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How to Play

In hold'em, players receive two down cards as their personal hand (holecards), after which there is a round of betting. Three board cards are turned simultaneously (called the flop) and another round of betting occurs. The next two board cards are turned one at a time, with a round of betting after each card. The board cards are community cards, and a player can use any five-card combination from among the board and personal cards. A player can even use all of the board cards and no personal cards to form a hand ("play the board"). A dealer button is used. The usual structure is to use two blinds, but it is possible to play the game with one blind, multiple blinds, an ante, or combination of blinds plus an ante.

Rounds of Betting

  • Opening deal - Each player is dealt two cards face down, which are known as hole cards or pocket cards.
  • First round of betting - Starting with the player to the left of the big blind, each player can call the big blind, raise, or fold. The big blind has the option to raise an otherwise unraised pot.
  • The flop - The dealer burns a card, and then deals three community cards face up. The first three cards are referred to as the flop, while all of the community cards are collectively called the board.
  • Second round of betting - Starting with the player to the left of the dealer button, each player can check or bet. Once a bet has been made, each player can raise, call, or fold.
  • The turn - The dealer burns another card, and then adds a fourth card face-up to the community cards. This fourth card is known as the turn card, or fourth street.
  • Third round of betting - It follows the same format as the second round, but the size of the bets have usually doubled in limit games.
  • The river - The dealer burns another card, and then adds a fifth and final card to the community cards. This fifth card is known as the river card, or fifth street.
  • Final round of betting - It follows the same format as the second and third rounds.
  • The showdown - Using the best five-card combination of their hole cards and the community cards, the remaining players show their hands, with the bettor or last raiser showing first. The highest five-card hand wins the pot. (In case of a tie, the pot is evenly split among the winning hands.)

Pros & Cons

CONS:

1. No set income: Some months you'll actually experience a loss in total earnings. You must be able to cope with this and still have the confidence you need to win. You'll encounter some horrible runs along the way so be prepared.

2. Exhaustion: You'll constantly be tired if you're playing all day. If you're playing really high limits, you may not have to play all day to make a living. The fact is that most of us will need to grind it out all day to pay rent and bills and buy food.

3. Reduced family time: Since you must make your money playing poker, you'll tend to spend less time with your family. When a good poker player encounters a bad run, he or she will grind it out until they prevail.

This may call for some extremely long hours of play. Be prepared to play poker at any time. On losing months you'll need to spend even more time on the computer or at the casino.

PROS:

1. The first thing you need to play any game for a living is patience. Playing every day, all day, can get extremely tiring.

2. Staring at a computer screen for hours on end can literally drive you insane. In addition, your fortunes online are prone to wild swings. You will occasionally sit down at a table and not get any cards for hours.

3. Be prepared to take the worst beats of your life along with huge runs that will make your bankroll soar.

4. Playing for a living requires extreme mental discipline and a steady game plan. It's a good idea to record how many hours you play each day and what your total profit for the day is.

5. Do this for a month or two before you make the switch to becoming a full-time player. This will allow you to analyze your play and find out how much you make on average.

FAQs

Is poker hard to learn?

No, playing poker is certainly not difficult! You only really need to know the basic rules to start playing and the rules of most variations of the game are pretty simple. Learning how to play well can be more challenging, but you don't necessarily need to worry about that if you're just playing for fun.

Can I win money playing poker?

You can definitely win money by playing poker, and in fact, anyone can win money, even if they're not a particularly experienced or skilled player. You can improve your chances of winning by learning how to play the game better than your opponents, but there's enough luck involved in poker that even a complete beginner has the potential to win.

Why is poker so popular?

Poker is popular for a number of reasons. It's a simple game to learn for starters and many people really enjoy playing it. The possibility of winning money is also very appealing and it's even a game that's suitable for all budgets.

Is poker all about the cards you are dealt?

Not entirely, no. Obviously the cards play a major part in determining who wins and who loses, but there's more to poker than that. The actions of players, including their betting strategies, are also a fundamental part of the game. Good cards will help you win, but skilled players can find ways to win even when they aren't dealt a good hand.

What is poker strategy?

Poker strategy is a very broad subject. It's not something that can easily be explained in just a sentence or two but, in very basic terms, it's about learning how to play the game to it's full potential. Poker is a game based on decisions and poker strategy essentially teaches you how to make the right decisions at the right times.

Are poker winnings taxable?

Poker tax laws vary from one country to the next, so there's no definitive answer to this question. If you start winning significant amounts of money while playing poker, then you should check your local tax laws to see how they apply to you. Alternatively, you could consult with a qualified tax professional and seek their advice if you have even more concerns or questions that you need answered.

What is the best form of poker to play?

There are several different variations of poker and none of them could really be described as the "best." With that being said, it makes a lot of sense for beginners to start with Texas Hold'em. This is the most popular form of the game these days and it's also one of the easiest to learn. Once you are familiar with Texas Hold'em, you can then start learning other forms of poker more easily.

Is it better to play tournaments or cash games?

Tournaments and cash games are two distinct types of poker. They both have their own set of characteristics and come with their own advantages and disadvantages. A lot of players prefer to specialize in one type or the other, but there's no reason why you can't enjoy playing both. You should certainly at least try both styles once, as you may be able to clearly see that you prefer one over the other. However, neither one could definitively be described as better than the other, as it's completely based on a player's preference.

What is the difference between fixed limit and no limit?

Limit and no limit are two different types of betting structures used in poker. There are others as well but these are the two most commonly used. A betting structure basically defines the limits for how much each player can bet when it's their turn to act. In fixed limit, a player can only bet or raise a fixed amount. In no limit, a player can bet or raise any amount providing they have the required chips to do so.