Mandatory Bets

Poker games typically feature mandatory bets, such as the Big Blind and the Small Blind in Hold’em and Omaha or the Antes in Tournaments. These mandatory bets form the starting pot in any given hand of Poker, which is the first incentive players have to win the hand. Bets made in subsequent rounds of betting further increase the size of the pot.

The blinds must be placed by the two players sitting directly to the dealer's left before any cards are dealt. The player sitting directly to the dealer’s left must place the small blind and the player to his left must place the big blind.

Dealing Cards and Betting Rounds

After any initial cards are dealt, players are usually called upon to act in turn, moving clockwise around the table.

Each player can usually take one of the following actions when it is their turn to act:

  • Check – To check is to decline the opportunity to open the betting. Players can only check when there is no bet during the current round, and the act of checking passes the action clockwise to the next person in the hand. If all active players check, those players remain in the hand and the round is considered complete.
  • Bet – Players may bet if no other players have bet during the current round. Once a bet has been made, other players must ‘call’ by matching the bet amount or “raise” to increase the size of the pot, in order to remain in the hand.
  • Fold – Players who fold forfeit their cards and cannot win or act again during the current hand.
  • Call – Players can call if other players have bet during the current round; this requires the calling player to match the highest bet made so far.
  • Raise – Players may raise if other players have bet during the current round; this requires the raising player to match the highest bet made, and then make a greater one. All subsequent players are required to call the raise or raise again (‘re-raise’) to stay in the hand.

Texas Hold’em and Omaha are the two most popular Poker games in the world and have identical betting structures, with four rounds of betting known as pre-flop, the flop, the turn and the river.


The pre-flop betting round begins as soon as all players have received their hole cards and before any community cards have been dealt; betting on the flop occurs after the first three community cards are dealt; on the turn after the fourth community card is dealt; and on the river after the fifth and final community card is dealt.


On each betting round, betting continues until every player has either matched the bets made or folded (if no bets are made, the round is complete when every player has checked). When the betting round is completed, the next dealing/betting round begins, or the hand is complete.


Here’s an example of a Texas Hold’em hand after all the cards have been dealt. As you can see, players may use any of their two hole cards with any of the five community cards to make the best five-card hand they can make - in this case, the player will use both his hole cards and three of the shared community cards to make a straight from 9 to King.

  1. Your opponents’ hole cards
  2. Community Cards
  3. Your hole cards


Once the last bet or raise has been called during the final round of betting, a showdown occurs; the remaining active players must show or ‘declare’ their hands, and the player(s) with the best ranking hand(s) win the pot.

Players then show their hands in order, rather than all at the same time. Multiple players can share a single pot, with the pot divided in different ways depending on how each player’s hand ranks against their opponents.

Betting Limits 

Betting limits refer to the maximum amount players can bet or raise. There are three types of betting limits on any Poker game: No Limit, Pot Limit or Fixed Limit.

No Limit – in Poker games with a no limit betting structure, each player can bet or raise by any amount up to and including their full stack (the total number of chips they possess at any given time) in any betting round, whenever it is their turn to act.

Pot Limit – in Poker games with a pot limit betting structure, each player can bet or raise by any amount up to and including the size of the total pot at that time.

Fixed Limit – in Poker games with a fixed limit betting structure, each player can choose to call, bet or raise, but only by a fixed amount. The fixed amount for any given betting round is set in advance.

Side Pots and All-in

Players can only use the chips they had at the beginning of each hand.  If a player does not have enough chips to call a bet, he is declared All-In. The player is eligible for the portion of the pot up to the point of his final wager. All further action involving other players takes place in a ‘side pot’, which the All-In player is not eligible to win. If more than one player goes All-In during a hand, there could be more than one side pot.

How do you win?

The winner of each hand of Poker is the player that holds the highest ranked hand when all cards are shown at the end of the hand – known as the ‘showdown’ – or the player that makes the last uncalled bet, thus winning without showing his hand.

Check Poker Hand Rankings here