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Texas Hold'em Rules

Your poker career should begin by making sure you understand the rules. Here are the key concepts you need to know: how a poker hand is played out and what are your options throughout.

Texas Hold'em is played using a standard 52 card deck, and between two to ten players. Big tournaments may include many hundreds of players but during any one hand, the player is only competing against others on his or her table.

Before every hand, one player is designated the nominal "dealer", identified by a marker known as the dealer button or "button". This person does not actually deal the cards - especially not online, where it is done automatically - but the position of the dealer determines which two players have to post the "blind" bets that get the action started.

The two players to the left of the dealer must post these compulsory "blinds" - so called because they are placed before anyone even sees their cards. The player on the dealer's immediate left posts the "small blind" and the player one further seat round the table posts the "big blind", which is usually twice the size of the small. 

In the illustration, the dealer is in seat five with the button in front of him. The two seats to his left are "in the blinds".

After every hand is complete, the dealer button moves clockwise one position around the table, which means that players take turns to be the dealer, the small blind and the big blind.

After the blinds have been posted, all players are dealt two cards face down. These are known as "hole" cards, and can only be seen and used by one player. By the end of the hand, five more "community" cards may have been dealt, face up in the middle of the table, which are available for all players to use. 

The first three of the community cards are exposed together (known as the "flop"), then a fourth card (known as the "turn") is dealt individually, and then a fifth (known as the "river") is exposed. A betting round separates each deal.

The aim of poker is to make the best five-card hand out of the seven available - two in an individual's hand and the five community cards.

THE FOUR BETTING ROUNDS

If a hand of poker is played all the way to its conclusion, there will be four betting rounds - or four periods during which players can commit their chips to the pot. A player can also "fold" their cards and leave the action at any time (see below).

A betting round must be concluded satisfactorily before the remaining players see more cards and another betting round begins.

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