Texas Holdem Rules

Texas Holdem Poker

Exciting Texas Holdem is undoubtedly the most followed variation of poker, so it’s hard to come across a modern individual who has not heard of it. But, while that’s a source of pure entertainment and thrill for some, others, on the contrary, regard it as an integral part of their lifestyle and identity.

Professionals can generate a regular profit by playing for real funds. Just like in the realm of sports, this industry has its array of luminaries, such as Daniel Negreanu, Tom Dwan, Phil Hellmuth, and other renowned PROs. All of them started their card odyssey from the "dummy" level, meticulously honing their skills through gradual progression and dedication.

Your background and occupation do not matter at all. Whether you hold a Nobel Prize, impersonate Elon Musk, manage a team, or take care of your household, absolutely everyone can learn how to play poker. And if this is your goal, we are here to gladly assist you understand every aspect of the game.

Short Guide to Texas Holdem History

The Wild West and dashing cowboys engaged in intense card games within the walls of dusty saloons are what often come to one's mind when speaking about the origin of poker. Well, this is partly true, but the entertainment of choice during that era was Draw Poker.

The creation of the present-day version is normally credited to a certain T. "Blondie" Forbes, an itinerant poker player. Regarding the timing, this happened in the early 20th century, and to be precise in 1920. The concept of “shared/common cards” emerged, which is a defining characteristic that sets this variety apart from the classic gameplay. And the city of Robstown in Texas is officially acknowledged as an inaugural venue where the discussed game was first played.

TH quickly burst into the hearts of gamblers and found a dedicated following. High-level sharks like Amarillo Slim, Johnny Moss, Doyle Brunson and others became part of the fan group. Being considered the perfect blend of skill and luck, it became the primary tournament format for the WSOP series, ever since its establishment in 1969.

Did you know?
Did you know?

It is easy to guess where the first word in the game’s name came from, but the true origin of the second part remains a mystery. There is a theory that “Holdem” is an abbreviation for "Hold me Darling", a poker variant that was widely popular in the 1850s.


Unveiling Pivotal Betting Structures

Bets are the core of each card game type, including Hold’em and its cousin Omaha Poker. There are three structures, and the only distinction between them is the amount of money one can wager. Here it is important to understand how betting rules work before you join a table.

TypeExplanation
No limit or NLNo restrictions on the maximum bet. You are free to move all-in whenever you see fit.
Pot-limit or PLThe max raise piece is equal to the current size of the pot at a particular point in the hand.
Fixed-limit or FLUp to four raises are allowed within a single betting round.

Particular emphasis in the article is placed on NL Holdem, cause this is the most sought-after version. The main reason behind its popularity lies in the chance to build massive pots, as there are no limitations on raises.

What is the difference between Texas Holdem and Omaha?
What is the difference between Texas Holdem and Omaha?

The key distinction is that gamblers are dealt a total of 4 personal cards, rather than just 2. They must then create a 5-card combo (out of 9 available) using exactly their two starters and 3 elements from the board.

How to Play Texas Holdem Poker

The number of participants in the game is limited to a maximum of 10 people. This type of table is customarily called a "full ring", but there are alternatives: heads-up (one-on-one match); 3, 6, 8 and 9 max.

Your primary goal is to take the entire pot formed during the current hand, getting as many chips as possible.

In Hold'em, each and every one of the gamblers is dealt two cards and nobody sees them, except the holder. They must be combined with the board elements to collect the best possible combo in case of a showdown. Note that you won’t always see all five community cards. Throughout betting rounds (often referred to as "streets"), you can show aggression and bluff in order to end the hand ahead of time. There are a total of four such phases:

  • preflop
  • flop
  • turn
  • river

Positions at the poker table

Your seat has a major impact on how you play your starting cards, as it provides truly vital information. The more we know, the easier it is to find the optimal strategy. Positions are classified into three groups: early, middle and late. Let’s consider seats using a 10-max table as an example:

Texas Holdem Poker Rules

Player to note!
Player to note!

A dealer (otherwise known as a button, BU or BTN) is thought to hold the most favourable position at the table. This person is the last to make a decision on each betting street, being aware of what moves other participants took. BTN receives a special chip with the letter "D" (or inscription "Dealer") on it. With each new match, the chip shifts one seat to the left, allowing all gamblers to take turns being the dealer. This rotation persists, even if you are visiting an offline casino where cards are flipped over by a professional croupier.

Types of Available Actions

Bets serve the purpose of forming a pot, which is every single participant's "prey". They are categorized as mandatory and voluntary.

In the first scenario, two players sitting to the dealer’s left are required to place so-called “blind bets” (in a predetermined amount) – these are small and big blinds, online often abbreviated as SB and BB. Usually big blind is twice as big as small blind. For example, if SB bets 50 cents, then BB should pay 1 dollar (this is the minimum bet in this game). Once the blinds (or their alternative “ante”) are posted, pocket cards are dealt.

In cash games, blind bets are static, while in multi-table tournaments they increase according to a pre-set interval (usually 10-15 minutes) or after a certain number of hands.

To join the action, the next participant needs to post an amount matching BB or raise it. If SB wants to continue to fight for the pot, they must add the required number of chips. But, the first word will be up to them on all subsequent streets.

According to texas hold em rules, users can decide between the following options:

ActionExplanation
BetMaking the initial bet during a single round.
CallMatching the previous participant's bet size.
RaiseIncreasing the prior wager.
CheckSkipping the turn. You pass the word to the next player, remaining in the game without investing any money into the pot. This move is only possible when no one raised the bet in this round.
FoldDeclining further betting, that is, from participation in the current hand. You lose all the chips placed up to that moment.
All-in, shovingThe one who chooses this option adds all their chips to the pot. Failing, they lose everything or a specific amount. In case of triumph, they take the pot.

Card Combinations in Texas Hold 'Em

A poker hand is a qualifying set consisting of 5 cards: starting ones and board. The higher its rank, the more difficult it is to form. Understanding the exact hierarchy of combinations is essential to succeed in poker. Here are all the possible hands you can collect within the game:

  1. High card – a situation where a person has not composed any combo. The five highest rank elements count.
  2. Pair – represents two cards with a similar rank and 3 random ones. For instance, kings (K-K-7-8-J).
  3. Two Pair – an example would be a pair of jacks and a pair of queens (J-J-Q-Q-9).
  4. Three of a kind* – a set of 3 cards sharing the exact rank, e.g. three aces (A-A-A-T-8).
  5. Straight – this combo is comprised of five cards in consecutive order. For example, from 6 to ten (6-7-8-9-T).
  6. Flush – when a gambler collects 5 suited cards of random ranks. A case in point is 8♥-Q♥-T♥-5♥-A♥.
  7. Full House** – this hand combines a triplet and a pair, e.g. T-T-T-9-9.
  8. Four of a kind/ Quads – a scenario where you hold 4 cards that share the same rank plus a random element. For instance, four queens (Q-Q-Q-Q-7).
  9. Straight flush, i.e. five cards in a row by seniority and all of the exact suit. Let’s take for example 7♣-8♣-9♣-T♣-J♣.
  10. Royal flush*** – represents 5 consecutive & suited cards. Note that there is only one option to form this hand: T-J-Q-K-A.
Notations
Notations

* The hand exists in two variations: set and trips. In the first case, a pocket pair and one community card are required. The second scenario involves a pair on the board + one hole card.

** If two rivals have a full house, the one with the stronger triplet wins.

*** The mightiest combination ever. And it is also the rarest one – you can spend your entire life playing TH but never hit a royal flush.

Full NLH 3-Max Hand Example

How do you play Texas Holdem step by step? Let's consider a complete hand with four betting rounds, taking NLH 10/20 cash table as an example.

Number of participants: 3.

Hero is seated on BB with J♠-A♦.

Round 1: preflop
Round 1: preflop

Gamblers on the blinds place their bets. In our case, these are 10 and 20 chips, respectively. Then, all participants receive two pocket cards.

Texas Holdem rules

The initial stage of betting kicks off: UTG player performs first; the last to act are SB and BB.​

Round 2: flop
Round 2: flop

Prior to the second betting phase (flop), three community cards are laid out on the table. Everyone sees them and compares them with the two starters they received earlier in the game.

SB goes first, followed by BB and so on clockwise.

Texas Holdem Poker

Round 3: turn
Round 3: turn

The fourth shared card (turn) is added to the table. Betting proceeds according to the previous scenario.

How to play Texas Holdem

Round 4: river
Round 4: river

The next-to-last stage is the river, that’s when the fifth and final board element shows up. Action rules remain the same. If more than one person is left in the race after the auction ends, the culmination point (showdown) comes down, marking a winner's determination.

Texas Holdem rules

How to Determine a Champion

At this stage, all active players evaluate their hands, and the accumulated pot goes to the one with the strongest combination. Offline, the river betting initiator is the first to reveal their cards, followed by others clockwise. However, gamblers may choose to show their hands "out of turn" if they wish.

When playing online games, a showdown is executed by a computer. The system automatically turns all participants’ cards over and compares them, giving an immediate result.

In our case, both finalists collected a pair of eights, but Hero’s ace kicker secures them victory.

Texas Holdem hand

At this point, the match ends and a new one begins, with the blinds and dealer button shifting rightward.

Tournament poker differences
Tournament poker differences

Unlike cash tables, MTT users strive to win an event. To do this, you need to reach the ITM stage (aka prize zone). If you leave the competition before it starts – on the bubble or earlier – you will receive no rewards. However, the gameplay and betting rules remain unchanged.

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Final Thoughts

The Internet, movies, live broadcasts of cash games and MTTs have made Texas Holdem poker rules most prevalent on the planet. Any newbie is able to quickly grasp the game's nuances. Rules are clear, although it takes immense dedication and effort to transform into a skilled professional.

There are three variations: limit, no limit, and pot limit. They only differ in terms of the betting structure. Positions, combinations, possible actions, rounds, and other aspects remain consistent across all forms. Looking for more exotic alternatives? You might like Badugi and Chinese poker. For detailed information, visit our website's Poker School section.

FAQ
🎉 How do you play Texas Holdem poker for beginners?

Rules are truly simple, and you can learn to play TH from scratch in a few hours. To fully understand the gameplay, of course, one will have to practice regularly. A pack of 52 cards (standard size) is required, and one table can accommodate two to ten gamblers.

Each betting round, participants decide whether to stay in the game or give up fighting for the pot in this hand. For newbies, it's paramount to understand poker hands: their ranking and forming rules. All relevant information is available on our website. We recommend that you start by playing for virtual credits, then test your skills in freerolls and only then move on to real money games.

📌 How does a game of Texas Holdem work?

One hand has 4 rounds or "streets" of betting. Throughout these phases, gamblers form a common pot, which will ultimately be awarded to one or several winners. The action here begins with obligatory bets, namely small and big blinds. This is followed by preflop when participants get hole cards. Subsequently, flop, turn and river are revealed in succession, during which players try to win the pot through their active moves (betting). If there are still multiple people remaining when the last card is shown, collected hands are exposed, determining a champion.

🃏 How many cards do you flip in Texas Holdem?

Each individual makes use of two private and five community cards that appear on the table during the hand. Once a dealer is determined, gamblers receive their starters. This is followed by four streets of betting, during which visible cards are laid out, forming a "board", and bets are placed:

  • flop – the first three shared elements;
  • turn – the fourth card;
  • river – the fifth and last board piece.
🏆 What wins in Texas HoldEm?

According to the rules, the best existing five-card combo ultimately wins on showdown, To complete it, one can combine board pieces along with their personal holdings. Note that pocket cards can be utilised in full, partially, or not used at all.

There are 10 sets of hands in total, and the best one is Royal Flush (unbeatable combination). The suit factor is not taken into account in this game. If you have the same hand as your opponent, but of a different suit, then you simply split the pot equally.

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