How to play – Introduction to No Limit Texas Hold'em (NLHE)

No-limit Texas holdem (NLHE) is the most popular poker variant and is played using a standard 52-card deck. The objective of a NLHE game is to win all of your opponent/opponents' chips. There are two ways to win a hand, either by having the best hand or by betting to induce your opponents to discard (‘fold') their hand.

Hand rankings

At the start of each hand each player is dealt two ‘hole' cards, which only they can see. A player can use any combination of their two hole cards and the five community cards, which are shared by all players, to make the best possible five card combination.

If two or more players opt to remain in the hand after all five cards have been dealt, this is called a ‘showdown'. If a hand reaches showdown, the remaining players reveal their hole cards, with the chips in the pot going to the player with the strongest hand. The order of poker hands (starting with the strongest first) are as follows:

Royal Flush

Straight Flush

Four of a Kind

Full House



Three of a Kind

Two Pair

One Pair

High Card

Getting started

Before any cards are dealt or any betting takes place, the ‘dealer button' is placed in front of one of the players. The button signifies the order of play and moves left (clockwise) one seat at the start of every new hand.

The two players to the left of the button are each forced to make a compulsory bet, known as the ‘small blind' and the ‘big blind'. They are known as ‘the blinds' because the players have to make the bets prior to their cards being dealt.

The player sitting to the immediate left of the button is referred to as the ‘small blind' and the player sitting to his or her left is the ‘big blind'. The small blind is usually half the value of the big blind.

Betting Rules

In No Limit Hold'em players are able to raise any amount from their stack as long as it's at least twice the amount of the big blind or the last bet/raise.

The action continues around the table, with each player receiving the option to raise, bet or fold depending on the action of previous players.

All in:

If a player bets all their chips on the table they are declared "all in". An "all in" player cannot win or lose more chips than those they have invested and any further rounds of betting between other players are collected in a side pot. At showdown the "all in" player can only win the Main pot while the other players can win both the main and the side pot (as they have invested chips in both).

Community cards and the showdown

After the players have been dealt their hole cards, everyone has the chance to bet or fold their hand starting with the person to the left of the big blind and continuing clockwise. This is the first of a potential four rounds of betting and is known as ‘preflop'.

After the initial betting round, ‘the flop' is dealt, which is the first three community cards. The players have another round of betting and now have the additional option of ‘checking' if they're not facing a bet.

‘The turn' card is then dealt, which is the fourth community card, also followed by a round of betting.

Finally ‘the river', the fifth community card is dealt and is followed by a final round of betting.

If two or more players opt to remain in a hand until the end, then a ‘showdown' takes place, where the players reveal their hands and the winning hand takes the pot.

The pot can also be won at any point in the hand if all players but one fold their hands.



How to play