Texas Hold’em: A Comprehensive Guide to Mastering the Game

How to play Texas hold'em guide
Reading time: 7 minutes

The Texas Hold’em version of poker is probably one of the most famous versions in the whole world, often being depicted in famous movies and popular TV shows. This is also almost always the go-to version people play when organising a game of poker. The simplicity of the rules and gameplay are big factors for the game being so popular.

In this guide, we’ll go through the basic rules of Texas Hold’em poker, along with commonly used terms in the game and Texas poker hand rankings.

First off, let’s get started with the basics…

The Basics of Texas Hold’em Poker

The objective of poker (not including razz poker) is to have the highest-ranking hand at the table. In Texas Hold’em, this involves creating a hand from two hole cards you are dealt with at the beginning of each round and combining them with community cards that the dealer places face up. The player with the highest hand wins the pot. It’s that simple!

creating a hand from (your) two hole cards…and combining them with community cards…

Texas Hold’em Rules

Texas hold’em poker is a small bit different than draw poker, such as 5-card draw. In draw versions of the card game, you are allowed to exchange a maximum of 3 cards with the dealer’s bundle. In Texas Hold’em you have to play with the cards you are dealt at the start or play across the board with the community cards.

There are also 4 betting rounds. The Preflop (1st round), the Flop (2nd round), the Turn (3rd round), and the River (the final betting round). The Flop consists of three cards being dealt face up, with both the Turn and the River consisting of one card each.

Bets must be placed before the initial 3 community cards are dealt face up (the pre-Flop) and in between the dealing of the Flop, Turn and of the River. Players must bet the number of chips that amount to (call) or exceed (raise) the amount initially set by the ‘big blind’. If a player wants to ‘raise’ this amount, all other players must ‘see’ this new amount before the dealer progresses to dealing the Flop.

How to Play Texas Hold’em

By now you should have a basic overview of how Texas Hold’em works and what the rules are. Now, let’s go through how to play a game more thoroughly.

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  1. The Button: The game starts off with the ‘button’. The button is a large chip placed in front of a random player, who is the acting dealer. This determines the direction of the play. Betting action proceeds clockwise around the table, with action starting to the left of the button.
    Once this is determined, the game can begin with the dealer dealing out hole cards, or pocket cards, to each player. The dealer must deal the cards one by one until each player has two cards. Then the real fun begins…
  2. The Preflop Betting Round: The player who starts off (left of the button) is known as the ‘small blind’. This player opens the ‘pot’ and puts down a certain number of chips, which is usually predetermined. The next player is called the ‘big blind’ and has to double the number of chips the small blind initially opened with. Then the betting continues clockwise around the table, with players putting down a bet, or ‘raising’ the pot. Depending on the game, players can keep ‘raising’ the pot until a player ‘calls’ (equals the bet). If a player decides that they do not want to play, they ‘fold’ and are out of the game. Once every player has decided if they want to play or fold, the dealer can proceed to…
  3. The Flop: After the Preflop betting round, the dealer proceeds to deal three cards face up, which are known as community cards. The dealer must always ‘burn’ one card before dealing 3 initial community cards. Now, a second betting round commences. Along with options to fold, raise, or call, a player has the opportunity to ‘check’. Unless a player is last in the playing sequence, or a ‘blind’, he/she can call ‘check’ which skips their turn and allows them to see which other players are playing the round. The play eventually comes back to a player who previously ‘checked’, at which point they must play or fold before play continues. Like the Preflop round, betting continues until the last bet or ‘raise’ has been called.
    It can also happen here that only one player raises the pot. If no other player wants to call them and they fold, the player who raised the bet takes the pot unchallenged.
    If there is more than one player who hasn’t folded yet, the dealer continues to…
  4. The Turn: The dealer deals the 4th community card face-up (again after burning the top card from the deck). After this, another round of betting occurs, very similar to the previous round. Players have the opportunity to check, bet, call, fold, or raise. Once every player has called, the dealer can proceed to…
  5. The River: The dealer deals the fifth and final community card face up. This precedes a fourth round of betting, similar to the previous betting rounds.
  6. The Showdown: Once players have called the bet, all remaining players now must show their cards. Players must combine their hole cards with 3 of the community cards to produce a winning hand. The player with the best combination of hole cards and community cards, which lead to the highest-ranking hand, wins the pot.

Texas Hold’Em Poker Hand Rankings

Hand rankings in poker are not specific to one version of the game but instead, apply to various different types of poker. When new to poker, remembering the hand ranking can be the hardest part of the game.

You’ll find the different hands in poker, ranked from strongest to weakest below:

Poker hand rankings from strongest to weakest

Common Terms Used in Texas Hold’Em

  • Big Blind – The Big Blind is the player sitting two spots from the button and is required to double the opening bet from the small blind.
  • Bluff – A bluff, or bluffing, is the act of pretending you have either a weaker hand or a stronger hand, depending on which benefits you most.
  • Call – Matching an opponent’s bet without raising it is referred to as ‘calling’. Calling or folding is required to progress the betting round.
  • Check – If a player is unsure whether they want to bet or not, they can ‘check’. If one ‘checks’, the play passes them onto the next player. If other players have made bets, the play will return to this player.
  • Community Cards – The cards dealt face-up by the dealer during the Flop, Turn, and River are known as community cards. They are referred to as community cards as everyone at the table can use them in their own hand.
  • Fold – When you drop out of a round because of bad cards or strategy.
  • Hole cards – Hole cards refer to the cards the dealer deals a player with at the start of the game. They can also be known as ‘pocket cards’.
  • Raise – To ‘raise’ a bet is to increase the previous player’s bet.
  • Rake – The rake is the fee or percentage of the pot a casino or tournament host takes for organising a poker game
  • Small Blind – The small blind is the player positioned to the left of the dealer. The small blind is forced to open the bet, an amount which is usually predetermined by the dealer.

Interested in increasing your poker vocabulary even further? Check out our full poker term glossary to start sounding like a true card shark.

Find Online Casinos to Play Poker Games

Now that you know the basics of poker, it’s time to put your newfound knowledge into action. Texas Hold’em is an easy game to learn initially, but a notoriously difficult game to master. To get good at any type of poker, you are required to practice. Luckily for you, CasinoCrawlers has put together the best online poker sites for you to test yourself.

Alternative Poker Games

There’s many different types of poker games available to play and we’ve made extensive guides for each of them. Find you favourite variant below:

Did You Know…

The Texas Legislature officially recognizes Robstown, Texas as the official birthplace of Texas Hold’em poker. This is almost the only information about the origins of the game.

After the popularity of the game had spread throughout the state of Texas, it was introduced to Las Vegas in 1963 by a man called Corky McCorquodale. The rest, as they say, is history.

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The Bottom Line

Texas hold’em poker is a simple game to learn, but a hard game to master. The only way to get good is to practice.

Our guide to Texas Hold’em should provide you with the skills to get started in the poker world. Once you know the basics, you can then learn about strategies and bluffing, and spotting tells in your opponent. We recommend starting off by playing on free-to-play games to practice. This helps you to familiarise yourself with the hands and betting structure, and gain experience.

Once you become confident enough, then you can advance to real money games.

References:

  • IMDB. “The 10 Best Poker Movies Ever”, https://www.imdb.com/list/ls070297813/
  • Wikipedia. “Texas hold’em”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_hold_%27em#:~:text=Although%20little%20is%20known
    %20about,California%20Club%20by%20Corky%20McCorquodale.
  • Youtube. “PokerVIP -How to Play Poker – Texas Holdem Rules Made Easy”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAoR9ji8D6A
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Noah Adams
Noah Adams
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Noah is the senior content editor at CasinoCrawlers and a writer with many iGaming articles under his portfolio. Therefore, he is skilled at writing bonus guidelines, gambling strategies, and casino reviews. During his spare time, he enjoys playing Call of Duty and is a huge rugby fan.

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