Texas Hold’em Poker, or “Hold’em” as it’s commonly called, is a simple and straightforward game to play. However, with an endless potential of tactics, strategies, and nuances, it’s become the most popular poker game in the world. Poker is played by millions of people online and in live casinos every single day. Of course, the adrenaline-pumping thrill of pushing the pot and going all-in at any given time adds to the game’s excitement as well.
In addition to the pure enjoyment of playing Texas Hold’em Poker. It can also be lucrative for players who put in the time and work. Anyone can get lucky at the tables a time or two, but knowledge and skill trumps luck 99 percent of the time. By learning the game and honing your skills, you can become a long-term winner. In the world’s most popular poker game and laugh all the way to the bank.
New To Texas Hold’em?
If you’re new to Texas Hold’em Poker, it’s easy to be intimidated not only by the stakes but by the strategies and rules of the game. Learning how to play Hold’em involves learning poker rules, the various other poker games, and poker hand rankings.
It also involves knowing the difference between poker tournaments and cash games, which require different strategies in order to achieve consistent success. While Texas Hold’em Poker is a very simple game with rules that only take minutes to learn, mastering it will take commitment and some time at the tables.
Texas Hold’em Poker
The object of Texas Hold’em Poker is quite simple – to beat the other players and win the money sitting in the center of the table, which is called the “pot”. The pot contains all of the bets made by each of the players for a particular hand, including the blinds. The players place bets when they think they have the best hand or a good chance of improving it and taking the pot.
Rules of Texas Hold’em Poker
Before you catch the bug and jump into playing Hold’em, you need to learn the rules of the game. In Texas Hold’em Poker, each player receives two private cards. These are known as the “hole” cards. After these cards have been dealt to each player, a round of betting ensues. Three community cards are then simultaneously turned in the middle of the table, after which another round of betting occurs. Next, the remaining two community cards are turned over one at a time, and a round of betting takes place after each one.
With Texas Hold’em Poker, you can use any three community cards along with your two personal cards to form the best five-card poker hand. You can even use all of the community cards to form a hand if you want, but the other players can do the same, resulting in a scratch. A dealer button is also used, and while Hold’em usually follows a two-blind structure, it can also be played with multiple blinds, a single blind, an ante, or an ante plus blinds.
There are four major Texas Hold’em Poker variations distinguished by their betting limits, including:
No Limit Texas Hold’em – Players can bet as much as they want and go all-in at any time.
Limit Texas Hold’em – Each round of betting has a specific betting limit.
Pot Limit Texas Hold’em – Players can bet as much as they want up to the pot size.
Mixed Texas Hold’em – With each round of betting, the game switched back and forth between Limit and No limit Hold’em.
The Dealer Button – What Is It?
The dealer button is a circular disc that says “Dealer” on it or is labelled with a “D”. It is placed in front of a player signifying him or her as the dealer for a specific hand. The button moves clockwise around the table, allowing each player to be the dealer at some point in time, even if they don’t actually deal the cards. Referred to as “the button,” this poker position is ideal, as it allows the player to bet last after observing everyone else’s betting decisions.
Texas Hold’em Poker Blinds
With Hold’em, the player to the immediate left of the dealer button must make a forced bet called the “small blind.” Meanwhile, the player to the left of the small blind must post the “big blind.” It’s called this because it is usually twice the amount of the small blind. However, depending on the betting structure and the stakes of the game, the blinds may vary.
For instance, in Limit games, the small blind is usually half of the big blind, but the stakes of the game may require it to be larger. The big blind, however, is always the same size as the small bet. So, in a $1/$2 Limit game, the small blind is $.50 and the big blind is $1.
No Limit and Pot Limit Hold’em poker games, on the other hand, are named according to the size of their blinds. For example, a $2/$4 No Limit Hold’em game has a $2 small blind and a $4 big blind.
Some poker rules and game structures also require players to post an ante, which is usually smaller than the small blind and must be added to the pot by each player at the table.
After the small and big blinds are posted, every player at the table receives their two hole cards and betting proceeds around the table clockwise beginning with the player immediately to the left of the big blind.
Texas Hold’em Poker Betting Options
Similar to other types of poker and poker rules, in Texas Hold’em Poker, a player can either bet, raise, call, check, or fold. Exactly which of these actions are available depends entirely on the actions of the previous players. If a player has yet to make a bet, then the only options available are to bet or check. With the latter, a player can decline to bet yet get to keep their cards and stay in the hand. If a player has already bet, then the other players can either call, raise, or fold depending on their cards and poker strategy. A call is when a player matches the previous bet, while a raise increases it.
After receiving and seeing their hole cards, each player can now fold or play their poker hand by calling the big blind or raising it. The player immediately left of the big blind now begins the action by placing a “live” bet and making a call, making a raise, or folding. For example, if it’s a $2/$4 No Limit Texas Hold’em poker game with a $4 big blind, it would cost $4 to call and a minimum of $8 to raise. After making a decision, the action resumes clockwise around the poker table until everyone has made their pre-flop bets.
Just remember, betting structures vary according to the specific Hold’em game being played. We’ll talk more about the betting action of Limit, No Limit, and Pot Limit Texas Hold’em below.
Betting The Flop
When pre-flop betting has finished, three cards are dealt one right after the other face up in the middle of the table. Known as “the flop,” these three cards are community cards for all players to use as needed to form the best poker hand. The first active player to the left of the button begins the betting for the flop round. Similar to the pre-flop, players can call or raise the bet. However, if no one has bet, they can check and pass the action if they wish according to their poker strategy.
Betting The Turn
When everyone is finished betting the flop, the fourth community card known as “the turn” or “fourth street” is dealt. Then, another round of betting takes place, beginning with the first active player to the left of the button.
Betting The River
After the betting action for the turn round finishes, the last community card known as “the river” or “fifth street” is dealt. The same betting rules apply, and the betting once again begins with the first active player to the left of the button.
When the last round of betting ends and there is more than one player remaining, the last person to place their chips into the center of the table is the first to reveal their cards. However, if no one bet during the final round, the most immediate player to the left of the button still in the hand reveals their cards first.
Whoever has the top five-card hand takes the pot. If the same hand is held by two players, which while rare does happen from time to time, then the pot is divided equally amongst the players so long as they have the best hand. In Hold’em, unlike some other forms of poker, all suits are equally weighted.
After the winning player or players collect their chips, the next Hold’em hand can then be played. Continuing clockwise, the button then moves to the player directly to the left, blinds are posted once again, and new hole cards are dealt.
Betting Options for Different Texas Hold’em Poker Games
Hold’em poker rules remain virtually the same for all four varieties of the game. However, there are a few exceptions:
No Limit Hold’em
In No Limit Texas Hold’em, the minimum bet is the same as the amount of the big blind. However, players can bet as much as they want, including all of their chips if they choose.
The minimum raise, on the other hand, must be at least the same amount as the previous raise or bet. For example, if the player to the left of the button bets $4, then the next player must place a minimum raise of $4 for a total bet of $8.
As is the case with bets, there is no maximum raise as players can put their stack on the line and go all in whenever they want. In keeping with its name, with No Limit Hold’em, there is also no limit on how many raises can be made in a round.
In Limit Hold’em, betting takes place in structured, pre-determined amounts. On the flop and pre-flop, each bet and raise are the same as the big blind. However, the size of bets and raises double on both the turn and river.
Unlike No Limit Hold’em, each player is only allowed four bets during each round of betting. In other words, you can bet, raise, re-raise, and raise once more.
Pot Limit Hold’em
In Pot Limit Texas Hold’em, the minimum bet is once again the same size as the big blind. However, as its name suggests, players are able to bet the entire pot size.
Like No Limit Hold’em, raises must be at least the same as the previous raise or bet. For example, if the first player left of the button bets $4, then the next player must place a minimum raise of $4 for a total bet of $8.
Meanwhile, the maximum raise is simply the size of the pot, including all of the bets on the table as well as the amount that must be called by the active player prior to raising.
For example, if the pot is $50 and there hasn’t been any betting action in a particular round, the maximum bet is $50. The next player can then fold, call $50, or raise $50-$200 more. The player would first call $50, to bring the pot size to $150. Then he or she can raise $150 more for a total bet of $200.
Similar to No Limit Hold’em, there is no limit on how many raises can be made.
Mixed Texas Hold’em is a mix of Limit and No Limit Hold’em. The game switches between the two with each round. The blinds usually increase whenever the game changes to Limit from No Limit in order to keep the average pot size for each game somewhat consistent. The betting rules for each round are determined by the rules of the particular game being played that round.
Texas Hold’em Poker Hand Rankings
With the betting rules out of the way, it’s time to move on to poker hand rankings. A standard Texas Hold’em Poker hand is made up of five cards, and each hand is ranked in a specific order. Since higher ranked hands are statistically more difficult to get, the higher your hand ranks, the better.
Here are the poker hand rankings from high to low:
Royal Flush – From poker tournaments to cash games, the Royal Flush is the Holy Grail of poker hands. It consists of five suited cards ace through 10. If more than one player is holding a royal flush, which is highly unlikely, the pot is split and the winnings are evenly shared between the players.
Straight Flush – A straight flush is any consecutive sequence of five suited cards.
Four-of-a-Kind – A four-of-a-kind is four cards with the same rank or value, such as four nines or four Jacks. The suit doesn’t matter.
Full House – A full house is a pair with a three of a kind. Three cards must be of the same rank and two cards must be of the same rank.
Flush – A flush is any five suited cards. The sequence doesn’t matter, just the suit.
Straight – The straight is any five cards in a sequence, regardless of suit.
Three-of-a-Kind – A three-of-a-kind is any three cards with the same value or rank along with two random unrelated cards.
Two Pair – Two pair is having two separate pairs of cards with matching rank, plus another unrelated card. If two players both have two pair, then the highest pair wins. If both players have the same high pair, then the next highest pair wins.
Pair – A pair is any two cards of the same value or rank, plus three unrelated cards. If two players have a pair, which is quite common, then the highest pair wins.
High Card – If you can’t make any of the above hands, then your highest card plays. In Texas Hold’em Poker, it’s extremely rare to win with nothing more than a high card.
It takes five cards to make a poker hand. However, with many types of poker, players can receive more than five cards. In Hold’em for example, two private hole cards are dealt to each player, but they can also use any of the five community cards. So, while each player must select five of their best cards to make a hand, they have seven cards to choose from.
Once again, learning and understanding the poker hand rankings is critical for your poker success. To win at Texas Hold’em Poker or any other poker variation, you need to know which hands are the best, which are the worst, and the rankings of every hand in between. That being said, the importance of experience can’t be stated enough. True knowledge comes from experience and time at the tables, either online or at the casino.
Types of Poker Games
Texas Hold’em Poker is by far the most popular, but there are several other types of poker games to learn and potentially win some chips playing. Plus, learning other games will help you appreciate the nuances of Hold’em and become a better no limit player. Here’s the rundown on each and every type of poker game played today.
Texas Hold’em Poker: By now, you should know quite a bit about Texas Hold’em. This popular poker game is usually played at tables with nine or six players, but some games can have fewer seats for even more nail-biting action.
Omaha: Omaha games are similar to Hold’em in regards to blinds and betting. However, they differ in how many hole cards are dealt to each player.
Omaha Hi/Lo: This Omaha variant is sometimes called Omaha 8. It’s usually played with six or nine players and the blinds and betting are similar to Omaha.
Seven Card Stud: This is a popular game amongst home players. It’s usually played with eight players and involves five betting rounds.
Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo: This is a variant of Seven Card Stud. While there are slight differences between the two, the ante and betting is exactly the same.
Razz: Perfect for players on a bad streak, Razz is pretty much the opposite of other poker games. Rather than trying to make the best high hand, the goal of Razz is to make the best low hand. Fun in nature, it can be played with as few as two players and as many as eight.
Draw Poker: With draw poker, players can replace one or all of their cards with new ones from the deck. The four types of draw poker include: Badugi, 2-7 Single Draw, 2-7 Triple Draw, and last but not least 5 Card Draw.
Poker Tournaments vs Cash Play – What’s the Difference?
Often involve multiple tables.
Equal buy-in and beginning chip count.
Winner takes all.
You Must play until all chips are lost.
Pay is based on tournament position.
Blinds go up with every round of play.
No re-buys – when you’re done, you’re done.
(If it’s a re-buy type tournament, usually the first few rounds you can re-buy and get same amount of starting chips)
Involve a single table
Money is exchanged for chips
Maximum and minimum buy-in amounts
Can quit at any time and exchange chips for cash
Blinds remain the same according to the game’s stakes
Can always buy more chips and keep playing
Summing It Up
Whether you’re playing NL Texas Hold’em Poker or Omaha Hi/Lo, poker is a challenging game that will certainly test your mental acuity. It will also supply plenty of adrenaline rushes and, when played well, provide you with job-quitting wealth. Not a bad bunch of rewards, right?
For many players, poker has been life-changing. I encourage you to become one of them by fully embracing the poker experience and continuing to learn the game so many love. Poker is a journey, not a destination. Keep learning and enjoy the ride! See you at the WSOP!
Texas Hold’em Poker – FAQ
How do you play Texas Hold’em poker?
You get two hole cards and there are five community cards. You make your best hand possible using five of the seven cards available.
Is poker and Texas Hold’em the same thing?
Texas Hold’em is a variation of poker. There are many other variations of poker including: Seven Card Stud, Omaha, Pineapple, Razz, plus many more…
Why is it called Texas Hold’em?
The game originated in Robstown, Texas, and with four rounds of betting, you need to know when to hold’em or fold’em in each round. The game didn’t take off until it hit the Las Vegas scene.
How do you get good at Texas Hold’em poker?
You get good at poker by studying, playing more, and learning to fold’em more often. I would also recommend playing at high levels for training purposes (practice, practice, practice), then moving down to dominate.