Texas Hold’em Poker is, without a doubt, the most popular poker variant in the world. Since 1970, a $10,000 no-limit Texas Hold’em tournament has been the main event of the World Series of Poker, offering the event’s largest prize and the coveted gold bracelet. Texas Hold’em poker offers players intrigue and challenge, while also being accessible and fun to play.

Over the course of this page, you’ll learn how to play Texas Hold’em Poker, the different kinds of bets you can make, some strategies you can implement, and where you can play this famous game online.

What is Texas Hold’em Poker?

There are many different poker variants out there, but Texas Hold’em is currently one of the most popular online. In this game, each player seeks to get the best five-card hand from any combination of seven cards in play; five community cards and two hole cards.

How to Play Texas Hold’em Poker

Texas Hold’em Poker is a game that is easy to learn but difficult to master. Every round of every game against every opponent is a different experience, and while the game itself may not change mechanically, there is a much higher emphasis on being able to read your opponents and outmaneuver them than in other varieties of poker.

Despite the tension and drama of the game, Texas Hold’em Poker is fairly straightforward. If you already know how to play Omaha Poker, you should have a good grasp on how to play it.

Texas Holdem Poker Rules

If you’re new to Texas Holdem poker, learning the basics can be a bit overwhelming at first. There are lots of different terms you need to understand, like blinds, flop, turn, the river. Not to mention, the gameplay can be fast and a bit intimidating if you’re not a seasoned pro. 

Our guide should help you through the basics, giving you the confidence you need when you decide to step up to the table. Read on for a step-by-step overview of the rules and gameplay.

Step 1 - Choose a dealer

Texas Hold’em Poker uses a circular disc known as The Button to determine who is acting as the dealer. Unlike in other types of poker, this designation does not specifically mean the person who is dealing the cards; rather, it used to keep track of who opened the betting, and who is responsible for which bets. With every new betting round, The Button moves one player to the left.

Step 2 - Set the blinds

The player to the left of whoever has The Button at the start of the game is responsible for setting the small blind. In turn, the player to their left is responsible for setting the big blind. The big blind is double the cost of the small blind, and will dictate what the buy-in for the game is. The blinds are set so that the game has stakes for all players - otherwise, players could just fold as much as they wanted without any sort of consequence.

Step 3 - Deal the cards

Next, every player is dealt two “hole” cards. In Texas Hold’em Poker, hole cards don’t necessarily have to be used, but they are the sole resource in the game that is player-specific.

Step 4 - The Pre-Flop

After all players receive their cards, there is a round of betting. Players can check (defer betting until later in the round), call (match the bet amount of a previous player), raise (increase the bet) or fold (leave the game and discard their cards).

It may be surprising, but there are a lot of players that fold during the pre-flop; if you think your hole cards are weak, there’s no reason to keep escalating how much money you’ve added to the game. Players will only know when to keep their hand and when to fold it though the experience gained by playing.

Step 5 - The Flop

When the betting round is finished, three community cards are dealt face up in the middle of the table. This starts the real crux of Texas Hold’em Poker: using their hole cards and the available community cards, what is the best hand that a player can make according to normal poker hand rankings, and is it good enough to beat the hands of other players?

Once the flop is dealt, there is another round of betting. There are two small differences between pre-flop and post-flop betting rounds: the first player to act is the first player still with a hand to the left of the dealer, and whichever player acts first can check or bet; calling is free, as there has not been a bet made for the round.

Step 6 - The Turn

The Turn is very similar to The Flop. One new community card is added to the current collection, giving players six cards to make their hands. As with The Flop, once the card is added there is another round of betting.

Step 7 - The River

As with The Turn, The River features an additional community card being added to the middle of the table, now giving any remaining players a total of seven cards with which to construct the strongest possible hand. After the last card is added, the final round of betting occurs.

Step 8 - The Showdown

If there are at least two players left in the hand, The Showdown happens. This is where players turn over their hole cards and reveal who has the stronger five-card hand. If there happens to be a tie, players split the pot.

Many games of Texas Hold’em Poker never make it to The Showdown, as a winner can also be determined if everyone else in the game folds. It is in pursuit of this outcome where a lot of the game’s intrigue comes from, as a player does not need to have the best hand at the table in order to win.

 

Situational Rules in Texas Hold’em Poker

Like any poker game, there are circumstances that arise that may require special rules or considerations. Here are a few of the situations that may come up in Texas holdem poker.

No Showdown

Sometimes a round of Texas Holdem will end without any players showing their cards at all. The hand ends when a player bets and the other players decide to fold their cards. If this happens, there’s no need for a showdown. The person who didn’t fold wins the pot.

Tie Game

At the showdown, if two or more players turn over equal hands, then it results in what’s known as a ‘chop’. This means all the chips get divided equally among players that have the best hands. 

Starting a New Game

To determine which players get the button and blinds, each player is dealt one card. Whoever has the highest value card gets the button to start. In the event that the same value card is drawn, the winner is determined by the suit of the cards in order; spades are high followed by hearts, diamonds and clubs

Variations of Texas Hold’em Poker

One of the best things about poker is that there are tons of variations of games you already know and love to keep things fresh. Texas Hold’em Poker is no exception; whether you want to have more opportunities to create strong hands, add betting rounds, or just put an interesting twist on the formula, there’s a variation out there for you to try.

Omaha

Is Omaha a variation of Texas Hold’em Poker, or is it its own community card game? No matter where you fall within that argument, it can’t be denied that the two games are incredibly similar. The biggest differences between Omaha and Texas Hold’em is that in the former, players get four hole cards, and they must use two of those cards and three community cards to make their hands.

Pineapple Hold’em

Like Omaha, Pineapple Hold’em offers a change in how hole cards work. There are three main varieties: regular Pineapple Hold’em, Crazy Pineapple and Lazy Pineapple, though mechanically they are almost identical. In each version, you get three hole cards, with the twist being that you’ll need to discard one of them. This comes at a different point in the game depending on which version you’re playing: before The Flop in regular Pineapple, after The Flop in Crazy Pineapple, and after The River in Lazy Pineapple.

Speed Hold’em

Speed Hold’em is similar to Omaha in that you initially get four hold cards, but you need to discard two before The Flop. Additionally, all five community cards are added at once, during The Flop, so there are no Turn and River phases.

Betting Limits

Texas Hold’em Poker is played as either limit, pot limit, or no limit.

In Limit Hold’em, bet sizes are dictated by the game’s rules. The size of the bets on the first two rounds are half the bets on the last two rounds.

In Pot Limit Hold’em, bet sizes are dictated by the size of the pot. You can bet or raise the size of the current pot, but you can’t raise it any higher than that.

In No Limit Hold’em, there are no limits to how you can bet. So long as you have money on the table, you can bet or raise as much as you’d like.

Hand Rankings in Texas Hold’em Poker

Texas holdem poker follows the same hand ranking as many other popular poker games. If you’re new to this variation but not to poker itself, you should feel right at home. Here are the best hands in Texas holdem starting with the lowest-ranked:

  • High Card - also known as ace high. This hand is comprised of five unmatched cards with Ace being the highest ranking card you could get.
  • One pair - two cards, same rank
  • Two pairs - two sets of two cards of the same rank 
  • Three of a Kind - three cards of the same rank
  • Straight - five cards in consecutive order
  • Flush - five cards of the same suit
  • Full House - three cards of the same rank and a pair
  • Four of a Kind - four cards of the same rank
  • Straight Flush - five cards of the same rank and suit in consecutive order

What is the Best Hand in Texas Holdem?

Finally, the very best hand you could possibly get in Texas Holdem is a Royal Flush. This hand is comprised of five cards, all the same suit and ranked Ace through 10 (A-K-Q-J-10).

Betting Actions in Texas Holdem

The betting actions in Texas Holdem Poker are similar to other poker games. Here are the possible betting actions you could take:

  • Open - this is the opening bet that starts the round of a poker hand.
  • Fold - to forfeit your interest in the current pot. 
  • Check - pass an action to the next player, but keep your cards.
  • Call - when you call a bet, you essentially match the amount that has been wagered by another player.
  • Raise - this is the action you take if you want to increase the opening bet. When you raise, you either have a strong hand, or you’re trying to bluff.

Texas Hold’em Poker Strategies

Texas Hold’em Poker is a unique game based just as much on reading your opponents and reacting to situations as it is which cards are available to you. While there is no substitute for experience, there are some general strategies that you should follow if you want to get the most out of every game.

Players will often tell you that the best strategy for winning at Texas Holdem poker is to simply practice. The more you play, the more you’ll learn the nuances of the game. That said, there are a few things even absolute beginners can learn that will help them improve their game on the spot.

#1 - Play your hands well

This seems like a no brainer, but what we actually mean is be selective in which hands you play. Sticking with strong hands and playing those hands aggressively will help you. Weak hands won’t get you very far.

#2 - Learn which hands to play pre and post-flop

The secret to becoming a superior Texas Holdem player is to know which starting hands to play.

#3 - Vary your playing styles

Poker is a head game as much as it is a card game. By switching up your playing styles it keeps your opponents from figuring out any of your common tells. This is especially handy if you’re playing poker with the same group often. Remember, you want to keep your poker face on.

Best Pre-Flop Starting Hands

It’s easy to spot high hands pre-flop. Simply look for Aces, Kings and Queens. Some of the best starting hands pre-flop are:

  • Pocket Aces - this is the starting hand that everyone wants to get.
  • Pocket Kings - Another strong hand to begin with
  • Pocket Queens - certainly another strong starting hand. There’s the chance your opponents will have Kings or Aces but this is still a strong hand to start with.
  • Ace-King - this strong hand is even stronger if you have them in the same suit.
  • Pocket Jacks - Be cautious if an ace comes up, but this is also a great starting hand to have. 

Texas Holdem Poker: 4 Expert Tips

Don’t Be Afraid to Fold

We’ve mentioned it earlier, but if you think a hand is not particularly good, if you are in a disadvantageous betting position, or you’re not sure whether to keep playing, you should fold. Knowing when to fold can help you minimize your losses and save bankroll for games where you can play more aggressively.

Don’t Play Every Hand

Similarly, there will be some hands you are dealt in The Pre-Flop that are just absolutely not worth playing. As opposed to trying to chase the potential the community cards might offer, stay patient and fold if you get cards outside of your range. Remember: not even the pros can win every hand.

Study Winning Poker Hands

There’s a lot to learn about Texas Hold’em Poker that you can only learn specifically by playing, but since the game uses the same hand ranking structure as all other types of poker, you should put time into studying which card combinations could be part of which hands. If you make it to The Showdown, the game will hinge not on who manages to out-bluff who, but who actually has the better hand, so you should put yourself in a position where you have the best one.

Have Fun Playing

Texas Hold’em Poker can be a high-stakes, tense game, but it is still a game. If you mis-read an opponent or make the wrong decision and lose, you might get upset, and that might make it harder for you to keep playing with the patience and calm that the game requires. The fact is that the majority of the people at the table will lose; don’t let it ruin your enjoyment of the game.

Where to Play Texas Hold’em Poker Online

Due to it being such a popular type of poker, you should have little trouble finding a quality online casino or poker room that allows you to play Texas Hold’em Poker. However, because it is typically played for real money (and given what a key part of the game the rounds of betting are), it might take a bit of searching to find a Texas Hold’em Poker free game. If you do find a game that allows you to play for free, you may wish to use it as a learning opportunity in addition to the fun it provides, as one of the bigger challenges of the regular game, bankroll management, becomes a non-issue.

Before you sign up to play Texas Hold’em Poker we recommend looking at a number of different online casinos and poker rooms and choosing the best one for you. Some may have some really strong tournament options, while others may give you access to helpful bonuses. You should also ensure that your preferred banking method is available to use, and with a minimum deposit you’re comfortable with making.

Many poker rooms require that players download stand-alone software in order to play at them, whereas online casinos typically allow play through a web browser. Whether you’re playing a Texas Hold’em Poker free game or for real money, both playing through software and playing online are mostly the same. However, you should also ensure that your devices are compatible with the poker room or casino you wish to play at. If you plan on playing a lot on the go, you likely don’t want to play at a poker room that only offers desktop software.

Texas Hold’em Poker FAQ

Is Texas Holdem the same as poker?

Texas Hold'em is a type of poker, but as it is a community card game, it is not played quite the same as other types. The biggest differences between Texas Hold'em and other variations of poker is that there is a defined order of play, and there are community cards that players can use to make better hands than the hole cards they are dealt would allow.

What are the 3 types of poker?

The three types of poker are draw poker, stud poker, and community card games. Draw poker allows players to discard cards from their hands and draw new ones; stud poker involves players using a fixed number of hole and face-up cards, without the ability to discard or add additional cards. Lastly, community card games, including Texas Hold'em Poker and Omaha, add additional community cards across rounds of betting so players may build stronger hands.

Do you have to use both your cards in Texas Holdem?

When playing Texas Hold'em Poker, you aren't required to use either of your hole cards. Not using your hole cards means that you have to make a hand out of the available community cards, which is more often disadvantageous than not. If the best hand available is contained within the community cards, there's nothing stopping multiple players from choosing that hand and having the game end in a tie.

Is it hard to learn Texas Holdem?

Texas Hold'em Poker is not particularly difficult to learn to play, as it is still a version of poker and still uses the same hand rankings as other variants. However, it can be incredibly hard to master; every game is unique, each opponent is unique, and you'll need to play, practice, study, and develop your game sense to better understand what to do in any given situation.

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