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In this new series, I’ll be spotlighting different types of card games. They all fall under the poker family, but have unique differences and rules that can be equal parts fun and challenging to learn. This month, we’re starting simple with my favorite: Texas Hold’em. In this popular game, each player receives two cards and has access to five community cards the dealer presents face-down in the middle of the table. Let’s take a look at how the game is played.

Step #1 – The Buttons

There are three buttons placed in front of three players at the start of every game: the dealer (or button), the small blind, and the big blind. These buttons help the dealer keep track of who to deal to at the start of each game. Typically, big blind and small blind players start as the ones to the left of the dealer.

The small and big blinds require corresponding players to place bets. Typically, the small blind is half the amount of the big blind. 

Step #2 – Under the Gun

The person who comes after the big blind has three options, which puts them “under the gun.” The first, calling the blind, the player to bet the same amount as the big blind. The second, raising, allows that player to increase the betting pool by putting in more than the big blind. The third, folding, is basically a concession. A player who folds lays down cards without calling the bet. The rest of the players do the same in a clockwise manner until all non-folded members have placed equal bets; this section is called the “pre-flop.”

Step #3 – The Flop

The dealer will now present the flop, which turns three of the community cards face-up. Players are able to bet on the flop, starting with the first player after the button-holder and moving clockwise. Again, players have opportunities to call, raise, or fold. However, they also earn the option to check, which means they can pass their turn without placing a bet or wager. However, this can only be done if no one has placed a bet yet. 

Step #4 – The Turn

The third round of betting takes place with the reveal of the turn, which is the fourth community card. Again, this starts with the first person clockwise of the dealer button and allows players to call, raise, fold, or check. 

Step #5 – The River

The fifth and final community card is called the river. The river reveal marks the end of the major betting cycles, giving players a last chance to check, call, raise, or fold. 

Step #6 – The Showdown

After final bets and folds are made, if there are two or more players still in, the last person to bet or raise must reveal their cards. The dealer determines who of the remaining players has the strongest five-card hand and awards the pot to the victor. Winning hands are determined by card number, color, suit, and positioning.

Compared to The gameplay is simpler than the other poker variants out there. Players are only dealt two cards and can generate a variety of playstyles and strategies. Some of the other poker variants aren’t as simple, which makes Texas Hold’em the perfect place to start!