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  1. poker
  2. texas holdem rules

What Are The Rules Of A Texas Holdem Poker Game?

Table of Contents


Texas Holdem

Considered the most important and most exciting poker variant of the last hundred years, Texas Hold'Em is a fast-paced but calculating game that rewards big brains and bigger bets. The premise is simple: every player is dealt two cards, face down, that only they can use ("hole cards"). Then, community cards are dealt face up: three cards dealt together ("the flop"), a fourth individual card ("the turn") and one final card ("the river"). Players can use any of the five community cards plus their own two hole cards to make the best five-card hand. Seeing cards come down to make your hand is one of the most exciting feelings in poker--but knowing those same cards might help others beat you opponent means careful analysis and, most importantly, the ability to read your opponent.

The World Series of Poker Main Event is considered the world championship of poker, where pros and amateurs alike duke it out for millions of dollars worth of prize money--and No-Limit Texas Hold'Em is the game they play.

As with all things poker, there are lots of tall tales about the birthplace and inventor or Texas Hold'Em, but it has consistently been the most popular version of the game for the last half-century, spawning important books like Doyle Brunson's Super Systems, movies like Rounders, thousands of hours of televised tournaments, and dozens of online poker rooms.

There are generations of players who've made their fortune on Texas Hold'Em, including Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, and Phil Hellmuth.

The Table

Texas Hold'em is played on a standard poker surface: a felted casino table. Many tables have padded edges so players can comfortably lean for hours on end, and many have lines to delineate where chips have to pass to be considered a bet into the pot. Of course. Most online poker rooms emulate this surface, showing animated "chips" on an animated "table." (Of course, home games are played anywhere players can gather: kitchen tables, countertops, and anywhere cards can be dealt.)

The Objectives

The object of Texas Hold'Em is the same as every poker variant: win the most chips.

Game Format and Duration

Texas Hold'Em is a popular tournament game, in which every player is given the same number of chips and they play until one player wins them all. But Texas Hold'Em is also an incredibly popular cash game: players buy as many chips as they have cash, and come and go as they please.

Texas Hold'Em is usually no-limit: at any moment, a player can bet all of their chips. This is the most popular way to play, but not the only one: players can play limit (they bet a set amount, and there are only so many raises allowed during each round of betting) and pot-limit (the maximum allowable bet is to match the number of chips already in the pot).

Most Texas Hold'Em games are blind games: the players to the left of the dealer each put in a small number of chips before any cards are dealt. The first player to the left puts in the small blind, usually one-half of the minimum bet; the next player puts in the big blind, usually the size of the minimum bet. During tournaments, blinds raise incrementally to keep the game moving.

This doesn't mean Texas Hold'Em never uses antes: some games have antes just to make it more exciting, and late into tournament play antes might be introduced to keep the game moving.

Texas Hold 'Em Teams and Players

Because Texas Hold'Em uses relatively few cards (only two cards are dealt to each player), a normal 52-card deck can accommodate a lot of players: as many as 10 players to a table. Tournaments can be anywhere from a single table to thousands of players.

Equipment

  • A table
  • Standard 52-card deck (no Jokers)
  • Chips: always preferable to cash, since they are easier to count and move (plus, they just feel cool).

Fouls and Penalties

Every card room has its own set of house rules, and players should always be aware of them. Common rules in casinos include not taking too long to act during your turn, no profane language, and absolutely no colluding with your fellow players. Home games also have their own rules, and these might include requiring players to announce when they are leaving well in advance, not drinking at the table, or paying the bank a quarter every time you swear.

Scoring and Winning

Players win Texas Hold'Em by winning chips. This means winning individual pots, which players win by either convincing every other player to fold their hand or by having the best hand at showdown.

To win at showdown, players use any combination the five community cards and their two hole cards to make the best five-card hand. Texas Hold'Em ranks hands the same as most common poker games: a pair beats a high card, two pair beats one pair, and so on. If two players have the same five-card hand, they usually split the pot.

Dealing a Hand of Texas Hold'Em Poker

A hand of Texas Hold'Em follows the following steps:

Blinds

  • Before any cards are dealt, the players to the left of the dealer put some chips into the pot to make the hand worth playing. (Players take turns dealing, which means they take turns putting in blinds.)
  • The first player to the left of the dealer is the small blind. Before any cards are dealt, they put in a small amount, usually one half of the minimum bet.
  • The next player to the left (one to the left of the small blind, tow to the left of the dealer) is the big blind. They put in a slightly bigger amount, usually the minimum bet.

Dealing Hole Cards

  • The dealer deals every player two hole cards.
  • First, the dealer deals each player one card, face down. They start with the player to their left, then go around counterclockwise, dealing one at a time to each player. The last player they deal a card to is themselves.
  • The dealer then deals a second hole card to every player. They do so in the same order: start with the player to the left, go around counterclockwise, and end with themselves.

Round of Betting: Pre-Flop

  • Now that every player has hole cards, there is a round of betting.
  • Because the first two players to the left have already put in chips, the first player to act pre-flop is the third player to the left of the dealer. If this player wants to continue, they have to match the big blind; they also have the option to raise or fold.
  • Action now continues around the table counterclockwise: every player must either call, fold or raise.
  • After the dealer has acted, it is now the small blinds turn. They can call, fold, or raise.
  • After the small blind has acted, the big blind can act. They can raise, call a raise, or fold to a raise. If no one has raised, the big blind can also check, because they have already put in the minimum bet. (Never fold when it's free to check!)
  • If there is a raise, the players continue in order until every player has either called the raise or folded. If every other player folds, the player who raised wins the pot. All cards are discarded, and another hand is dealt.
  • If more than one player still holds cards, play advances to the flop.

Dealing the Flop

  • Before the dealer deals the flop, they discard one card off the top of the deck. This is called the burn card.
  • The dealer draws three cards, face up, in the center of the table where every player can see them. These three cards are called the flop. Any player with hole cards can use these three cards plus their hole cards to make a five-card hand.
  • Now comes the second round of betting. It starts with the player sitting to the left of the dealer. This player has the option to check or bet. (Never fold when it's free to check!)
  • If a player bets, every player, beginning with the player to their left, must either call, fold or raise.
  • If there is a bet or raise, the players continue in order until every player has either called, raised, or folded. If every other player folds, the player who raised wins the pot. All cards are discarded, and another hand is dealt.
  • If more than one player still holds cards, play advances to the turn.

Dealing the Turn

  • Before the dealer deals the turn, they discard one card off the top of the deck--a second burn card.
  • The dealer flips a single card face up--the turn. Any player with hole cards can use all four community cards plus their hole cards to make their best five-card hand.
  • Now comes the third round of betting, again starting with the player to the left of the dealer. This player can check or bet. (Never fold when it's free to check!)
  • If a player bets, every player, beginning with the player to their left, must either call, fold or raise.
  • If there is a bet or raise, the players continue in order until every player has either called, raised, or folded. If every other player folds, the player who raised wins the pot. All cards are discarded, and another hand is dealt.
  • If more than one player still holds cards, play advances to the river.

Dealing the River

  • Before the dealer deals the river, they discard one card off the top of the deck--a third and final
  • The dealer then places one more card, face up, next to the turn--the river. Any player with hole cards can use all five community cards plus their hole cards to make their best five-card hand.
  • This is the final round of betting. It starts with the player sitting to the left of the dealer. They have the option to check or bet. (Never fold when it's free to check!)
  • If a player bets, every player, beginning with the player to their left, must either call, fold or raise.
  • If there is a bet or raise, the players continue in order until every player has either called, raised, or folded. If every other player folds, the player who raised wins the pot. All cards are discarded, and another hand is dealt.
  • If more than one player still holds cards, they showdown: the last player to make a bet or raise shows their hole cards and announces their hand. Starting with the players to their left, each player holding cards takes turns either showing their cards to announce they have the better five-card hand or mucking their cards to admit defeat. (Note: Mucking can save face if a player is badly beat, but if a player shows their cards in a showdown, they might discover they have a better hand than they thought.)
  • As in all poker showdowns, the best five-card hand wins the pot. The player holding it collects their chips, and another hand is dealt.

Texas Hold Em Rules Summary

  • Texas Hold'Em uses the same basic hand rankings as most other poker games:
  • As in all poker games, verbal bets are binding: what you say out loud trumps what you actually do (so if you say "I raise $5," and then put in a $1 chip, you owe the pot $4--no take-backs).
  • Similarly, there are no string bets: No calling a bet and then adding "Oh, I actually I raise!" This is because you can see your opponents' reaction and use that information, so it's deemed unfair.
  • If you were the last to bet, you have to show during a showdown--and your opponent can demand you do so rather than just mucking a bluff.
  • Leaving the table:
  • If you leave a cash game table for a bathroom break or any other reason, the dealer might deal you in and your hand will be folded; other dealers might skip you over. If you're away from the table while on the blinds, you might be blinded in on the next hand you're dealt when you return; this varies from card room to card room.
  • In tournaments., your blinds will be taken away even if you are not at the table--step away for too long and you'll bust!

Fun Texas Holdem Variants

Pineapple: Instead of two hole cards, players get three, but pick one to discard after the flop. This can lead to some agonizing decisions about which draws to chase!



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