Hold'em is usually played with between two and ten players seated around a table. A hand begins with the dealer shuffling and cutting the cards. He then deals each player one card face down. This deal is carried out in a clockwise direction, beginning with the player to his immediate left. When every player has received their first card, the dealer then issues each player a second card, also face down. These two secret cards (known as hole cards) remain the private property of the respective player for the duration of the hand.

In Hold'em there are four rounds of betting. Once the players have received their two secret hole cards, the first round of betting begins. The action passes in a clockwise direction. Each player must act strictly in turn, making a betting decision according to the strength of their hand.

Once all the players have decided whether or not to remain in the hand, and the betting has been equalised for that round, three more cards are laid out on the table by the dealer. These three cards are known as the flop. They are community cards which are used by everyone. There is now a second round of betting.

After the second round of betting has been completed, a fourth community is dealt. This card is known as the turn. Another round of betting now takes place.