How to play Texas Hold’em
How to play Texas Hold’em
As far as poker variants go, Texas Hold’em reigns supreme. Made extremely popular by huge events like the World Poker Tour and World Series of Poker, this is now the go-to choice for poker players, both professionals and beginners. A great introduction for poker newbies, Texas Hold’em is relatively easy to get the hang of and provides the perfect platform to get your head around poker terminology, betting options, gameplay and basic poker strategy.
The Rules of Texas Hold’em
- Amount of Players – two to 10, with a minimum of five players being ideal
- Cards – standard deck of 52 playing cards, excluding jokers.
- Aim of the Game – to play the best five card hand possible in order to win the pot.
- Betting Options – fold (surrender your hand), call (match the current big blind bet to stay in the game) or raise (increase the bet by double the amount of the big blind and stay in the game).
Texas Hold’em is played around a single table and involves one to four betting rounds. A game ends when either the fourth betting round is complete, or if all but one player has folded. The winner is the only remaining player or the player with the hand of the highest value. Games are listed with a minimum and maximum betting limit which are used to secure the starting blind bets.
Texas Hold’em Gameplay
A round of Texas Hold’em is played as follows:
- Blind bets are established by the two players to the left of the dealer. This ensures there is money in the pot for every hand. The player closest to the dealer declares the ‘small blind’ (half the amount of the minimum bet) and the next player declares the ‘big blind’ (the minimum bet).
- The dealer now deals two face down (hole cards) to each player. Players examine their cards and place their bets, deciding whether to fold, call or raise. This is called the ‘pre flop’ betting round. The player left of the player who declared the big blind begins betting, with the betting then continuing clockwise.
- The dealer now discards the top card from the deck (the ‘burn card’) and deals three face-up community cards in the middle of the table. This is called the ‘flop’. These three cards are used by every player in combination with their two hole cards in order to form the best possible hand.
- The next betting round is called ‘the turn’ and all players remaining in the game place their bets. The dealer discards the burn card from the deck and turns over another face-up card to add to the three flop cards. All players now use this community card to add to the value of their hand.
- If two or more players remain in the game, the final round of betting now takes place. The dealer discards another burn card and reveals one final face-up community card (the ‘river’ card) which players use to add to the value of their hand.
- Players place their final bets and reveal their cards. The winner is the player with the highest value five card hand, which can be made up of none, one or both of their hole cards along with the community cards. The winner takes the entire pot, unless two players have hands of equal value in which case the pot is split.
What are the hand rankings in Texas Hold’em?
Hands are valued in Texas Hold’em as follows, in order of lowest to highest:
- High Card – the card of the highest value within a hand, which does not fit in with any other of the hand categories
- One Pair – two cards of matching value, plus three unrelated side cards
- Two Pairs – two separate sets of pairs, plus one unrelated side card
- Three of a Kind – three cards of the same value plus two unrelated side cards
- Straight – five sequentially numbered cards (eg. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 of any suit)
- Flush – five cards of the same suit
- Full House – three of a kind plus two cards of equal value (one pair)
- Four of a Kind – four cards of the same value plus one side card
- Straight Flush – five cards in numerical order, all of the same suit
- Royal Flush – Five highest cards of one suit
Other variations of poker
In no other card game will you find as many variants as in poker, with players spoilt for choice when it comes to different twists on the classic game. Once you’ve familiarised yourself with the basic format of poker, it’s a blast to pick up new rules and game variations. Once you’ve mastered Texas Hold’em, you can move on to such poker variations as Five Card Draw, Seven Card Stud, Omaha Hi/Lo, H.O.R.S.E, Caribbean Stud, Casino Hold’em, Five Card Stud, Razz, Stud Hi/Lo, Badugi and loads more.
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