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Texas Hold’em Rules

If you are new to poker, learning how to play Texas Hold’em is a terrific place to begin. Assuming you are already familiar with poker hand rankings and some basic poker vocabulary, this article is where you can comfortably begin your poker education. Because Hold’em is the most popular poker game in existence and is so easy to learn, it is an ideal starting point for a poker novice.

The goal of Texas Hold’em is to create the best five card poker hand by using a combination of your two hole cards (dealt face down to each player) and the community cards (dealt face up in the center of the table for all players to use). Players may use one, two or none of their hole cards to make up their hands.

In Flop games such as Hold’em (as well as Omaha), there is a small round disc called a dealer button that sits in front of one player at a time. The button rotates clockwise at the completion of each hand and determines the position of the players during the hand.

  1. The two players who are seated to the left of the dealer button must post “blinds” prior to the deal. The blind amounts determine the minimum betting amount once the cards are dealt, and therefore largely determine the overall size of the game. The player sitting directly on the button’s left is required to post the small blind, while the player to their left posts the big blind, which is usually about twice the size of the small blind.
  2. After the blinds are posted, two hole cards are dealt face down to every player. Starting with the person sitting on the big blind’s left, each person has an opportunity to call the minimum bet (equal to the big blind amount), raise the bet to a larger amount, or forfeit their hand by folding. If there is a raise before them, then a player has the option to call this amount, re-raise to a larger amount or fold. The blinds players act last during this initial betting round, and will forfeit their blind amounts if they decide to fold. If the big blind player faces no raise, they have the option to “check” (pass on the action).
  3. After the initial betting round, three face-up community cards then are dealt in the middle of the poker table. Those three cards are called the Flop (all action prior to the Flop is referred to as “preflop action”). A second round of betting now begins, starting now with the first remaining player sitting on the left side of the button and continuing clockwise. Players may check or bet initially, and will have the option to call or raise if bet is made by an opponent.
  4. Now, a single fourth community card is dealt. This card is referred to as the Turn. Another betting round begins just as it did on the Flop. Finally, a fifth shared community card (the River), is placed in the middle of the table. There is one last betting round before a Showdown is reached, in which players compare their holdings to determine a winner. The player holding the best hand receives the pot. The button is then moved one spot clockwise so that another hand can begin.

While there are ways that Texas Hold’em can be played, the two most popular are No Limit and Limit. In No Limit Hold’em (the more popular of the two in recent years), players may make bets or raises in any amount between the minimum required (bets must be at least equal to the big blind and raises have to be at least double the last bet or raise amount) and whatever they have in front of them. When a player wagers their entire chip stack, it is called “going all-in.”

Limit Hold’em, while less popular with modern players, is perhaps a bit easier to start out with because it requires less decision making. In this variation, players may only bet or raise in predetermined increments. The bets during the first two rounds (preflop and after the Flop) are “small bets” and they double to “big bets” for the final two rounds of betting (after the Turn and River). For example, if you were playing $5/$10 Limit Hold’em, you can bet in $5 increments before and immediately after the Flop, and in $10 increments after the Turn and River.

Now that you understand how to play Texas Hold’em, check out our Hold’em Strategy page for some tips on how to maximize your chances of making a profit at the tables.