is always something to be won.

Other than that, it works as a gentle ‘push’ for players who haven’t got the nerve to bet. 

Poker Rules

What are community cards?

Alright, so we now know that the essence of poker rules is to be dealt two cards and then bet on whether your cards are the best at the table.
But, as you might imagine, this becomes pretty boring and predictable. Like, if you’re dealt a pair of aces, you’d be sure to win.

This is why, in a full round of poker, another 5 cards are drawn from the deck and placed on the table, face up, for everyone to see. These are called community cards, and they are the part of the game that makes poker unpredictable. 

At the end of a poker round, your final ‘poker hand’ will consist of the best 5 card combination of the two cards in your hand and the 5 cards on the table.

Poker Rules

The cards in your hand are for you to use only, but every player in the round can mix their cards with the community cards – and yes, multiple players can of course use them at the same time. In some rare cases, your final poker hand of the round doesn’t even include the two cards you’re holding in your hand, if the community cards have a straight for instance.

But, to keep the possibility of twists and turns, not all community cards are drawn and placed at the same time. It goes flop, turn and river. 

What is the flop?

After all players have made their initial choice of betting or folding, the chips are gathered in the pot and this is when 3 of the 5 community cards are drawn and placed on the table.
These first 3 community cards are called ‘the flop’.

Poker Rules

After the flop, another round takes place, where players again get to either bet, fold or check. Checking means you’d like to proceed without betting and is only possible if no one before you has betted in this round. If any remaining player makes a bet, all players have to either match that or give up their cards.
So if I check, but the guy after me makes a bet, I then have to make a choice to follow or fold before the round can continue.

The small and big blinds are not forced to bet any amount after the flop – that is only for the first round of a hand. 

What is the turn?

When all remaining players have made their choices, assuming 2 or more players are still in the round, another community card is drawn from the deck and placed by the other 3.
This one is called ‘the turn’.

Poker Rules

Exactly same procedure as after the flop was turned.
Remaining players get to check, bet or fold, before a fifth and final community card is drawn.

What is the river?

The river is the fifth and final community card, and all players now know what 5 cards make up their final hand. A last round of checking, betting and/or folding follows.
After that, we get to see who wins, when all remaining players have to show their cards in what we call ‘the showdown’.

Poker Rules

Showdown in poker

When the last actions have been made in a round of poker, players lay down their 2 cards and show the rest of the players what they’ve got.
You can really do it in whatever order you wish, but according to the official poker rules, the showdown follows the same order as the round has.

The player with the best 5 card combination of the 2 cards in their hand and the 5 cards on the table, wins the round and collects all the chips in the pot. If two or more players have the exact same hand, they split the pot evenly.

In this case we win because we have a pair of aces + a king, a jack and a ten.

Poker Rules

What are the different poker hands?

There are 10 different kinds of ‘poker hands’ to have.
Here is a video explaining what beats what – also described in this blogpost.

A digital poker set

If you and your friends are new to poker, and just want to play and learn – I recommend using our free EasyPoker app
It’s designed to take care of your poker night, so you don’t need chips, cards or even a table. 
The app takes care of everything. 

It’s free, simle to understand, has no gambling and you only play with friends you know.

Perfect for poker with friends.

Poker Rules
Poker Rules

More Poker Rules & content

So, now you know your poker rules and are ready to play some poker with friends.

Ready for ‘all in’, ‘pocket aces’ and ‘flipping the nuts’. But what does all of this even mean?
Prepare for your next poker night by reading up on some poker lingo.

Or if you’d like, you can brush up on how to tell if someone is bluffing. Should come in handy. 

poker terms and slang
Poker positions