In this article, I will introduce you to the basic rules of the card game Texas Holdem and show you how to play. The objective of Texas Hold’em is to be the last player standing.
Each player is given an equal number of chips. Give one player the dealer button. This tracks who the dealer is. The player to the left of the dealer receives the small blind and the next player to the left receives the big blinds. When there are two players left in the game the dealer is the small blinds and the other player is the big blinds.
Texas Holdem uses a standard 52-card deck of playing cards without Jokers. Shuffle the deck and deal two cards face down to each player. These are called your hole cards or pocket cards. You may look at these but do not show them to other players. If the first or second card dealt is exposed then this is considered a misdeal. The dealer retrieves the card, reshuffles the deck and cuts the cards. If any more whole cards are exposed due to a dealer error the deal continues as usual.
After completing the deal, the dealer replaces the exposed card with the top card on the deck and the exposed card is then used as a burn card. If more than one hole card is exposed, a misdeal is declared by the dealer and the hand is dealt again from the beginning. A misdeal is also declared if a player receives more than two hole cards by mistake.
Big and small blinds
After the cards are dealt the player to the left of the big blind is the first to act during the first round of betting. If any players call the big blind the big blind is then given an extra opportunity to raise. This is known as the live blind. If the live blind checks the betting round then ends. Generally, the big blind is equal to the minimum bet. The small blind is normally half the big blind. If the small blind is an impractical half number round down.
The blinds exist when playing without antes. If you choose to play without blinds then the minimum bet is then the lowest denomination chip in play. Tossing only one chip is considered as a call, anything higher than that is considered a raize. Poker without blinds is usually played with everyone posting an ante to receive cards.
Head-to-head Texas Holdem
When only two players remain special head-to-head or heads-up rules are enforced and the blinds are posted differently. The person with the dealer button posts the small blind while his opponent places the big blind. The dealer acts first before the flop. After the flop, the dealer acts last and continues to do so for the remainder of the hand.
The three most common variations of Hold’em are Limit Hold’em, No-Limit Hold’em and pot Limit Hold’em. The game style should be decided before the play begins.
In Limit Hold’em bets and raises during the first two rounds of betting, the preflop and the flop, must be equal to the big blind. This amount is called the small bet. In the next two rounds of betting, the turn and the river bets and raises must be equal to twice the big blind. This amount is called the big bet.
In No-Limit Hold’em players may bet or raise any amount over the minimum raise up to all the chips the players have at the table called an all-in bet. The minimum raise is equal to the size of the previous bet or raise. If someone wishes to re-raise they must raise at least the amount of the previous raise.
For example: if the big blind is 2 and there is a raise of 6 to a total of 8 a re-raise ace must be at least six or more. If a raise or re-raise is all-in and does not equal the size of the previous raise the initial raiser cannot re-raise again.
In pot-limit hold’em the maximum raise is the current size of the pot including the amount needed to call.
After the deal when each player has received their hole cards, you enter the preflop betting round. The player left of the big blind or left of the dealer if no blinds are being used starts by either a check bet or fold. A round of betting continues until every player has folded. Put in all their chips or match the amount put in by all the other active players.
Check means you don’t raise or fold but instead, pass on your turn. If another player bets after you check then you’ll be forced to bet once plague gets back around to you.
Anytime all but one player folds, the hand ends and the last player takes the pot. If there are still players active when all the betting is finished the dealer discards the top card of the deck face down called a burn and then deals three face-up community cards in the middle of the table. This is called the flop and is followed by a second round of betting. This and all subsequent betting rounds begin with the player to the dealer’s left and continue clockwise.
Flop and river
After the flop betting round ends the dealer burns the top card. Then, he deals a single face-up community card called the turn or fourth street to the middle of the table. This is followed by a third betting round. Then the dealer burns the top card from the deck and deals a final single community card called the river or fifth Street face up to the middle of the table. This is followed by a fourth betting round and then the showdown if necessary.
In the third and fourth betting rounds, the stakes double. If player bets and all other players fold then the remaining player is awarded the pot and is not required to show their hole cards. If two or more players remain after the final betting round a showdown occurs.
On the showdown, each player plays the best poker hand they can make from the seven cards comprising their two hole cards and the five community cards. A player may use any number of their hole cards to form their final five-card hand.
If the five community cards form the player’s best hand the player with the highest five-card poker hand rank wins the pot. If the best hand is tied by more than one player then the pot is split equally among them. Any extra chips going to the first player after the dealer in the clockwise order.
It is common for players to have closely valued but not identically ranked hands. If the hand involves fewer than five cards such as two pair or three of a kind then kickers and extra cards in your hand are used to settle the tie. The highest kicker settles the tie. The card’s numerical rank is of sole importance, suit types are irrelevant. All the cards are gathered together and shuffled and the dealer rotates rolls by one clockwise. When you run out of chips you are limited from the game.
More About Texas Holdem
To read about how poker hands rank you can go to this article: https://www.mircic91.com/how-poker-hands-rank/
That should help you understand the most important rule of Texas Holdem.
Here is one of my texas holdem SNAP tournament gameplay videos:
For a more advanced tutorial with tips, I strongly recommend this book from one of the greatest poker players Daniel Negreanu called ‘Hold’em Wisdom for All Players’. When you learn the basic rules of the game this book is the very next thing you should read.
For a live play of the game Texas Holdem it is pretty much essential to have a set of chips, cards, and tokens. I recommend having one complete pack of all the things you need for the game than separate items that you will always lose when you need them.
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