How to Play Texas Hold’em
By definition, poker is a family of card games that combine gambling, skill, and strategy. There are many variants of poker; however, the most well-known one is undoubtedly Texas Hold’em. The origins of Texas Hold’em aren’t exact, but it is thought the game was invented in the early 1900s in Robstown, Texas, hence the name.
Texas Hold’em wasn’t always as popular as it is today; it was the legends of poker such as Amarillo Slim, Doyle Brunson, and Crandell Addington who introduced Texas Hold’em to Las Vegas casinos and helped popularize the game during the early 1960s.
However, the biggest boom that happened to this variance of poker occurred during the 2000s when the popularity of Hold’em skyrocketed thanks to televised events. Today, the most prestigious poker tournament is called WSOP (World Series of Poker), and it regularly has thousands of entrants.
Players are dealt two face down cards in this variance of poker and, if need be, five community cards are dealt face up in three different stages. If you wish to learn more about Texas Hold’em poker, make sure to stick with us — we will cover the rules of the game in detail and talk about different types of Texas Hold’em games.
Types of Texas Hold’em
As is the case with every other variance of poker, there are multiple types of Texas Hold’em you can play. These are fantastic as they introduce great variety to poker games. Moreover, different types of poker often make things a lot more exciting by bringing more action to the table.
The majority of Texas Hold’em game types are determined by the betting structure; they include rules designed to set or remove limits on the amount you can bet during the game.
For example, players can choose between Pot Limit, No Limit, and Fixed Limit poker types. If you’re playing a pot limit game, your maximum bet will depend on the size of the pot. If you are in a no limit game, however, you are free to bet as much as you want as long as you have the chips. In a fixed limit game, players can only bet the minimum and maximum predetermined amounts.
There is also the more and more popular Ultimate Texas Hold’em where the players try to beat the house and take the pot.
Regardless of the type of poker game you play, the rules always stay the same, and the only thing that changes is the amount you can bet. We will cover each type of poker in detail, but before we get there, we’ll explain how to play Texas Hold’em and teach all newcomers about Texas Hold’em rules.
How to Play Poker — Step-by-Step Guide
Unlike some casino games that are played against the dealer, poker is played against other players. Therefore, in order to play poker, you will need a minimum of two players and a maximum of ten. However, for the best overall experience, most casinos limit the number of players to either six or eight.
The Button and the Blinds
Every round of Texas Hold’em starts with forced bets we call blinds. The blinds depend on the marker known as The Dealer’s Button or simply The Button in poker terms. The player who sits clockwise from the player on the button is forced to place a small blind bet, while the player clockwise from the player placing the small blind bet has to place a forced big blind bet.
The size of the blind will depend on the casino and the type of Texas Hold’em game you’re playing. For example, in no limit and pot limit games, the big blind is double the size of the small blind. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so before you join any casino table, you should ask the dealer what the blinds are and what type of game is played at the table.
Another thing to keep an eye on when playing Texas Hold’em is the antes. That’s because, in some cases, every player will be required to contribute to the pot before the beginning of every round.
Once all players have placed their initial bets, the dealer deals two face down cards to each player. The player who’s clockwise from the player on the big blind starts the betting action. In order to help you visualize this, imagine it like this: player on the button, small blind, big blind, player taking the action.
Depending on the phase or whose turn it is to take action, players can make several moves in Texas Hold’em. They can fold, check, bet, call, or raise.
Fold — If you dislike the cards you’ve been dealt or you don’t want to bet, you can simply fold. That means you lose your cards and all bets you’ve made thus far. Once you fold, you need to wait for the new round to begin.
Check — If you check, you are not taking any particular action; you are simply passing the action to the next player sitting clockwise from you. Texas Hold’em players often signal they’re checking by double tapping on the casino table with their hand closed in a fist.
Bet — If you think you have a good hand, you can try to increase the size of the pot by betting. The amount you can bet depends on the type of poker game you’re playing and on the limits, as we’ve mentioned previously.
Call and Raise — If a player before you decided to bet, let’s say $5, in order for you to stay in the round and continue playing you must either call, raise, or fold. If you call, that means you accept their bet of $5 and are adding another $5 to the pot. If you raise, you can, let’s say, raise $10 and make a total bet of $15.
The action then continues clockwise until it comes back to the last player who raised the bet, which is you in this example, and stops if you decide to check. While the action is in progress, players are allowed to fold, call your bet, or re-raise it.
Different Stages in Poker
Once all active players have placed equal bets in the pot, the round proceeds to the next phase in Texas Hold’em called The Flop. The dealer then deals three community cards that are available to every player who’s still active in the round.
In other words, you can picture it like this — your hand will be comprised of two face down cards and three face up cards on the board. After The Flop, the same procedure occurs and players fold, check, call, or raise. When there is no more action and everyone has bet equally, the next stage begins.
The Turn comes after The Flop, and this time the dealer deals only one face up card. After another round of betting, folding, raising, and whatnot, we enter the last stage called The River where the dealer deals the final face up card. After the betting is finished, active players reveal their cards in order to determine who wins the pot.
One thing to remember is that not every poker hand is played all the way to The River. Poker hands can sometimes end even on Pre-Flop or at any other given time if players fold and there’s only one player left. Therefore, the way you use your money and how much you bet is crucial.
In order to successfully determine the value of the cards you’re holding, you should memorize all Texas Hold’em hands. The list we’ve included goes from the lowest to the highest in terms of value.
- High Card — If you don’t have a combination, the value of your hand is determined by the highest card you hold. In Texas Hold’em, the card with the lowest value is 2 while the Ace is the highest.
- One Pair — By having two matching card ranks, you form a pair. Remember that not every pair is the same. For example, a pair of Kings is higher than a pair of 7’s. In case both players have the same pair, the winner is determined by the kicker, which can be the other card you’re holding. If you have 7/J and the other player has ⅞, while the community cards are 5, 4, 7, 10 and 9, you will win the pot, as J is the highest kicker card. However, if there’s an Ace among community cards, the pot is split in two.
- Two Pairs — Two cards of the same rank with another two cards of the same rank.
- Three of a Kind — In Texas Hold’em, three of a kind is formed by three cards of the same rank.
- Straight — Five cards in a row by rank. For example, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 form a Straight. In Texas Hold’em, the highest possible Straight is 10, J, Q, K, and Ace, while the lowest one is Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5. If both players have a Straight, the player who has the highest ranking card at the end of the Straight sequence wins the pot.
- Flush — Five cards of the same suit. The same rule applies as with every other tie. If two players have the Flush, the one with the highest card in that suit wins.
- Full House — Combination of three cards and two cards of the same rank.
- Four of a Kind — Four cards of the same rank.
- Straight Flush — A combination of a Straight and a Flush. For example, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 of the same suit.
- Royal Flush — The rarest and the most valuable hand in poker. It’s comprised of 10, J, Q, K, and Ace of the same suit.
Variations in Texas Hold’em Poker Types
Now that you know everything there is to know about Texas Hold’em rules, it’s time to go back to types of poker and get a bit more familiar with them by explaining them in detail.
Fixed Limit Poker
As the name suggests, Fixed Limit Poker uses predetermined amounts to determine how much you can bet. This type of poker used to be one of the most popular types among many fans since it limits the amount you can potentially lose. However, it takes a lot of the excitement out of Texas Hold’em as it doesn’t really allow the players to leverage their bankroll and apply pressure.
If you prefer slightly conservative playstyle, here’s what you need to know about Fixed Limit Poker.
If you’re playing, let’s say $10/20 Fixed Limit Poker, the small blind will be $5 while the big blind will be $10. What’s more, depending on the casino you’re playing in, you will have a limit to how many times you can bet per round, which is usually 3 or 4 times.
No Limit Poker
No Limit Poker is undoubtedly the most popular type of poker since this poker version brings a lot of action to the table. The name is self-explanatory — there are no limits when playing the No Limit Poker. In other words, players can bet as much as they want and even go all-in, which means they are betting all of their chips.
Texas Hold’em No Limit Poker has only one requirement — the minimum amount a player can bet needs to be equal to the big blind. So, again, if you’re playing at a $10/20 No Limit Poker table, for example, you will have to bet at least $20 in order to make a raise.
Pot Limit Poker
Pot Limit Poker is often called mixed poker among the fans of Texas Hold’em as it is a mixture of Fixed Limit and No Limit Poker. Namely, the minimum bet you can make needs to be of equal value as the big blind, while the maximum bet you can make is limited by the size of the pot.
If you’re playing at a $10/20 poker table, the minimum amount you can bet will be $20. However, if the pot is, let’s say $100, you will have an option to choose how much you want to bet as long as your bet ranges anywhere from $20 and $100.
Texas Hold’em is the most popular variance of poker for a good reason. The game brings a ton of excitement and allows the players to change their approach with each new round. Whether you’re trying to bluff, play it slow, or make huge pots by going all-in, you are guaranteed to enjoy playing Texas Hold’em.
Hopefully, now that you’ve reached the end of our article, you’ve learned everything you need to know about Texas Hold’em and you are ready to start playing this excellent game.
For those of you who love Blackjack, make sure to check out our in-depth Blackjack Strategy Guide!