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How to Play Texas Holdem?
Want to know how to play Texas Holdem poker? It's the world's most popular form of poker and the most common type you'll find in online casinos. You can become an expert and compete nationally or just pick up a fun game you can play anywhere. Either way, learning how to play Texas Holdem is fun! And the Texas Holdem rules are deceptively simple for a game requiring a huge amount of skill to be win consistently.
Nonetheless, you've got to know the rules very well before you try your hand at this game. Learn how to play Texas Holdem in our complete handy guide below.
Texas Holdem Rules
Below we cover the Texas Holdem rules. You'll encounter many variations as you learn how to play Texas Holdem poker, but almost all follow this order.
1. The Blinds
In each game, the person whose role is to be the dealer (if this role falls to a participant: casino games typically have a non-participating dealer) moves one place clockwise. In online games, this is referred to as the dealer button. Before the deal, though, most Texas Holdem rules stipulate that blinds (blind wagers) must be made:
- Small blind: the small blind is usually half the size of the big blind. This is made by the person 1 place clockwise of the dealer.
- Big blind: the big blind is equal to the minimum bet. This is put up by the person 1 place clockwise of the small blind.
As you learn how to play Texas Holdem poker, you'll see games marked as things like $1/$2 games. This means that the small blind is $1, while the big blind (and minimum buy-in) is $2.
The participants making blind wagers are at a disadvantage for that round because everyone else can opt-out without paying. They must also go first in every round except the pre-flop. However, without the blinds, there would be no need for anyone to wager unless they were dealt a good hand. So, it's a way to get the pot started.
1a. The Ante
In some games, there may also be a compulsory wager called the ante. This is typically smaller than either blind and is simply a pay-to-participate rule that some games enforce.
2. The Deal
Once the blinds are complete and there's a pot to play for, every game starts with the deal. Cards are distributed by the dealer clockwise, starting with the small blind and ending up back with the dealer. Each person is dealt 2 cards called hole cards.
3. Hole Cards & Pre-Flop
Once you've received your hole cards, the first round of wagering starts. This is solely based on the 2 cards in your hand. The action starts with the person clockwise of the big blind, and you have 5 options:
- Check. If no bets have been made, you can check. This means you keep your cards but are not active in the round yet.
- Bet. You place the first bet. This must be equal to the big blind.
- Fold. After a bet has been made, you can decide not to participate in the round if you don't want to match it. You put your cards face-down, wager no money, and take no further part.
- Call. This means you match the opening bet and are active in the round.
- Raise. This means increasing the size of the bet. Other players must then match this or fold.
The pre-flop wager continues until all players have either folded or matched the highest bet.
4. The Flop
In the round known as the flop, the dealer places 3 cards face-up in the center of the table. These are community cards and count as part of the hand of every active player. In this round, you begin to get an idea of the strength of your hand.
Wagering begins with the first active player clockwise of the dealer (or button) and continues around the table, similar to the pre-flop. There are no blinds in this round, and people can check if no bet has yet been made.
5. The Turn
During this round, a fourth community card is placed face-up in the middle. A subsequent betting round ensues, with the order and Texas Holdem rules the same as the previous round.
6. The River
The next round is known as the river and involves the fifth and final community card being placed in the center of the table. All participants now see their complete hands. Betting continues in the same way as previous rounds, until no one is willing to raise any further or until only 1 person is remaining.
7. The Showdown
If there is more than one player left after the river, it's time for the showdown. This means that the last person to raise shows their hand first. If nobody raised during the river, the nearest active player clockwise from the dealer shows their hand first.
The order here is mostly for dramatic effect and does not affect the outcome. The person with the highest hand wins, or if there is an equal match, the pot is split evenly (usually in Texas Holdem rules, all suits are considered equal).
In land-based card games, a burn card is a card that is dealt from the top of a deck, unused and discarded by the dealer. Burn cards are usually not shown to the players.
There are 3 burn cards in a Texas Holdem game. Before dealing with the flop, turn, and river, the dealer requires to discard the top card from the deck.
The purpose of the burn card is to prevent someone from cheating with marked poker cards, but some advanced marked cards cannot be prevented, such as the poker analyzer cheating system that can scan barcode marked cards.
Texas Holdem Rules for the Next Game
The dealer button and the blinds all move one place clockwise for the next game. If a new player is dealt in for the next round, this cannot be in a clockwise position between the dealer and the big blind. This could lead to another player having to pay the big blind 2 rounds in a row or enable players to skip this responsibility.
4 Major Variations of Texas Holdem
There are so many minor tweaks that you can make to the Texas Holdem rules. These variations often adjust the games based on the means of the players or make the game more competitive, especially in small-scale cash games. However, there are 4 major variations of the game:
Limit Texas Holdem Rules
All bets and raises up to and including the flop are equal to the big blind. There are 4 bets per player maximum each round. During the turn and river, all bets and raises are doubled.
The minimum bet is equal to the big blind. Each raise must be at least equal to the previous raise. Players can raise to any limit that they can afford. There are unlimited raises per player each round.
Pot Limit Rules
Play is similar to the no-limit Texas Holdem rules, but the maximum raise is the size of the pot (including the amount required to call the previous bet).
Mixed Limit Rules
If you want to learn how to play Texas Holdem differently, this is a good option. Each game switches between limit and no-limit play.
Now you know the rules. You've got the essentials down, but the only true way to learn how to play Texas Holdem is… to play! It's impossible to be fully prepared for the subtleties of this amazing game before you try it, but you're as ready as you can ever be.
Best of luck, and most importantly, always make sure you're enjoying yourself.