How to play
How to play Texas Hold'em
The objective of Texas Hold'em is to make the best five-card hand you can, using any combination from the two cards that you are dealt and five community cards on the board (so up to seven cards in total). You can use one, both, or none of your cards to make your best hand.
All players in the game are dealt two cards face down, known as hole cards. These cards are under the direct control of each player and remain only known to the that player during play. The five cards known as community cards are dealt out onto the centre of the table and shown face-up. Each player uses these five cards along with their two hole cards to build a five-card poker hand.
Betting, checking, or folding actions are made by individual players based on the strength of the cards they hold combined with the communal cards revealed during play. After the betting rounds are over, the player with the strongest hand, or the last player left after all others have folded, wins the hand.
Before the first cards are dealt, two bets must be posted by two players. These bets are known as blinds, specifically the big blind and the small blind. The value of the blinds is predetermined, with the small blind being half the value of the big blind. These are the first bets to go into the pot, and if no betting takes place, this is the minimum amount of chips to be won in a hand. The small blind position is always the seat to the left of the dealer, and the big blind is the seat to the left of the small blind.
On the first round of betting, every player (starting with the seat to the left of the big blind) makes their choice of play and acts. Usually determined by the cards they're holding, each player in turn must decide if they wish to call (equal) the big blind amount, raise the bet by putting in more money, or fold their hand without betting.
The dealer position, designated by the dealer button, is considered the prime position. The dealer is the last to act after previous players have either called, raised or folded, and the position rotates clockwise with each new hand dealt.
If no player raises the big blind, then the player in the big blind position may raise the current bet themselves, or check to proceed to the flop and the next round of betting. A player who has raised and is then re-raised by another may re-raise once more. The round of betting stops when all players have either folded or equalled the last action.
Players may bet or raise any amount over the minimum amount up to all the chips the player has - which is referred to as an "all-in" bet. If someone re-raises, the value of the re-raise must be equal to the value of the last raise plus the value of the big blind. If a raise or re-raise is "all-in" and does not equal the size of the previous raise, the initial raiser cannot re-raise again.
The dealer burns the top card. This means they put it to one side and it is not used in play. Then three cards are dealt face down in the centre of the poker table. The cards are then turned face up simultaneously; this series of 3 cards is called the flop. These are the first of five community cards that all players can use, along with their pocket cards.
The first player to act after the flop has been dealt is the first player still in to the left of the dealer. They are said to be under the gun. They must make the same decision as they did pre-flop, although they can now also choose to check (neither bet nor fold) where they are still in the game but they simply pass the option to the next player. The betting round only ends when all players have either folded, checked, or called the last bet or raise. Next comes the turn.
The dealer burns another card and then deals a fourth community card - the turn - face up. There is another round of betting, exactly as it happened on the flop, with the first player nearest to the left of the dealer being the first to act. A round of betting occurs until either one player wins the pot or any action has been played out to proceed to the next round, the river.
Once again, the top card is discarded (burnt) and the next card is then dealt to complete the fifth and final of the community cards. This card is called the river, and is the final round of betting. If all but one player folds, then that last player remaining wins the pot. If there is a round of betting, and subsequent calling of the bet or raise take place then we have a showdown. There is also the possibility of the hand being checked down to the showdown.
A showdown occurs when all action has concluded after the river has been dealt. This could comprise of anything from two players to the entire table. The last player to bet then shows his cards first. At any point after this, other players in the showdown may muck their hand, conceding the pot. Mucking a hand is much the same as folding - admitting your hand is not as good as the shown hand - without having to show their cards. The winning player wins all the chips in the pot, other than when the following happens:
If any other player(s) has the same ranked hand (e.g. all have straights), the pot is split between the winning players (chopping the pot).
If the winning player went all-in with less chips than any additional raises or bets. Then the side pot comes into play, and this goes to the player with the next best hand.
This is the basics of Texas Hold'em but as a wise man once said, "Poker takes five minutes to learn but a lifetime to master".
How to play Omaha
Omaha Poker, a derivation of Hold’em, has fast become one of the most popular games in the poker scene. All the betting options and structure mirror Hold’em, so learning this game is fairly quick and easy.
Before diving into this version, it’s best to familiarize yourself Hold’em first. You can do so by clicking here.
As the betting options and structure mirror Hold’em, what’s the derivation? In Omaha, you are dealt four hole cards but, the catch is, you must only use exactly two of them to help form your best five-card hand.
Similar to Hold’em, when playing Omaha you will see five community cards dealt during the round. Of those five cards though, you only use three of them. Those three cards, coupled with the two hole cards you’ve decided to use will form your best 5-card hand.
Still a bit confused? Let’s see how it can play out. In Hold’em you can use one of your hole cards and four of the community cards to make a flush. You can also rely on the 5 community cards to form your best hand. This won’t work in Omaha though, as you must use exactly two hole cards and three community cards to form the best five card hand.
What you could do with remembering is that in Omaha, with four hole cards being dealt to every player, the probability of hitting made hands is increased. For example, there is a higher likelihood of hitting trips or a set in Omaha; it’s also not that unusual to win with a straight. Basically, be mindful of what might be considered a strong hand in Hold’em may be much easier to make (and, therefore, less premium) in Omaha. There’s also a bigger possibility of chopping pots.
Hand rankings in Omaha are identical to Hold’em and can be viewed by clicking here.
There are two popular variations of Omaha.
- No-Limit Omaha means you can bet any amount greater than the big blind – you can even go all-in if you want
- Pot-Limit Omaha is slightly different though, as the bets must be greater than the big blind and equal to or less than the size of the pot
We always encourage beginner players to tackle and learn this game with as little risk as possible. If you would like to learn Omaha as you play, you can create a Play Money account here. Once you’re comfortable, you can try the real money games simply by depositing funds to your account on GreySnowPoker.
Both varieties of Omaha (Pot-Limit and No-Limit) have small and big blinds. If it is your turn to post one of the blinds, it doesn’t matter about the quality of cards you have; the blinds must be paid. When the round is over, the small and big blinds move clockwise to the next players. Once the small and big blinds are posted, the four hole cards are dealt to each player, clockwise. The player with the big blind always takes their turn last, so the player directly to the left of the big blind (the “under-the-gun” position) acts first.
The Flop refers to the first three community cards dealt face up. Once these three are on the tables you can start to figure out which two hole cards can help form the best five-card hand. Starting with the small blind position, players place their bets. Betting will continue to move clockwise until all active layers have placed their bets.
The fourth community card to be dealt face up is called the Turn. Once this is dealt, you will have four community cards; three of which must be used to form your best five-card hand. Starting with the small blind player and moving clockwise, the active players can fold, check, bet, call (if there is already a bet placed), or raise (if there is already a bet placed). When the betting action is complete, the Turn is complete.
This is where an Omaha game can really get interesting. The fifth and final community card dealt face up is called the River. Remember though, while there are five community cards showing, you can only use three of them! This can leave you with a lot of valid options. The betting action doesn’t change – the player to the left of the dealer button (the player with the small blind) will place his or her bet decision. Moving clockwise, all active players will do the same.
Ok, to recap: We have five community cards - the three Flop cards and one each of the Turn and River cards. We also have the four hole cards originally dealt. We must use two hole cards and three community cards only to form the best five-card hand possible. The last player to bet or raise will then reveal their hand first at the Showdown stage. Moving clockwise, all players will show their cards or muck (if they can’t beat any of the revealed hands) until everyone has had their turn.
If no bets were placed on the River, the first player to show their hand will be the one closest to the left of the dealer button and the player with the highest ranked hand will be awarded the pot. Remember though: you must use two hole cards and three community cards – nothing else will be accepted. If it’s a tie, the pot is split between those with the highest point hands. The dealer button will move one spot to the left, blinds are posted, and new hands are dealt and we do it all again.