Two to ten players are arranged around a table. A button is assigned to the dealer – which can be virtual if table has a croupier. The game is played clockwise starting from the dealer.
In position “late” are the “dealer”, which is the last to speak, and the cut off is the penultimate talking. These are the two positions where the raises are quite common because they have the advantage of position, that is to say, because they speak last.
A poker hand always consists of five cards exactly. Depending on the variants, the strongest hand wins (variants played high) or the lowest hand (variants played low) or the highest hand and the lowest hand is taken into account (variants played high/low).
Before receiving their cards, players must place the blinds that are of three kinds: antes, blinds and bring-in. Can be used the three kinds in the same game.
In tournaments, the blinds go up in steps (or levels) for three to twenty minutes or more. The increase in value may vary from a quarter to a third of the value of the last blind. A table announces the different levels before the start of each tournament.
The ante (from the Latin avant) is a forced bet placed by each player at the table. It does not change the playing order. In general it is a setting of 10% to 20% of the big blind. The introduction of antes after a few blind levels, often gives a great boost to attempts to “steal” the blinds during the auction.
The blinds are placed by the two players to the left of the dealer, the first placing the small blind and the second asking the big blind worth double the small blind. The blinds allow to speak last in the first round of betting. If no one has raised before it, the player in the big blind still has the right to raise.
The player to the left of the big blind is called “UTG player” (under the gun), because has to talk first, so he is in a less favorable position for the rest of the round. Some variants allow the “option” for the “UTG player” to bet double the big blind before receiving his cards and speak last in the first round of betting.
The big blind also represents the minimum raise that players can ask at the auction that follow.
The bring-in is a forced bet used in the type of variations called studs that must be asked by a player under certain conditions (usually the one with the lowest upcard).
Auctions determine how each player in turn is allowed to bet any or all of his chips.
The basic principle is that a player must “call” the same amount as last raiser to stay in the game. If he does not, he “passes” losing its previous updates and ambitions on the current pot; he will remain passive until the liquidation of the latter.
If no player has bet before him (in the first round of betting, the big blind must be taken into account), it can do “check“, that is to say, waiting for a possible revival of another player to bet himself. If all players check or call the last raise the betting round ends.
A player can also “raise” that is to say, bet more on the spot. A raise must be at least the amount of the big blind and at least the amount of the highest recovery of the current betting round if necessary. A player who raise can not raise his own bet in the absence of a raise of another player.
If a player does not have enough chips to call, it can still stay in the game going “all-in“, that is to say all he has left. The potential gains are then limited by considering (to himself) that other players do not bet more than him. The excess of the other players then constitutes a secondary pot that they can continue to compete under the same conditions.
The betting round ends when all players who could speak (that is, those that have not already passed or have not already staked their carpets) did and bet the same amount .