Beginners Guide: Learn to play Texas Hold’em Poker
Texas Hold’em is a relatively simple game to learn. It’s based on the same premise and hand-ranking system of traditional 5-card poker games, but utilizes more cards per player, and a communal sharing of those cards.
The following is a beginner’s guide to Texas Hold’em. We’ll teach you how to play the game and assess hand ranks. We will not, however, be covering limit structures. You can learn more about those here:
How to Play Texas Hold’em
Texas Hold’em is played with a standard deck of 52-cards (no jokers), by anywhere from 2-10 players.
Certain positions at the table are designated with rotating titles. The dealer position rotates left around the table with each new hand, and is signified by a Dealer Button. The player left of the dealer is the Big Blind, and the player left of them is the Small Blind.
Before any cards are dealt:
For example, if the stakes are $1/$2, the Big Blind is $1, and the Small Blind $0.50.
Dealing the Cards
Starting with the player to his left, the dealer will deal one card at a time to each player until all participants have two cards. These are called Hole Cards. Each player may look at their own hole cards, but may not show them to anyone else.
Betting Round #1
The first round of betting takes place. The big blind bettor has already made a full bet, so actions tart with the small blind. The small blind bettor may choose to fold, call the big blind (add enough chips to the small blind to equal the big blind), or raise. Each player thereafter may fold, call or raise the previous bet. The betting round ends once all players have folded or called the highest bet/raise.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Any player who folds is no longer active in the hand. If at any time all other players fold, leaving a sole player active in the hand, that player instantly wins the pot. The hand is over. The dealer button moves to the left, and the new dealer will collect and shuffle the cards. Blind bets are placed, and a new hand is dealt.
The dealer will burn one card from the top of the deck, setting it aside face down. Then, three cards are dealt face up to the center of the table. These are the first three of five community cards, known as the Flop.
Each player will assess his hand by combining his own hole cards with the community cards to make up a hand.
Betting Round #2
Another betting round takes place, starting with the first active player left of the dealer. Since no bets have yet been placed in this round, the first to act may check or bet. To check is to place no bet, but remain active in the hand. If a player checks, the next player may also check or bet. If any player places a bet, all other players must either call or raise (including those who previously checked), or fold their hand.
The dealer will burn another card, then deal the fourth community card—aka the Turn—to the center of the table.
Betting Round #3
Another round of betting takes place, same as the last.
After burning one more card, the dealer will place the fifth and final community card—the River—face up with the other community cards.
Betting Round #4
A final round of betting takes place.
If two or more players remain active in the hand at this point, all active players will reveal their cards. The highest ranking 5-card poker hand (made up of the 7 cards available; player’s hole cards and community cards) wins the pot. In the case of an exact tie (see below), the tying players will split the pot evenly.
Winning Texas Hold’em: Hand Ranks
Texas Hold’em rules apply standard 5-card poker hand ranks. If two players have the same hand, such as Two Pair, Kings and Jacks, the next highest card (aka the Kicker) decides the winner. The following is a list of all possible hands, ranked highest to lowest.
- Royal Flush
- Straight Flush
- Four of a Kind
- Full House
- Three of a Kind
- Two Pair
- High Card
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