Poker news | Mar 30, 2023
Rules of Texas Hold'em
By RTR Alex
What is Texas Hold'em?
Texas Hold'em is a popular form of poker that is played with a standard deck of 52 cards. The game can be played with as few as two players, but typically involves between six and ten players.
In Texas Hold'em, each player is dealt two private cards known as "hole cards". Five community cards are then dealt face up in the centre of the table, which are used by all players to make the best possible poker hand.
Learning how to play Texas hold'em poker is a straightforward process. The game's rules, gameplay, and hand rankings are all easy to understand, which contributes to its widespread popularity.
However, it's important not to be deceived by the game's apparent simplicity. With an enormous number of possible situations and combinations, Texas hold'em can become an incredibly complex game, especially when playing at higher levels.
If you're a beginner to the game, it's crucial to start by learning the basic rules. Not only are these rules the easiest to grasp, but they're also crucial for understanding the gameplay and, later on, developing basic strategies for the game.
Texas Hold'em Rules
So, what is Texas Hold'em and how do you play it?
The game's objective is to use your two hole cards in conjunction with the five community cards to create the best possible five-card poker hand. While Texas Hold'em is similar to other poker games, such as five-card draw, the way players construct their hands in Texas Hold'em is slightly different.
To start a game, players are dealt two cards face down then five more cards are dealt face up in the middle of the table as betting rounds ensue between each card reveal. These five cards are called the community cards, and each player will use them along with with their hole cards to build a five-card poker hand.
The community cards are dealt in three separate stages:
The Flop (the first three community cards),
The Turn (the fourth community card),
The River (the fifth and final community card).
If the betting causes all but one player to fold, the remaining player wins the pot without having to show their cards. This means players don't always need to hold the best hand to win the pot.
Players can also do whatever it takes to make the best five-card hand. It's always possible for a player to bluff and get others to fold better hands.
If two or more players make it to the showdown after the final community card is dealt, the only way to win the pot is by having the highest-ranking five-card poker hand.
Now that you know the objective of Texas Hold'em poker and the basic poker rules, let's run through the hand rankings.
Royal Flush - This is the highest-ranking hand in Texas Hold'em, and it consists of a 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace of the same suit.
Straight Flush - This hand consists of any five cards of the same suit in sequence.
Four of a Kind - This hand consists of four cards of the same rank, such as four Aces.
Full House - A Full House contains three cards of the same rank and two cards of another rank.
Flush - This hand contains any five cards of the same suit, but not in sequence.
Straight - This hand contains five cards of sequential rank, but not all of the same suit.
Three of a Kind - This hand contains three cards of the same rank, such as three Kings.
Two Pair - This hand contains two cards of the same rank, plus another two cards of the same rank.
One Pair - This hand contains two cards of the same rank, such as two Jacks.
High Card - If none of the above hands are made, then the highest card in the player's hand is used to determine the winner.
Texas Hold'em follows the traditional poker rankings of individual cards with ace high and 2 low.
How to Play Texas Hold'em
There's a lot going on with each hand of poker, especially when it comes to player betting and much of the lingo surrounding the game.
So let's break down how a hand of poker is played.
The game of poker follows a clockwise rotation around the table, beginning with the player to the left of the dealer button
The button is a small round disc that is used to indicate which player is in the dealer position in recreational games. In casino and tournament settings, such as the World Series of Poker, there is a designated dealer who does not act as a player simultaneously. In this scenario, the button position moves clockwise by one position after every hand.
The button position is important because it determines the order of play for each betting round.
At the beginning of each hand, the button is placed in front of the player who is designated as the dealer for that particular hand. The position of the button rotates clockwise around the table after each hand, so that each player gets a turn to act last in later betting rounds.
The player to the immediate left of the button is referred to as the "small blind," and the player to the left of the small blind is referred to as the "big blind." These two players are required to post a mandatory bet before the cards are dealt, which helps to create a pot for players to win.
The button also determines which players are required to act first and last during each betting round. In the first round of betting, the player to the left of the big blind is the first to act. In subsequent betting rounds, the player who has the button is the last to act, which gives them a strategic advantage.
Additionally, the dealer button determines the starting point for dealing the cards, beginning with the player to the immediate left of the button in the small blind and proceeding clockwise until each player has received their two starting cards.
In Texas Hold'em poker, the small blind and big blind are forced bets that are placed by two players to the left of the dealer. These bets ensure that there is always some money in the pot to play for, even if all the other players fold their hands.
The small blind is typically half the size of the big blind, and is placed by the player to the left of the dealer. The big blind is placed by the player to the left of the small blind, and is typically equal to the minimum bet for the game.
For instance, in a Texas hold'em game with a "$5/$10" betting structure, the small blind would be $5 and the big blind would be $10.
The small blind and big blind are important parts of Texas Hold'em poker, as they create an initial pot for players to compete for and also help to ensure that there is action in every hand.
In tournaments, the blind amounts tend to increase as the game continues (especially if there haven't been any knockouts in a while) to ensure that players continue to remain invested.
Once the blinds have been added to the pot, the 2 hole cards are dealt.
First Betting Round: Preflop
The first round of betting occurs after each player has been dealt two hole cards face down and before any community cards (cards that all players can use) have been dealt.
The player seated to the left of the big blind starts the first round of betting. This player can either:
- fold (give up their hand and exit the game)
- call (match the amount of the big blind)
- or raise (increase the bet)
The betting then proceeds clockwise around the table, with each player having the option to fold, call, or raise based on the amount of the previous bet. The first round of betting is complete when all players have had a chance to act, and all bets have been equalized.
The amount by which a player can raise the bet depends on the specific game being played - fixed-limit, pot limit and no limit.
For instance, in a game of no-limit Texas hold'em, the opening raise must be a minimum of twice the big blind, and the maximum raise is the entirety of the player's chip stack (equal to an "all-in" bet).
In fixed-limit hold'em, a raise is always twice the big blind, while in pot-limit hold'em, players can wager anywhere from the amount of the big blind (minimum bet allowed) to the current pot's total.
Subsequently, play proceeds around the table in a clockwise direction, with each player having the same options as the initial player ('under the gun') - to call, raise or fold. Once the last bet is called and the action is 'closed,' the preflop round concludes, and play proceeds to the next phase, known as the "flop."
Once the first round of betting is complete, the dealer will reveal the first three community cards (known as the "flop"), and a second round of betting will begin.
Second Betting Round: The Flop
In Texas Hold'em poker, the second round of betting is called the "flop." It happens after the first three community cards are dealt face up on the table.
Once the flop is revealed, each player has a better idea of their hand's potential, based on the two cards they hold and the three community cards. The second round of betting starts with the first active player to the left of the dealer, who can choose to "check" (not bet anything), "bet" (place a wager), or "fold" (give up their hand and exit the round).
After the first player acts, the action moves clockwise around the table. Each player has the option to "call" (match the previous bet), "raise" (increase the previous bet), or "fold" (give up their hand and exit the round).
The second round of betting ends when all players have either called the highest bet or folded their hands. Then, the dealer reveals the fourth community card (the "turn"), and a third round of betting begins.
Third Betting Round: The Turn
In Texas Hold'em poker, the third round of betting is also known as the "turn".
After the first round of betting (pre-flop) and the second round of betting (flop), the dealer deals one more community card face up on the table. This card is called the turn or fourth street.
Once the turn card is revealed, the third round of betting begins. Starting with the first active player to the left of the dealer, each player has the option to check (if no bets have been made), bet (if no one has bet yet), call (if someone has bet), raise (if someone has bet and you want to increase the amount), or fold (if you don't want to continue playing).
The minimum amount of the bet or raise is typically equal to the size of the big blind in the pre-flop round.
After the third round of betting is completed, the final community card is dealt face up on the table. This is known as the river or fifth street, and is followed by the final round of betting.
Final Betting Round: The River
In Texas Hold'em poker, the final round of betting is also known as the "river" or "fifth street". This is the last betting round that takes place after the fifth community card has been dealt face up on the table.
At this point, each player still in the hand has two private cards and five community cards to make their best five-card hand.
The final round of betting follows the same format as the previous rounds, with players having the option to check, bet, call, raise or fold depending on the actions of the previous players.
It's worth noting that in some variations of Texas Hold'em, such as no-limit hold'em, players can go "all-in" at any point in the hand, including during the final betting round. This means that a player can bet all their remaining chips and potentially win a much larger pot if they have a strong hand.
After all bets have been placed, the remaining players reveal their hole cards.
The dealer then helps determine the winning hand based on official poker hand rankings, and the player with the best combination of five cards takes the pot.
Texas Hold'em is a thrilling game of poker that can be enjoyed by players of all skill levels. By following the rules and strategies outlined in this guide, you'll be well on your way to becoming a successful Texas Hold'em player. So, ante up and let the games begin!