Poker news | Sep 21, 2021
Rules of Texas Hold’em Poker
By RTR Dennis
Driven by the popularity of televised poker, Texas Hold'em, otherwise known as ‘Hold'em’, has become the world’s most popular poker game, both in live casinos and online.
We'll go into further detail below, but the rules, simply put, are:
- Every player is dealt two cards face down, each person should only look at his or her own cards.
- Throughout the game, the dealer lays five cards - three at once, then a 4th, then the 5th and final card - which can be used by all players to make their best possible five-card hand
- Before and after each set of cards is revealed, players take turns to bet. To stay in the hand and see the next card, all players must have put the same amount of chips in the pot as each other.
- The best poker hand wins the pot.
It’s a simple game to learn, yet has the potential to be played with a seemingly infinite variety of strategies, tactics and nuance.
The Rules of Texas Hold’em
Before you begin playing Texas Hold'em Poker, you'll want to learn the rules. In Hold'em, each player is dealt two private cards (known as ‘hole cards’) that belong to them alone. Five community cards are dealt face-up, to form the ‘board’. All players in the game use these shared community cards alongside their own hole cards to each make their best possible five-card poker hand. In Hold'em, a player may use any combination of the seven cards available to make the best possible five-card poker hand, using zero, one or two of their private hole cards. To view the rankings of poker hands, You can check our helpful Poker Hand Ranking Guide.
Hold'em is further sub-divided into four main variations which are distinguished from each other by their betting limits:
- Limit Texas Hold'em: There is a predetermined betting limit on each round of betting.
- No Limit Texas Hold'em: A player can bet any amount, up to all of their chips.
- Pot Limit Texas Hold'em: A player can bet any amount, up to the size of the pot.
- Mixed Texas Hold'em: The game switches between rounds of Limit Texas Hold'em and No Limit Texas Hold'em.
The most common variations you will see played are "Limit" and "No Limit" Poker.
How to Play Texas Hold'em
To learn to play Hold'em using a hands-on method, a lot of online poker rooms offer free poker games. These are often a great way to learn the game without risking losing money. Be aware though, you also won't win any money either. So when you are ready it's time to take off the training wheels and jump into a real money game, probably best to start with a low stakes game though.
However, if you'd rather familiarize yourself with the rules of Hold'em first, then these instructions should help.
In Hold'em, a marker called ‘the button’ or ‘the dealer button’ indicates which player is the nominated dealer for the current game. Before the game begins, the player immediately left of the dealer posts the "Small Blind", the first forced bet. The next player to the left after the small blind posts the "Big Blind", which is typically twice the size of the small blind, but the blinds can vary depending on the stakes and betting structure of the game.
In Limit games, the big blind is the same as the small bet, and the small blind is typically half the size of the big blind but may be larger depending on the stakes. For example, in a $2/$4 Limit game the small blind is $1 and the big blind is $2. In a $15/$30 Limit game, the small blind is $10 and the big blind is $15.
In Pot Limit and No Limit games, the games are referred to by the size of their blinds (for example, a $1/$2 Hold’em game has a small blind of $1 and a big blind of $2).
Depending on the exact structure of the game, each player may also be required to post an ‘ante’ (another type of forced bet, usually smaller than either blind) into the pot.
Now, each player receives his or her two hole cards. Betting action proceeds clockwise around the table, starting with the player ‘under the gun’ (immediately clockwise from the big blind).
Player Betting Options
In Hold'em, as with other forms of poker, the available actions are ‘fold’, ‘check’, ‘bet’, ‘call’ or ‘raise’.
If none of the other players has made a bet yet, then a player may either check, which means that they won't bet but will still keep their cards or they can make an initial bet.
If, however, a previous player has bet, then subsequent players can choose to either fold, call or raise. folding means to relinquish their cards to the dealer and to lose any previous bets they have made into the pot. A call is to exactly match the amount the previous player has bet. To raise is to not only match the previous bet, but to also increase it, there are often rules determining the amount a player can raise by, but this will be made clear before the game starts.
The "Pre-Flop" is the first stage of play, after everyone has received their "hole cards" but before any "community cards" are shown. After seeing his or her cards, each player now has the option to play his or her hand by calling or raising the big blind. The first player to go is to the left of the big blind, this position is also known as "under the gun". That player has the option to fold, call or raise. For example, if the big blind was $2, it would cost $2 to call, or at least $4 to raise. Action then proceeds clockwise around the table. Betting continues on each betting round until all active players (who have not folded) have placed equal bets in the pot.
Note: The betting structure varies with different variations of the game. Explanations of the betting action in Limit Hold'em, No Limit Hold'em, and Pot Limit Hold'em can be found below.
The Flop is the name for the first three community cards that the dealer shows, these are laid in a row, face up. The betting options are similar to pre-flop, however if nobody has previously bet, players may opt to check, passing the action to the next active player clockwise.
When the betting action is completed for the flop round, the ‘turn’ is dealt face-up on the board. The turn is the fourth community card in Hold'em (and is sometimes also called ‘Fourth Street’). Another round of betting ensues, beginning again with the active player immediately clockwise from the button.
The River, also known as "Fifth Street" is the period of play where the 5th and final community card is dealt face-up on the board. Betting again begins with the active player immediately clockwise from the button, and the same betting rules apply as they do for the flop and turn, as explained above.
If more than one player remains after the final betting round is complete, the remaining players expose and compare their hands to determine the winner (or winners). The last person to bet or raise shows their cards, unless there was no bet on the final round in which case the player immediately clockwise from the dealer shows their cards first. The player with the best five-card poker hand wins the pot. In the event of identical hands, the pot will be equally divided between the players with the best hands.
After the pot is awarded, a new hand of Hold'em is ready to be played. The button now moves clockwise to the next player, blinds and antes are once again posted, and new hold cards are dealt to each player.
Limit, No Limit, Pot Limit and Mixed Texas Hold'em
Hold'em rules remain the same for Limit, No Limit and Pot Limit poker games, with a few exceptions:
Limit Texas Hold'em
Betting in Limit Hold'em is in pre-determined, structured amounts. Pre-flop and on the flop, all bets and raises are of the same amount as the big blind. On the turn and the river, the size of all bets and raises doubles. In Limit Hold'em, up to four bets are allowed per player during each betting round. This includes a (1) bet, (2) raise, (3) re-raise, and (4) cap (final raise).
No Limit Texas Hold'em
The minimum bet in No Limit Hold'em is the same amount as the big blind, but players can always bet as much over that minimum as they would like, including up to all of their chips. In No Limit Hold'em, the raise amount must be at least as much as the previous bet or raise in the same round. So, for example, if the first player bets $5 then the second player must raise a minimum of $5 (total bet of $10). As discussed before, there is no maximum bet in No Limit hold'em up to the total value of the players chips. There is also no limit on the amount of raises each player can make during each betting round.
Pot Limit Texas Hold'em
The minimum bet in Pot Limit Hold'em is the same as the size of the big blind. The raise amount must be at least as much as the previous bet or raise in the same round. For example, if the first player to act bets $5 then the second player must raise a minimum of $5 (total bet of $10). The maximum bet in Pot Limit Hold'em is the size of the pot, the pot is defined as the total of the amount already in the active pot plus all bets on the table made during this betting round as well as the amount the active player must first call before raising.
Example: If the size of the pot is $100, and there is no previous action on a particular betting round, a player may bet a maximum of $100. After that bet, the action moves to the next player clockwise. That player can either fold, call $100, or raise any amount between the minimum ($100 more) and the maximum. The maximum bet in this case is $400 - the raiser would first call $100, bringing the pot size to $300, and then raise $300 more, making a total bet of $400. In Pot Limit Hold'em, there is no ‘cap’ on the number of raises allowed.
Mixed Texas Hold'em
In Mixed Hold'em, the game switches between rounds of Limit Hold'em and No Limit Hold'em. The blinds are typically increased when the game switches from No Limit to Limit, to ensure some consistency in the average pot size in each game. The betting rules on each round follow the rules for that game, as described above.