How to Play Texas Hold'em 101

Unlike many other versions of poker, victory in a Texas Hold’em game is linked to strategy, not pure luck. Many would call it a “thinking person’s” card game. That’s because the eventual winner isn’t always the person with the best hand. On the contrary, it’s the player who can execute their strategy the best.

For that reason, Texas Hold’em is one of the most popular betting games online, in Las Vegas, and indeed, in Texas. If you’re ready to start your journey to becoming a Texas Hold'em wizard, we’re here to help.

By the time you finish reading this guide, you will be on your way to winning hands and perhaps, eventually, a trip to the World Series of Poker. In this article, you will learn: - The object of Texas Hold’em - How to deal a Texas Hold’em hand - How to understand your poker hand - Step-by-step instructions for playing Texas Hold'em - How and Where to get started playing Texas Hold’em online

Continue reading to learn more.

The Object of Texas Hold’em

The goal of Texas Hold’em is to make the best decisions with your poker hand and to place bets to gain the most chips throughout the game. Generally, players make bets before and after cards are revealed.

Players who want to “stay in” to see the following cards must put the same number of chips in the pot as the other players. When all cards are revealed, whoever has the best hand wins. Players can also win a hand if all remaining players “fold” before the cards are shown.

Understanding Your Poker Hand

Before you engage in Hold'em gameplay, you should know the basic rules and card rankings of poker hands. Below is a list of poker hand rankings from least powerful to most powerful.

  • High card - This is when multiple players have no pairs, the hand's winner is the active player with the highest card in their hand.
  • One pair - This is when the player has a single pair of matching cards (cards of the same rank), with the other cards holding different ranks (i.e., 4, 4, 2, J, A). Two pair - This is when a player has a pair of one rank + a pair of another rank + one additional card (i.e., 5, 5, J, J, 2).
  • Three of a kind - This hand is when a player has three cards of the same rank + two additional cards of different rank (i.e., 9, 9, 9, 2, J).
  • Straight - This hand means a player has five cards in sequential order but from different suits (i.e., 5 of spades, 6 of hearts, 7 of clubs, 8 of diamonds, 9 of spades).
  • Flush - A flush is five cards from the same suit, but with different ranks (i.e., 2, 7, 8, J, K of hearts).
  • Full House - This hand occurs with three matching cards of one rank + two matching cards of another (i.e., 7, 7, 7, J, J).
  • Four of a kind - This is the third most powerful hand in Texas Hold’em. It’s composed of four cards of the same rank (i.e., K, K, K, K) and a single card of a different rank.
  • Straight flush - A straight flush is the second most powerful hand in a Hold'em game that's played without wild cards. It requires five cards from the same suit in order (i.e., 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 of diamonds).
  • Royal flush - A royal flush is the best possible straight flush in Texas Hold'em (without wild cards). It consists of a 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace of the same suit and is unbeatable.
  • Five of a kind - This hand is only possible when playing a game that includes wild cards like a Joker. It requires cards from the same rank + additional wild cards (i.e., Q, Q, Q, Q + wildcard OR 5, 5, 5 + wildcard + wildcard).

How Do You Play Texas Holdem Step by Step?

Now that you have a basic knowledge of Texas Hold’em, it’s time to learn how to play the game. If you’re playing with friends or in an unregulated Hold'em tournament, a marker, known as “the dealer button,” is used to indicate which player deals the hand for the current game.

The role of the dealer, the big blind, and the small blind rotate clockwise after each hand. Continue reading to learn how to play Texas Hold'em games.

The Ante

The ante is typically a small amount of money or chips that every player must contribute to the pot before the dealer deals any cards. However, not all Texas Hold'em games require an ante.

Big Blind And Small Blind

Before the dealer deals any cards, two bets must be made; the “big blind” and the “small blind.” The player closest to the left of the dealer posts the small blind. The player to the left of the small blind must post a big blind, which is usually double the small blind.

However, the big and small blind can vary depending on the type of Texas Hold’em game you’re playing. In limit games, the size of the big blind is usually double the small blind. However, in some games, it can be larger. We discuss No-limit Texas Hold’em vs. Limit Texas Hold'em in greater detail later in the article.

How Do You Deal in Texas Hold'em Rules?

Once the small blind and big blind make their “forced bets,” each Texas Hold'em player is dealt two cards by the dealer, also called “hole cards.” These cards are private and not revealed until the showdown (more on this in later sections).

During the Flop round (the first round), the dealer deals three cards upright to the middle of the table. The dealer also places one additional community card in the middle of the table during the Turn Round and the River Round.
Hold'em players can use these seven cards to make the best five-card poker hand possible.

Betting Options For Texas Hold'em Players

The player who is “under the gun” (UTG) is the first player to make their bet after the big blind. This means they are sitting to the immediate left of the big blind. The remaining players post their bets in clockwise order after that. Possible actions for Hold’em players include: - Fold - This action means a player withdraws from the hand and forfeits any bets previously made. - Check - A check occurs when, before any bets are placed, a player declines to make a bet and saves the option to bet later in the round. - Call - This action means a player matches another player's wager. - Raise - This action means a player increases (typically a raise is double) the size of your wager in an existing round. - All-in - When players don’t have enough chips left to call a bet, they can still wager all of their current chips. However, the all-in player can only win the chips that were in the pot when they called “all-in.”

Pre-Flop Betting

After each player has the chance to view their hole cards, they can play their hand (i.e., call or raise). They can also fold. Betting continues until all remaining players place equal bets in the pot.

The Flop

During the Flop Round, the dealer places three cards face up in the middle of the table. These are community cards that all active players can use. Flop betting begins with the active player closest to the left of the button or dealer. All players can call, raise, or fold. However, players can also “check,” which means they wait to wager and pass the bet to the next active player. ### The Turn After betting action concludes during the Flop Round, the dealer places the fourth card face up on the table alongside the first three community cards. This card is sometimes referred to as the “Fourth Street.” Once placed, another round of betting action ensues, starting with the first active player to the left of the button.

The River

Once betting action concludes in the Turn Round, the fifth card is dealt face-up with the community cards. This card is also called “The River” or “Fifth Street,” the last community card. Once placed, another round of betting action occurs. The same rules apply to the River as they do for the previous rounds.

The Showdown

If you’ve seen highlights from the World Series of Poker, you’re likely most familiar with the Showdown Round. The Showdown is the final round in a hand of Texas Hold'em. It occurs when multiple players remain after the final round of betting.

If no player makes a bet in the final round, every player must show their hand, starting with the person immediately to the left of the button. Otherwise, the Hold'em player who bets or raises last must show their cards first. Whoever has the best five-card poker hand wins the pot.

After the winning player or players collects the pot, a new round of Texas Hold’em begins. The role of the dealer button, small blind, and big blind all rotate clockwise to the next player.

What Happens if Texas Hold'em Ends in a Tie

In the rare case of identical hands or an otherwise tie, the pot is divided equally among the players who share the best hand. For example, a 10 of spades and a 10 of hearts are scored the same.

Limit Texas Hold’em Vs. No-Limit Texas Hold’em

In limit games, the small blind is the first bet placed and the smallest wager. The big blind is double the small blind. For example, in a $5/$10 limit game, the small blind is $5, and the big blind is $10.

The big blind is not restricted to double the small blind in no-limit Games. A player can make a big blind wager that’s as large as they like. For example, in a $10/$25 no-limit game, the small blind is $10, and the big blind is $25.

Generally, people prefer no-limit games because they require more strategy and skill (i.e., the ability to place deceptive bets and use a poker face). The outcome of limit games is more likely to be determined by luck.

What is The 7-2 Rule in Poker?

A 7-2 game in Texas Hold 'em is not for the weak at heart. Essentially, anytime a player wins a hand that includes a 7 and a 2 (which almost always requires bluffing), every other player at the table must give them a predetermined amount of money. The winning player also wins the pot.

Why? Because a hand that includes a 7 and 2 off-suit is considered the worst hand in poker because the numbers are low; they are of disparate suits and so cannot help the player create a flush, and they are too far apart to create a straight.

How to Get Started Playing Texas Hold’em Online Poker

Are you ready to test your new knowledge, bluffing skills, and Texas Hold’em strategies? Check out our Texas Hold’em style strategy card game today or our combo Texas Hold’em meets Solitaire game. Compete head-to-head with other enthusiasts to win real prizes.

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