How to Play Texas Hold’em Poker

Table of content

Why play Texas holdem poker?

Poker is one game that has been revolutionized by the digital age. Played at casinos and poker rooms around the world for nearly two centuries, but always something out of reach for many, suddenly through online poker sites and widely publicized events such as the World Poker Tour, millions are enjoying the game from home or on the go on their mobile devices.

However, while all poker games have some things in common, there are a number of variants, each with their own way of doing things. One of the most popular is Texas Hold’em, and if you want to learn how to play, this guide is for you.

What is Texas Hold’em Poker?

The most popular variant of the game, if you have ever seen a poker game on TV or in a film, chances are it was Texas holdem. It is the poker variant used at major tournaments and has the most players using online poker sites.

If you learn how to play Texas hold’em poker, you can join in the biggest poker games around, and the good news is that thanks to the popularity of the game, there are a lot of resources to help. In this guide, we will explain the rules of Texas hold’em and the best ways to start on your poker journey.The basics of Texas hold’em are simple, but as with all poker games, it is the strategies you need to win, and the challenge from other players, that make it such a fun and rewarding experience.

Learn how to play Texas Holdem Rules

The game of poker, whichever version you play, is all about creating the best possible five-card hand. In this game, that five-card hand is made up of two cards dealt to the player, called the hole cards, and up to five cards dealt to the table, known as the community cards.

Players can use any combination of their hole cards, that other players cannot see, and the community cards that all players can see and use, to create the best poker hand they can. Whether you play poker online or at a live game, these basic rules and the pattern of play stay the same.

However, while you always want to hold the best hand possible, winning the game doesn’t always rely on having the best cards, and this is where the magic of poker comes through. The betting rounds, and the strategies you use in them, are the key to being able to win consistently in poker.

Betting Rounds and Player Actions for your poker hand

Understanding the betting rounds and how the game progresses is really the core of learning how to play Texas hold’em. It is here where you can apply strategy to win, and even more than the cards dealt, it is where the fate of the pot is decided.

Pre Flop Holdem

Betting begins before the game starts, with two players having to place bets. These are known as the  the small and big blinds. The small blind is immediately to the left of the dealer, the big blind the next player to the left.

After that, the game begins with each player being dealt two cards. These are the hole cards, and are placed face down, so it is only that player who knows what each hole card is.

Once each player has those cards, the first betting round begins. Starting with the player to the left of the Big Blind, and then continuing clockwise around the table, each player has 3 options:

  • Call – Match the amount bet by the Big Blind
  • Raise – Increase the required bet to stay in the game. There are often holdem rules to limit how much the bet can increase, depending on the variant being played.
  • Fold – Throw in the cards and leave the hand.

Once every player has made their first action, the next round commences.

The Flop

Here we see the first community cards as we play texas holdem poker, these are cards that players can use as part of their final 5-card hand. Three are dealt and placed face up on the table, so every player can see them and build hands with them.

Once those cards are dealt, players that did not fold in the initial round go through a second round of betting, beginning with the first active player to the left of the dealer, and continuing clockwise until all have made their move.

In addition to the three options mentioned in the pre-flop, players can now also opt to check, basically a pass on this round. They can only do this if no player has made a call or raise before them in this turn.

The Turn

This follows the same pattern as the Flop, except this time just one further community card is added to the previous three. If there are still at least two players in the game, that is, who have not folded, then the game progresses to the next phase.

The River

Same as the previous round, a single card is added to the community cards, and a final round of betting takes place.

If there are still two or more players in the game at the end of the betting round, then the game goes to the showdown, where each player reveals their hand, made up of cards from the hole cards and community cards, or even just community cards if you wish.The player with the highest-ranking hand wins the pot.

Position and Its Importance when you play poker

If you look at the rules of Texas hold’em, you can see how position on the table affects the game. The players to the left of the dealer, the small blind and big blind, set the initial minimum bet and are obligated to make a bet before they see their own cards. This seems a disadvantage, but after that, they are the last two to bet in every round, so can see everything everyone else does before making a move.

That is a tactical advantage, while for the player to the immediate left of the bog blind, they bet first every time, which can leave them exposed. Where you are on the table will influence how you play, and force you to adjust strategies to deal with it.

This is why the dealership moves around the table after each hand too, so all players take up all positions during the course of a game, to even out the advantages.

Texas hold’em  best poker hand

While many games are decided in the betting phase, where through a combination of bet raises and bluffs, players can push their opponents to fold, leaving them with the pot as the last player, if two or more players stay to the end, then which hand they have decides who wins.

So, its important to know exactly what hand beats what, so you can see whether you have a chance or not before betting. This table shows all the hands in ranking order. Each had will beat those below it and lose to those above it.

Poker HandDescription
Royal FlushA straight from 10 to Ace of all the same suit
Straight FlushA straight with cards all of the same suit
Four of a KindFour cards of the same value
Full HouseA pair and three of a kind in the same hand
FlushAny five cards of the same suit
StraightFive cards in sequential order but not of the same suit
Three of a Kind – also called a setThree of a Kind – also called a set
Two PairTwo separate pairs of cards
A PairTwo same value cards

Bluffing and Psychological Aspects of texas hold’em poker rules

While the rules are based around the best hand winning, as already mentioned, this only applies right at the end of the game if there are two or more players left. The reason poker is such an attractive game for so many people is that you can win with a bad hand, or no hand at all, by adopting a psychological approach to the game.

Bluffing is all about convincing everyone at the poker table that you have a strong hand, even if you don’t. Using bet raises and so on, the goal is to convince other players they can’t beat your hand, so they fold. If everyone folds, the last player in the game wins the pot without ever needing to show their hand at all, so through this, you can win no matter how good your hand is.

This is what sets poker apart as a card game, its not just about the luck of the draw. Once you have learned the rules of Texas holdem, it is this part of the game that you must master.

Advanced Texas Hold’em Strategies to make the best chance of winning

Your goals as a pokjer player who wants to win is to keep the other players guessing, don’t become predictable so they feel comfortable. Being aggressive is one way to do this, and that begins at the pre flop. You will find many players simply call the big blind every time, but if all players do that, there is no added risk in the game.

If you want to push people to fold, or at least boost the pot to push them to fold later, then raising the big blind early adds risk to everyone that follows you in the betting round. Pushing beyond a player’s risk limits is key to getting them to fold.

However, while being aggressive in this way is a great strategy, remember that you don’t have to play every hand. It is OK to fold, and if you find yourself in a weak position, it is often the best option. Your goal is to win over time, and that means maximizing your wins, and minimizing your losses. Fold when you need to, its not poor play, it’s the opposite.

Common Mistakes with Texas hold’em rules and How to Avoid Them

If you have just learned how to play Texas hold’em, there is a lot to think about, and it is easy to make mistakes. But while as new players we can all find inventive ways to go wrong, there are some common problems that can be easily avoided.

Playing too many hands

Especially if the cards are not being kind and you find yourself losing a lot in a session, it can be easy to get frustrated and started betting on everything to try and catch up with those losses. Some hands are just poor, and you should walk away from them. The key is to stay disciplined, treat each hand as its own thing and play to the merits of the cards and table, rather than chasing wins where there are none.

Ignoring table position

This one really impacts your new player experience. You have the rules sorted, you understand a few strategies, and you hit the online poker tables to put them all into practice. But in the excitement, you don’t take into account where you are on the table. The wrong betting strategy in the wrong table position can allow other players to exploit you and win. Always consider table position before making any move.

Selecting the right game

The final one is something most of us are guilty of long after we pass that learning stage. Eager for a game, you fire up a computer or mobile app and join the first table you find. You want to find a table of lower level players, and avoid tables with great players already there. They will make winning more challenging, and may end up taking your money.

How to play Texas hold’em poker games online for free or real money

As the most popular poker game out there, you can play Texas hold’em online on any of the major casinos, and there are hundreds of dedicated poker apps to choose from too. While the focus is on playing for money, most of the best online poker platforms also have a free to play option that lets you get familiar with the game and try out strategies without risking any money.

FAQ

How do I win when I play Texas Holdem Poker?

There are two ways to win the poker game. First, be the last player in the hand after everyone else folds, or have the best hand of the players left in the game after the final betting round.

What happens if there’s a tie in Texas Hold’em?

If two players have the same hand, two pair, a flush and so on, it is the hand with the highest value cards that win, with aces counting high. If the highest value cards are the same, then the pot is usually split equally between the two players.

What is the dealer button, small blind, and big blind?

The dealer button is the player assigned as dealer for the hand. The two players to the left of the dealer are first the small blind, and second the big blind. The two blind players must place a bet before the first cards are dealt.

How are cards dealt in Texas Hold’em?

Each player is dealt two cards face down, so only they see them. These are known as the hole cards. After that, during the course of the game, first three cards are dealt face up to the table, then two more face up cards, on per betting round. These are known as the community cards.

What is the order of play in Texas Hold’em?

In the first round, the player to the left of the dealer, the small blind, and the next player to the left, the big blind, make the initial bets. From there, each turn the player to the left of the big blind begins the betting and all players follow on in a clockwise motion.

How many players can play Texas Hold’em?

Between two and ten players play at a poker table usually, however some tournaments use eleven players at a table for early rounds with lots of competitors. In normal online poker, it will be ten or less, with a minimum of two.

What is a betting round in Texas Hold’em poker?

A betting round is when all players, beginning with the player to the left of the big blind and following in a clockwise order, place bets or fold.

What are the hand rankings in Texas Hold’em poker?

Hand rankings are the value of each hand in the game. From highest to lowest, the order is royal flush, straight flush, four of a kind, a full house, a flush, a straight, three of a kind, two pair, one pair, high card.

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