The Rules of Texas Holdem
Texas Hold'em is the most widely played poker game in the world, and it's generally considered to be a quite simple version of poker. It doesn't really take long to learn the rules, because they aren't that complicated. Once you have learned them, then you are ready to start playing the game. On this page we have provided a straightforward explanation of the rules that should be easy for beginners to understand.
Basics of the Game
The objective of each Texas Hold'em hand is to win the pot, which can be done in two ways. You can force all your opponents to fold based on your betting activity, or you can have the best possible five card hand at showdown. You can make your hand using any combination of the two hole cards you are dealt and the five community cards that are dealt for all players to use.
The first thing you need to understand are the hand rankings used in Texas Hold'em, as this shows the relative value of all hands. The hand rankings are as follows, from the weakest to the strongest.
Pre Flop Betting Round
Texas Hold'em can be divided into four distinct betting rounds, the first of which is the pre-flop round. Prior to this round, the cards are shuffled and the player to the left of the dealer must make a forced bet known as the small blind. The player to the left of the small blind must also make a forced bet, of double the amount, known as the big blind. The size of the blinds is determined before the game starts.
Each player is then dealt two cards, face down, known as hole or pocket cards. The players can all look at their hold cards at this point, and the first betting round begins. The player to the left of the big blind acts first and can either fold, call, or raise. Folding means discarding a hand and playing no further part in the pot. Calling means matching the current bet (the big blind at this point). Raising means matching the current bet and betting an additional amount. Anyone wishing to call subsequent to a raise has to match the total amount bet by the player raising.
The play then moves clockwise around the table, each player having the same options. The round is finished once every player has either folded or called, and play progresses to the flop. If only one player is left (i.e. all other players fold), then that player wins the pot.
Flop Betting Round
Three community cards are now dealt face up for all players to see. These three cards are known as the flop. The flop betting round starts with the player closest to the left of the dealer and moves clockwise around the table. Each player has the same options as in the previous round, with the additional option of checking if no-one else has bet.
Checking means staying in the hand but not making a bet. If everyone else still in the pot checks, play progresses to the next betting round. If any player bets, then all other players must either fold, call that bet, or raise. Play progresses to the next round when every player has either folded or called. Again if only one player is left at this stage, he wins the pot.
Turn Betting Round
A fourth community card is now dealt face up known as the turn card. Another betting round takes place, again starting with the player closest to the left of the dealer. The format for this round is the same as the previous round, with players being able to check, call, raise, or fold. If one player is left, he wins the pot; if more than one player is left, play progresses to the next round.
River Betting Round
A fifth, and final, community card is dealt face up, known as the river card. The last round of betting takes place. If more than one player is left, players show their cards to see who has won. This is known as the showdown, and the player with the best hand wins the pot. If two or more players have hands of equal value, the pot is split between them.
Following the end of the hand, the player to the left of the dealer becomes the dealer for the next hand. A new hand is then dealt, starting at the pre-flop round as detailed above.
Author: Brad Johnson
Updated: March 2015
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