One of the reasons that Texas Hold’em became the most popular form of poker is that the rules are relatively easy to understand. You really just need to learn the hand rankings and understand how the betting works, which doesn’t take long at all. You’ll probably need to play a few times before the rules become second nature to you, but they are certainly not to complicated to understand.
In fact, you could probably pick the rules up easily enough just by playing for a while. However, as they don’t take long to learn it’s better to understand them before actually sitting down to play. We’ve provided a simple guide to Texas Hold’em rules on this page. If you’ve never played the game before, then you really should take a few minutes to read through this information.
For more information on Texas Hold’em, including a list of the best poker sites for playing the game online, please see the following page – Texas Hold’em Guide.
Aim of the Game
In each hand of Texas Hold’em any chips that are bet by players are placed into a pot. The objective is to try and win the pot and all the chips in it by either having the best hand once all the betting is complete or by making all of your opponents fold through the bets you make. If two or more players have hands of equal value (that are higher than all opposing player), then the pot is split and the chips are shared equally between those players.
A hand of Texas Hold’em starts with the player to the left of the dealer making an enforced bet known as the small blind, and the player to their left making an enforced bet known as the big blind. The big blind is twice the size of the small blind and the exact size of these bets is pre-determined before a game starts.
In each hand, one player must be the nominated dealer, even if the players themselves aren’t actually dealing the cards (for example, if you’re playing in a casino or at an online poker site). This ensures that all players take turns in paying the blinds. Typically a button will be placed in front of whichever player is the dealer for the purposes of identification. This button then moves one space to the left at the end of each hand.
At the start of a hand, players are dealt two cards each, face down one at a time, moving around the table in a clockwise direction. Players may look at their own two cards (these are known as hole cards) and a round of betting follows. We’ll explain more about the betting later.
After the first round of betting is complete, three cards are dealt face up to the table. These are known as the community cards as they can be used by any of the players. A total of five community cards are dealt in Texas Hold’em and each player can use any combination of these five cards and their two hole cards to make a five card poker hand.
The first three community cards dealt are known as the flop. A second round of betting takes place once the flop has been dealt. A fourth community card, the turn, is then dealt and a third round of betting takes place. The fifth and final community card is then dealt. This is known as the river and is followed by a fourth and final round of betting. Hands are compared and the player with the best hand wins.
A hand can come to an early end on any of the betting rounds if all but one of the players fold their hands. The remaining player who didn’t fold wins.
The following table shows the ranking of hands in Texas Hold’em, starting with the strongest hand. You must learn these rankings, as they’re obviously an integral part of the game.
Betting in Texas Hold’em
There are up to four betting rounds in each Texas Hold’em hand. As we mentioned earlier, if all but one of the players fold on any of the betting rounds, then the hand comes to an early end. The four betting rounds are as follows.
- Pre Flop. This takes place after each player has been dealt their two cards.
- Flop. This takes place after the first three community cards have been dealt.
- Turn. This takes place after the fourth community card has been dealt.
- River. This takes places after the fifth community card has been dealt.
We’ll explain the process in these betting rounds shortly. First, you need to understand the different actions that you can make during all of them. These are as follows.
- Fold. This is discarding your hand, meaning you play no further part in the current pot.
- Bet. Also known as opening, this is making a bet when no other player has made one during the current betting round.
- Raise. This is increasing the size of a bet previously made by another player during the current betting round.
- Call. This is matching the size of any bet or raise made by another player during the current betting round.
- Check. You can only check if no other player has made a bet on the current betting round. When you check it means you stay in the hand, but don’t make a bet.
This round starts with the player to the left of the big blind. The options are to fold, call, or raise. It’s not possible to make an opening bet, as that has effectively already been made by the big blind. It’s also not possible to check, as a player must at least match the forced bet of the big blind to stay in the hand.
Play moves around the table in a clockwise direction, with each player having the same options. Once all the players have matched the big blind (or any raises if they have been made) or folded, the round is over. If only one player remains, they win the pot.
This round starts with the player to the left of the dealer (ignoring any players that have already folded). There are no blinds placed on this round, so the first player to act can fold, bet, call, or check. Play again moves around the table in a clockwise direction. All players have the same options, with the additional option of raising once a bet has been made. The round finishes in the same way as the pre-flop round.
This follows exactly the same process as the previous round.
This also follows the same process as the previous round, with one exception. If more than one player remains once the betting is complete, the players compare their hands to see who has the best one. This is known as the showdown and the player with the highest value hand wins the pot. As mentioned before, if more than one player ties for the highest value hand, then they share the pot equally.