Texas Holdem is the most popular variation of poker. The rules for Texas Holdem poker are quite easy to understand. As the saying goes, it takes only a few minutes to learn but a lifetime to master.
Let’s start at the beginning and take a look at how to play!
What is the aim of Texas Holdem?
In Holdem, the cards are dealt in four stages, and each stage is accompanied by a betting round. First, preflop, two hole cards are dealt. Then follows the flop, and three community cards are revealed. The fourth card comes on the turn, and lastly, the fifth community card is revealed on the river. When all cards are dealt, each player has two cards (called hole cards), and there are five community cards. Each player can use one, two, or even none of his hole cards in combination with the community cards to form the best possible five-card hand.
What is the betting order in Texas Holdem?
At the beginning of every hand, a marker (with the letter D in the image above) indicates the position of the dealer, also called the button. When playing online or in a casino, the player designated as the dealer does not actually deal the cards. At the left of the dealer are seated two players that post the blinds, forced bets before any card is dealt.
The first player at the left of the dealer (after the dealer clockwise) posts the small blind, and the second posts the big blind, usually twice the size of the small blind. The purpose of blinds is to drive the action, as there is a prize to claim, even before any betting begins. At the end of each hand, the dealer button moves one place to the left (clockwise), so that every player posts blinds in turn.
The cards are dealt in four stages, and at each step, there is a betting round. If more than one players remain after all the betting rounds have completed, there is a showdown, and the players show their hands to find out who wins. Let’s take a look at how the different stages unfold.
Before the Flop (Preflop)
Once the blinds have been placed, each player receives two cards facing down, and the first betting round starts. This step is called preflop, and the two cards each player holds are their hole cards.
The preflop betting round happens before the players see any of the community cards. Preflop play is based on the player’s starting hands, and their position.
For this betting round only, the first one to act is the player sitting at the left of the big blind. The position of this player is also called “under the gun.” After this player acts, the action continues clockwise.
Then comes the flop! On the flop, three community cards are dealt face up. The flop is crucial as it reveals three out of the five community cards. Once the flop is distributed, the second betting round begins. This time, the first player to act is the first player after the dealer (clockwise) that is still in play.
When the flop betting round has completed, the turn comes, also called the fourth street. The fourth community card is revealed, followed by the third betting round. Like in the previous betting round, the betting starts with the first remaining player after the dealer.
After the turn betting round has completed, the final stage, called the river or the fifth street, takes place. The fifth community card is revealed, and the fourth and final betting round begins.
The betting process
At every betting round, and depending on the situation, each player can either check/call, bet/raise, or fold. The betting continues clockwise as each player acts in turn. When following a bet or raise, all subsequent players either called or fold, the betting round ends. This signifies that all the remaining players have invested the same amount to the pot.
The four betting rounds take place under the assumption that more than one players remain in play. If this is still the case after the final betting round, the remaining players go to the showdown. If not, the last remaining player that has not folded wins the pot.
The different betting options
Check, if no betting has taken place in a betting round, a player has the option to check, meaning that he bets nothing but remains in the hand. During pre-flop betting, as there are forced bets, only the big blind has the option to check, given that no one has raised before him.
Call, a player can match the size of the current bet. During pre-flop betting, if no one has raised, a player can call by matching the big blind. In the same scenario, the small blind can call by matching the difference between the small and the big blind.
Bet, if no one has bet, a player may choose to open the action in the current betting round by betting. Pre-flop, the blinds open the betting round, and the players can call, raise or fold.
Raise, this implies increasing the last bet or raise. The raise size must be equal to or bigger than the size of the largest previous bet or raise of the betting round. For example, consider a bet of 2$, followed by a raise to 5$ total. If someone wants to reraise, he must bet 8$ total or more, so 5$ to match plus 3$, which is the size of the previous biggest raise. The only exception can occur if someone goes all-in for less than the necessary minimum, so for less than 8$ in our example.
Fold, if a player does not wish to invest in his hand, he can simply fold. However, he can no longer claim any of the money that is in the pot, including the bets or blinds he has invested so far. The player leaves his cards facing down and cannot take part in any subsequent betting round or the showdown.
After the river has been dealt and the last betting round has completed, the remaining players proceed to showdown. Each player shows their hand forming the best possible five-card holding. To do so, they use one, two, or even none of their hole cards in combination with the community cards. The one with the highest-ranked hand wins the pot. If two or more players produce the same winning hand, they split the pot evenly.
Hand Rankings (ordered by increasing value)
|10. High card||Unrelated and unpaired cards|
|9. One pair||Two cards of the same rank|
|8. Two pair||Two different pairs|
|7. Three of a kind (or set)||Three cards of the same rank|
|6. Straight||Five consecutive cards|
|5. Flush||All cards of the same suit|
|4. Full house||Three of a kind with a pair|
|3. Four of a kind (or quads)||Four cards of the same rank|
|2. Straight flush||Five consecutive cards, all of the same suit|
|1. Royal flush||Ace-High Straight Flush|