How To Play Hold’em

 This section is for those who have not played hold’em before.  It describes how to play a hand.

The Deal

 Years ago players in all games dealt for themselves.  The deal rotated clockwise (one position to the left) after each hand.  Nowadays, most cardrooms have house dealers who deal all the cards, maintain table decorum, ensure the pots and betteing are correct, see that players act in turn, and award pots to the winning players.  The position from which the dealer would distribute cards if the dealer were one of the players is indicated by a dealer button.  Most players call it simply the button.  The button is often a white disk approximately the size of hockey puck, sometimes labeled “button.”  From now on, when we speak of the button, we will be referring either to that disk or to the player who sits in that position.  You’ll be able to tell by context what we mean.

  When the house distributes cards to the players, he always starts with the player in the seat to the left of the button and ends with the button.
  All online cardrooms use a button, and it is a graphical representation of the preceding.

Antes and Blinds

 Also in those old days, back when the main game in cardrooms was five-card draw, players put antes into each pot.  An ante is a payment made by each player to the pot prior to receiving cards.  An ante is not a bet because it does not  “play for” the player.  The purpose of the antes is to stimulate action.  Without money in the pot, the first player would never have an incentive to open the betting because there would be nothing to win.
  Antes are still used in forms of seven-card stud and they also appear in the later stages of no-limit hold’em tournaments.  Generally, though, hold’em type games use blinds.  Blinds serve the same purpose as antes, to stimulate action.  Unlike an ante, however, a blind is considered to be a bet made before the cards are dealt, and it “plays for” the player.  That is, an amount equal to the size of the blind is part of a player’s bet later on.
  Usually, the player to the immediate left of the button puts chips into the pot equal to half the size of the lower limit of the game.  Those chips (and the player who puts the chips in ) are called the small blind.  The next player to the left, that is, the player two positions to the left of the button, puts chips into the pot equal to size of the limit of the game.  Those chips (and the player who puts the chips in) are called the big blind.  For example, if the stakes are $ 4-$ 8 – this would be called a $ 4-$ 8 limit game – the small blind is $ 2 and the big blind is $ 4.