Texas Hold’em Rules – Learn How to Play Texas Hold’em Poker the Right Way

texas hold-em rules

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Posted by: Ivan

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Thanks to its simple rules but complex gameplay, Texas Hold’em is by far the most popular poker variant on the planet.

Like with most other games, learning the rules of Texas Hold’em is pretty easy. However, applying them in real-time can be a challenging task if you are a beginner.

In this article, we break down Texas Hold’em rules, hands, and gameplay, explain how you should approach the game, and give tips on how to play Texas Hold’em.

Introduction to Texas Hold’em Poker

Texas Hold’em is the most popular poker variant in Europe and North America. It is equally represented in traditional brick-and-mortar casinos as well as on online poker sites.

This variant of poker developed from stud poker and after rising in popularity in the 20th century, the game gain traction all over the world thanks to the “Moneymaker” effect.

In case you don’t know, Chris Moneymaker was an accountant and an amateur poker player who managed to win the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event and spark a poker revolution.

For most people, Texas Hold’em remains the only poker game they know how to play. For many, the beauty of Texas Hold’em lies in the fact that, unlike most other games, it relies mostly on skill rather than pure luck.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. If you are new to the game, the first thing that you want to do is learn Texas Hold’em rules.

Rules of Texas Hold’em

texas holdem rules

In Texas Hold’em poker, the goal of the game is to make the best possible 5-card combination. Players can use their two hole cards in combination with the five community cards to achieve this.

The game starts with the poker dealer dealing each player at the table two cards face down. These two cards are also known as hole cards.

Each player keeps his hole cards for himself and does not show them to the rest of the players.

Depending on the action, the dealer will also deal an additional five cards turned face up in the middle of the table.

These five cards are known as the community cards because all of the players involved in the hand can use them in combination with their hole cards when putting together their best possible five-card combination.

The Board in Texas Hold’em Poker

Before the 2nd round of betting Before the 3rd round of betting Before the 4th round of betting
Flop Turn River
K 7 A 5 4

The five community cards in Texas Hold’em are dealt in three different stages during the hand.

  • The first three community cards known as “The Flop” are dealt after the first and before the second round of betting
  • The fourth community card known as “The Turn” is dealt after the second and before the third round of betting
  • The fifth and the final community card known as “The River” is dealt after the thrid and before the fourth round of betting

The players can use the two hole cards and the five community cards to construct the best possible hand in the following ways:

  • Using both hole cards and three community cards
  • Using one hole card and four community cards
  • Using five community cards (also known as playing the board)

When it comes to betting rounds, Texas Hold’em gameplay is split into two parts, pre-flop (before the first three community cards have been dealt) and post-flop (after the first three community cards have been dealt).

There are two ways in which a player can win a hand in Texas Hold’em:

  • By having the best five-card poker hand combination, after all, betting rounds have finished (at showdown)
  • By representing a strong combination and forcing other players to fold before the hand comes to showdown (bluffing)

How to Play Texas Hold’em

When it comes to the rules and the gameplay, there are two very important elements that we need to break down. These are position and betting rounds.

The Button in Texas Hold’em

texas holdem poker

The positions in Texas Hold’em are based on the dealer button. In live games, the button is a round disc-like object placed in front of a player. After every hand, the button moves in front of a different player in a clockwise direction.

Depending on if you are playing a home game or at the casino, the button can have two functions.

In-home games, the button can be placed in front of the player who is dealing the cards. This player is also the last player to act in each of the betting rounds after the flop.

If you are playing Texas Hold’em in a brick-and-mortar casino, the button will only mark the player who is last to act on each betting round, since the dealing of the cards is done by the casino’s dealer.

Positions in Texas Hold’em

texas holdem positions

The positions in Texas Hold’em are determined based on the position of the button. Since the button moves after every hand so do the player positions.

The player sitting on the direct left of the button is called the small blind and the player on the direct left of the small blind is called the big blind.

The small blind and the big blind are the only two players that must place a bet before they receive their hole cards.

At a six-handed table, the player on the direct left of the big blind is called under the gun (UTG), the player on his left is called hijack (HJ) and the player on the direct left of the HJ and the direct right of the button is called the cutoff (CO).

Betting Rounds in Texas Hold’em

Depending on the action, there can be a maximum of four betting rounds also known as “streets” in Texas Hold’em. These are

  • Preflop
  • Flop
  • Turn
  • River

Note that the preflop betting round is the only round that occurs in every hand.

Preflop

When it comes to the preflop action, it begins with the small blind and the big blind posting their blinds, after which the dealer starts dealing the hole cards one card at a time.

The dealing starts from the UTG player (the player on the direct left of the big blind) and moves in a clockwise direction with each player receiving one card at a time and a total of two cards.

After the cards are out, the first player to act is UTG and he has three options:

  • Call
  • Raise
  • Fold

If the UTG player makes a call, he must match the amount of the big blind, and by doing so he stays in the hand.

If the UTG player decides to raise, he must put a specific amount of blinds in the pot.

(When players are playing the most popular format of Texas Hold’em, No Limit Texas Hold’em, the UTG player must put at least twice the amount of the BB to make a raise)

Finally, if the UTG player decides to fold, he must forfeit his hand and he is out of the pot.

The action continues with each of the remaining players having the same three options until it reaches the big bling. When the big blind completes his action, the preflop betting round ends.

The Flop

how to play texas holdem

The flop betting round begins with the dealer discarding one card from the deck and then dealing three cards turned face up in the middle of the table – the flop.

Only the players that did not fold their hand preflop can participate in the flop betting round. This street starts with the first player on the button’s left that still has his hole cards.

Apart from the three actions mentioned before, on this street, the players that are still active in the hand also have the option to check – or, in other words, to pass the action to the next player.

The action continues until the last bet is called or until there is only one player left in the hand – other players did not call their bet.

The Turn

The third street begins in the same way as the previous, with the dealer discarding one of the cards from the deck.

However, this time, instead of turning three cards, he only turns one card face up and places it next to the three cards that are already in the middle of the table.

On the turn, the action continues in the identical order as on the flop with the players having the same options, check, bet, call, fold or raise.

The River

The fourth and the last round of betting in Texas Hold’em is the river. The action on the river starts after the dealer discarded one card from the deck and then places the following card face up next to the four cards that are already in the middle of the table.

The action continues until the last bet is called or until there is only one player left in the hand.

After the last bet has been called, all of the players still in the hand show their cards so that the winner of the hand could be determined. This part of the hand is called the showdown.

The Showdown

rules of texas holdem

At the showdown, players show their hole cards and the dealer determines the winner of the hand based on the best five-card combination that players can put together.

The strength of each of combination is determined based on the Texas Hold’em hand rankings.

Texas Hold’em Hand Rankings

From the strongest to the weakest, below are the hand rankings used for Texas Hold’em (and for most other poker variants).

Hand
Combination
Description Example
Royal Flush Five consecutive cards in the same suit from A to T AKQJ10
Straight Flush Five consecutive cards in the same suit 76543
Four of a Kind Four cards of the same rank KKKK2
Full House Three cards of the same rank + two cards of the same rank AAAQQ
Flush Five non-consecutive cards of the same suit J10985
Straight Five consecutive cards of which at least one is not of the same suit as the others 109876
Three of a Kind Three cards of the same rank 777J9
Two Pair Two cards of the same rank + two different cards of the same rank 2233A
One Pair Two cards of the same rank 66KQ4
High Card A non-paired hand – five random cards KQ987

Learning the Texas Hold’em rankings is one of the most important steps in understanding how the rules of the game work and what they are based on.

How to Play Texas Hold’em Poker the Right Way

After you learn the rules of Texas Hold’em, one of the best ways to learn how to play the game is to first watch someone else do it (online videos) and then start playing for yourself.

Watching poker videos is an important step because it will give you insights into how other people think about the game.

This will allow you to develop the correct thought process faster.

When you feel that you have a decent idea of how the game is played, you can start playing yourself.

We would recommend that you start playing online poker first since online poker rooms offer much lower stakes.

There is a high chance, that no matter how good you think you are, you will be a losing poker player at first. So, we would advise that you start playing at the lowest limits offered, for example, 0.01c/0.02c.

Here are some tips that you should follow when you start playing:

  • Play only 1 or 2 tables at the same time
  • Learn opening ranges
  • Don’t play too many hands
  • Don’t bluff too much

Remember, these are only some of the guidelines for starting out and they don’t guarantee that you will win money at the game. It will take some time before you are a winning player.

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