Hold'em Basics

Texas Hold'em Rules

Texas Hold'em is playable by a wide variety of number of players. A so called full table has 8-10 players. In recent years play with 6 players have become common - it is faster paced and more aggressive. It can also be played with as few as 2 players. So any number of players between 2-10. Before the game starts a single card is dealt to each player; high card will be the first dealer. The dealerĀ“s position is indicated by a white plastic chip referred to as the button, which is also what the dealer position is called, sometimes referred to as being on the button. After each round of play the dealer button rotates to the left.


Before cards are a pot has to be created - otherwise there would be nothing to win for the first player starting - and games would become boring. In Texas Hold'em the initial pot is created by the so called big blind and small blind. The small blind is normally half as big as the big blind. The small blind is the first player left of the button, and the big blind is to the left of the small blind. A bet is when money is put into the pot for the first time in a round. The blind sizes are what you look for when choosing between different levels of play in poker. For example 1/2 $ No limit means that the small blind is 1 $ and the big blind is 2 $.

The dealer will then deal two cards (referred to as pocket cards or hole cards) face down to each player, one at a time, starting with the player on his left. Once the cards are dealt, each player looks at their cards; on their action they must then decide if they wish to call the current bet (the big blind, which is the highest amount bet at this point) which means to match it, fold their hand without betting if they don't like their cards, or raise the bet by putting in more money. Each player, starting with the seat to the left of the big blind, makes their choice and acts. If a player raises the bet, each player must now call the new amount, including those who may have already acted. At any time a player may re-raise, meaning that they raise it again beyond the amount it was raised previously. If no player raises the big blind, then the player in that position may check, meaning they do not want to put more money in, or raise. It is important to note that if a players raises he may not raise again unless he was re-raised, as opposed to called. The round of betting stops when all players have either folded or called the last raise.


The dealer deals three cards face up simultaneously; this is called the Flop. These are the first of five community cards that all players can use, along with their pocket cards (both, one or neither), to make the best possible poker hand. The standard poker hand ranks are used. The player in the small blind position is now UTG, or Under The Gun, meaning they are first to act now and on every subsequent round of betting. They must make a decision as in pre-flop play, with one change: they can choose to check if they don't want to bet or fold. Once again, the betting round ends only when all players have folded or called the last bet or raise.


The dealer deals a fourth community card, called the Turn, face up. There is another round of betting, exactly as after the flop, with the small blind seat being UTG.


After a final burn card, the dealer turns over the fifth and last community card, called the River. There is one final round of betting. At this point (or before) if all but one player folds, the last player who didn't fold wins the pot. This player may muck his hand, which means to toss it into the discard pile by the dealer without showing anyone what it was.


A showdown occurs when a player is called after the River, and could involve anywhere from two players to the entire table, depending on how many stayed in to this point. All players still in the hand show their cards, starting with the last person to bet. At any point after this player showed his cards other players in the showdown may muck their hand, essentially conceding the pot; just think of mucking as folding. They are admitting they have been beat without having to show their cards. This strategy (mucking) helps keep the other players from learning your playing style, such as if you bet heavy on two pairs or like to chase a flush.

The best five-card poker hand wins.

Winning a hand

Besides everyone but you folding, the only way to win a hand is in a showdown. The five best cards are used out of the five community cards and each player's hole cards, which can lead to some interesting situations. For example, if the board, or table cards, is AAKK9 and no player has better than a pair of eights in their hand, the board is the best possible hand, and all players in the showdown will chop the pot, which means to divide it evenly among those players. The same holds true if two players tie a hand. In the event of a flush or a straight, the player holding the highest card in the series wins; if the board has the five highest, the pot is chopped.

Texas Hold'em can be played as Limit, No Limit, and Pot Limit. Limit Hold'em means that you can only bet up to a predetermined amount, typically equal to the big blind, and raise the same amount. Raises are typically limited to four or five "bets" total, meaning the big blind, the first raise, and then three or four more raises. Pot Limit Hold'em means you can raise up to the current amount in the pot, but no more. No Limit Texas Hold'em is the most dramatic of the three, where any player, at any time, can declare All In and bet everything he has. A player calling an All In move with too few chips creates a side pot, which he cannot win and is separate from the main pot, which he can.

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