Poker Primer

Texas Hold ‘Em No Limit Heads Up in 60 seconds!

Players take turns to be the dealer. The dealer just determines the initial bets and who acts first.

A hand begins with the dealer making a blind (forced) bet of 10 chips and the non-dealer 20 chips.

Each player is then dealt two cards (known as their hole cards) and there is a betting round.

A betting round consists of each player having an opportunity to bet and alternating betting until the amount they have put in the pot is the same (equalised). Players may also fold at any time in which case they lose the hand.

Once the bets are equalised, additional cards are dealt into the middle of the table. These are known as the board cards, and dealing them marks the start of the next round of betting.

There are four rounds of betting in total, called PreFlop, Flop, Turn and River.

At the start of the Flop round, three cards are dealt in the middle.
At the start of the Turn round, one additional card is added.
At the start of the River round, another card is added.

In each round after the additional card(s) are added, betting is carried out as above (each player has the opportunity to bet until the bets are equalised or one player folds).

If the other player has made a bet, players must add chips to make their total bet equal to the opponent’s to stay in the game. But if the opponent has not bet, players may bet 0 (called a “check”).

After the betting on the River round is complete and assuming neither player has folded, a Showdown occurs. Both players lay down their cards and the best poker hand is assessed, using any five cards from the seven card combination of the player’s hole cards plus the five on the board. The player with the best hand takes all the chips from the pot or if there is a draw, the pot is split between them.

Hand Value

Hands are assessed as follows, in highest to lowest value order:

Straight Flush – all five cards are the same suit and in sequential order. For example 45678. Ace can count low (A2345) or high (TJQKA).

Four of a Kind – Four of the same rank of card plus another card known as the kicker. If both players have the same four of a kind (which is possible as they share the five board cards), the kicker is considered in order to determine the winner. So for example KKKK9 would beat KKKK8.

Full House – Three cards of the same rank plus two cards of another same rank. For example QQQ77. To compare two full houses, the rank of the set of three cards is considered first, followed by the rank of the pair. So QQQ77 would beat QQQ66.

Flush – All five cards are the same suit. To compare two flushes, the highest card is compared first, followed by the next highest etc. So A9653 would beat A8765. There is no hierarchy of suits, so an A9632 flush in hearts is identical to an A9632 flush in diamonds.

Straight – All five cards are in sequential order. The ace can count low or high. So A2345 is a straight as is TJQKA. The top most card of the straight determines the winner if both players have one. So 89TJQ beats 789TJ.

Three of a Kind – Three cards are the same rank and the other two cards are “kickers”. In the case of both players having the same three card set, first the higher kicker then the lower are considered to determine the winner. So QQQ73 beats QQQ64.

Two Pair – A set of two cards of one rank plus another two cards of another rank plus one kicker. To determine the best hand we first consider the higher pair, then the lower pair, then the kicker. So AA883 beats AA776.

One Paid – A set of two cards of one rank plus three kickers. We consider the rank of the pair, followed by the rank of the highest kicker, the middle kicker then the lowest kicker. So AA862 beats AA854.

High Card – If the cards do not fit into any of the above categories, the hand is a high card. The highest card is compared first, followed by the next highest and so on through the five cards. So AJ752 beats AJ643.


Blinds and Who Acts First

In the two player (heads up) game, the blinds are set differently than when more than two players are present. The dealer posts the small blind and the non-dealer posts the big blind.

This means that the dealer is the first to act in the PreFlop round.

In subsequent rounds (Flop, Turn, River) the non-dealer is the first to act.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License