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GAMES: Texas Holdem' Rules

Texas Hold 'Em is the primary version of Poker played in many casinos, and it's the version seen on television shows like the Travel Channel's World Poker Tour and ESPN's World Series of Poker.

The Rules

The Shuffle, the Deal and the Blinds
The dealer shuffles a standard 52-card deck. (In casinos, the dealer never plays. A round disc -- known as a "dealer button" -- moves clockwise from player to player with each hand. The button marks which player would be the dealer if the deal were advanced from player to player as the game went along.)

Most Texas Hold 'Em Poker games start with the two players to the left of the dealer (the button) putting a predetermined amount of money into the pot before any cards are dealt, ensuring that there's something to play for on every hand. This is called "posting the blinds." Most often, the "first blind" -- the player to the left of the dealer -- puts up half the minimum bet, and the "second blind" puts up the full minimum bet. Blinds are simply forced bets, similar to antes. Each player is dealt two cards, face down. These are known as the "Hole Cards."

Betting Begins
A round of betting takes place, beginning with the player to the left of the big blind. Players can call, raise or fold when it's their turn to bet.

The Flop
After the first betting round, the dealer discards the top card of the deck. This is called burning the card and is done to ensure that no one accidentally saw the top card, and to help prevent cheating. The dealer then flips the next three cards face up on the table. These cards are called the "flop."

NOTE: Eventually, a total of five community cards will be placed face up on the table. Players can use any combination of the community cards and their own two hole cards to form the best possible five-card Poker hand.

After the flop, another round of betting takes place, beginning with the player to the left of the dealer (the button). During this and all future rounds of betting, players can check, call, raise or fold when it's their turn to bet.

Fourth Street
The dealer burns another card and places one more face up onto the table. This, the fourth community card, is called the "turn" or "Fourth Street." The player to the left of the dealer (the button) begins the third round of betting.

Fifth Street
The dealer burns another card before placing the final face-up card on the table. This card is called the "river" or "Fifth Street."

Final Betting and The Winner
Players can now use any combination of seven cards -- the five community cards and the two hole cards known only to them -- to form the best possible five-card Poker hand. The fourth and final round of betting starts with the player to the left of the dealer (the button). After the final betting round, all players who remain in the game reveal their hands. The player who made the initial bet or the player who made the last raise shows their hand first. The player with the best hand wins. See below for the ranking of poker hands.

Poker Hand Ranking
Pictured below are the hands of poker, listed in order from highest poker hand to the lowest. In poker, certain combinations of cards, or hands, outrank other hands, based on the frequency with which these combinations appear. The player with the best poker hand at the showdown wins the pot.

Royal Flush
The five highest cards, the 10 through the Ace, all five of the same suit. A Royal Flush is actually an Ace-High Straight Flush. Which suit it is doesn't matter in Poker. Two people with Royal Flushes would tie.
Straight Flush
Any five cards of the same suit in consecutive numerical order. Our example shows a 5-high Straight Flush.
Four of a Kind
Four cards of the same denomination. Our example shows four jacks with a deuce kicker.
Full House
Any 3 cards of the same denomination, plus any pair of a different denomination. Ties are broken first by the Three of a Kind, then the Pair. Our example shows sevens full of threes.
Flush
Any 5 non-consecutive cards of the same suit. Our example shows a Queen-High Diamond Flush.
Straight
Any five consecutive cards of mixed suits. Ace can be high or low. Our example shows a six-to-ten straight.
Three of a Kind
Three cards of the same denomination. Our example displays three of a kind, fours.
Two Pair
Any two cards of the same denomination, plus any other two cards of the same denomination. If both hands have the same high pair, the second pair wins. If both pairs tie, the high card wins. Our example shows two pair, eights and fives.
Pair
Any two cards of the same denomination. Our example displays a pair of nines. In a tie, the high card wins.
High Card
If no other hand is achieved, the highest card held wins. In our example, the King of Hearts is the high card.