How to Play Texas Hold’em

In the early twentieth century, a new variation of poker known as Hold’em was born in Robstown, Texas. This new poker variation called for its players to share five common cards and combine them with two private hole cards to make the best possible 5-card hand. Some of the earliest players called Hold’em a “thinking man’s game” because this new way of playing allowed poker players to take control of their own fates and utilize a wide variety of strategies.

Texas Hold’em quickly spread throughout Texas and in 1967 it became accepted in some Las Vegas casinos. For decades, Texas Hold’em was popular among professional poker players, but it remained relatively unknown to the general public. It would take three more decades before Texas Hold’em could finally exploded into the mainstream culture and become one of the most popular poker games in the world. Texas Holdem poker sites are the most common form of poker played online.

Rules for Playing Texas Hold’em

Texas Hold’em typically accommodates up to 9-10 players, but as few as two can play the game at a time. There is a dealer chip, known as the ‘button’, that is passed clockwise after each round to designate player position for the blinds or antes. Typically the player sitting to the left of the dealer chip pays the ‘small blind’ and the player sitting to their left pays the ‘big blind’. The big blind is generally twice the size of the small blind. Once both blinds have been posted, every player is dealt two cards, face down (known as ‘hole cards’), and the game begins.

After all of the hole cards have been dealt, the player to the left of the big blind can start the initial, ‘pre-flop’ round of betting. These first bets must be at least the size of the table’s minimum bet and the betting continues clockwise until each player has either:

  • Bet as much as every other player by ‘calling’ bets and raises.
  • Bet their entire bankroll.
  • Folded their cards and withdrawn from the hand.

The two players who posted blinds can apply the value of these blinds towards their pre-flop bets. Assuming there are still two or more players remaining in the game after the pre-flop round of betting, the dealer will proceed to burn the card on the top of the deck (remove it from play) and deal the first three community cards, face up, in the center of the table. These first three cards are known as the ‘flop’ and are part of every player’s hand. After the flop is dealt, the second round of betting takes place.

This pattern of burning a card, dealing to the community hand, and completing a round of betting continues throughout the game. After the flop, the ‘turn’ card (fourth community card) is dealt, and finally the ‘river’ (fifth and final community card) is dealt; in total there are four rounds of betting. After the final round of betting, if more than one player is still in the game, all players must flip their hole cards and the player with the best five card hand is awarded the pot. If two or more players have equally valued hands, then they split the pot evenly.

Going All-In in Texas Holdem No Limit

If you don’t have enough money to call a previous bet or if you want to put your full bankroll on the table in the form of a raise, you can choose to go ‘all-in’. When you go all-in, you can remain in the round without having to make any further wagers. Often tournaments require any player who goes all-in to flip their hole cards face up, though cash games generally do not have this rule.

After you go all in, any further bets placed by your opponents are placed in a side pot. Only players who contribute to the side pot are eligible to win these funds. If you win a hand after going all in, players who wagered more money than you, in the form of a side pot, get the difference returned to them.

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Poker Hand Rankings

To play Texas Hold’em properly you need to know the different possible hands, and their rankings. Here they all are from most valuable, to least valuable.

The Royal Flush An ace-high straight of one suit.
Example: Ahearts Khearts Qhearts Jhearts Thearts
Straight Flush – A straight of one suit.
Example: 8spades 7spades 6spades 5spades 4spades
Four of a Kind – Four equal cards.
Example: Jspades Jhearts Jdiamonds Jclubs Aspades
Full House – A hand with three of a kind and a pair.
Example: Jdiamonds Jhearts Jclubs Adiamonds Aspades
Flush – Five cards of the same suit.
Example: 5spades 9spades Jspades 4spades Aspades
Straight – Five sequential cards.
Example: 6hearts 5spades 4diamonds 3diamonds 2spades
Three of a Kind – Three equally ranked cards.
Example: Jspades Jclubs Jhearts 5clubs Qspades
Two Pair – Two equal cards of one rank, and two equal cards of a different rank.
Example: Qhearts Qclubs 8hearts 8diamonds 6clubs
Pair – Two equally valued cards.
Example:Adiamonds Aclubs Qspades 6clubs 2diamonds
High Card –  When you do not have any of the above hands, your hand is designated by its most valuable card.
Example: 3clubs 6spades 5hearts Qdiamonds 8spades In this case you would have ‘Queen High’.

In any situation, a higher valued set of cards is better than a lower valued set of cards. For instance a straight from containing 3clubs 4spades 5hearts 6clubs7diamonds will loose to a straight containing 5clubs 6hearts 7clubs 8clubs 9hearts. Also Hold’em rules allow for an Ace to be either the highest card in the deck or the lowest card in the deck when constructing straights (Adiamonds 2hearts 3clubs 4diamonds 5spades and Thearts Jhearts Qspades Kclubs Adiamonds are both straight combinations).

Limit Texas Hold’em

The most popular kind of Hold’em has table limits. These Limit Texas Hold’em games are favored in most casinos but also in most private games. These limits are stated in two numbers, for instance $2/$4. The first number designates the betting limits for the first two round of betting (pre-flop and flop), and the second number designates the limits for the final two rounds of betting (turn and river).

If you are playing at a $2/$4 limit table then the small blind is $1 and the big blind is $2. On the pre-flop bet, the first player can simply choose to call the big blind by posting a $2 bet, or they can call the $2 blind and raise it an additional $2 by posting a $4 bet. Each player can only raise by $2 in the first two rounds of betting, and $4 in the final two rounds. To protect against very large bets, typically only three or four raises after the initial bet are allowed in each round.

Limit Hold’em is the perfect place to start playing poker and it gives you a chance to learn the game without the fear of losing your bankroll to quickly. The same skills you learn here can eventually be applied to other forms of poker, particularly No Limit Hold’em.

Pot Limit Texas Hold’em

Pot Limit Hold’em allows for the betting limits in a Texas Hold’em game to progress naturally. Table minimums and blinds still apply, but the maximum bet allowed is equal to the size of the pot. The pot is calculated by totaling all bets in previous rounds, all bets placed in the current round, and even the money used by the active player to call the previous bet. Players can request a pot count from the dealer at any time in order to know the maximum amount they may bet. As the pot increases, the maximum bet size increases as well, but the minimum bet remains constant. Unlike Limit Texas Hold’em, players can re-raise up to the pot limit until they are all-in or until all but one player has folded.

No Limit Texas Hold’em

No limit Texas Hold’em Poker is considered one of the purest forms of the game. The size of the blinds in a No Limit game are stated in the name. A $2/$4 no limit game’s small blind is worth $2 while its big blind is worth $4. In No Limit Hold’em, your bet sizes in any given betting round, can be worth as little as the table minimum or you can push your entire bankroll and go all-in. This flexibility can lead to volatile play, which may be intimidating for new players, but it does offer the most exciting experience in the world of poker. To win at the No Limit tables you need to be tight and aggressive, and you cannot afford to make any errors. Tournaments are the most common places to see No Limit Texas Hold’em rules.

The most successful No Limit Texas Hold’em players usually started by playing traditional Limit Hold’em and learned how to quickly make smart decisions. Remember, with the potential for such large bets, No Limit Texas Hold’em is able to punish its players for even the smallest of mistakes. Also, bluffing can play a major roll in No Limit games. To combat the big bluffs, you need to be able to ‘read’ your opposition. In fact, many No Limit Texas Hold’em gurus advise you to “play the man, not the cards”.