The brief (all right – not so brief) explanation that follows is my understanding of how the game of Texas Holdem is structured. This is how I view the game as I play it.
There is much more to the game then just how the cards are dealt and to me that is the fun of it. The way different people play the game can make any of the tables you join to play; exciting, challenging, tedious, profitable, or just down right bonkers.
Texas Holdem – Each player is dealt two down cards or hole cards that can be used with the five common cards dealt face up on the card table. The player must make his best hand using any five of the seven cards available. The player can even use just the common cards if that makes the best hand. Generally when that happens, everyone that was in the hand (those that have not folded their cards) share equally in the pot unless someone else’s hand is better.
Down or hole cards – the two cards that each player is dealt.
The flop – the three common cards dealt face-up after the dealer discards (also called burning a card) the top card on the deck to the discard pile known as the muck.
The turn – the forth common card dealt face-up after the dealer discards the top card to the muck.
The river – the fifth and final common card dealt face-up after the dealer discards the top card.
After the two down cards are dealt, a round of betting usually occurs – called pre-flop betting.
After this round of betting the dealer discards the top card from the top of the deck and then turns over three cards known as the flop.
After the flop, there is usually a round of betting.
If there are at least two players still in the hand after the betting , (many players may fold if their hand has not improved or if they don’t wish to bluff), the dealer discards the top card and the next card is placed face up on the table, next to the three previously flopped cards. This fourth card is usually referred to as the “turn” card.
After the turn card is shown, there also may be a round of betting.
If there are at least two players left after this round of betting, the dealer discards the top card and turns over the 5th card face up.
This card is called the river card and is the final card to be turned over. By now all five common cards are shown face up at the table.
There can be final round of betting after the river and the best hand(s) will win the pot. (There can be a tie if both hands are the same or if the winning hand is made with all of the five common cards. But more on that later.)
The type of betting allowed also can influence how you play the game. The various type of betting are as follows:
Limit or which is a fixed limit bet
Pot Limit – limited to the total amount that the pot can contain in a round of betting (by raising instead of calling, the pot size increases as well).
No Limit which means you can bet any amount up to all that you have in front of you
More on betting and its uses in the various games later.