Texas Holdem poker is one of the most popular poker games people play at home and in casinos. Once you learn how to play Texas Holdem poker, you will discover just how fun this game truly is and why so many people enjoy it. Once you master the basics, you will be all set to start hosting a weekly poker game at your house.
What Is Texas Holdem Poker?
Texas Holdem is the most popular variation of poker. It is a community card game where players share some of their cards to make the best possible five-card hand. Players are dealt two “hole” cards and then take turns betting on the strength of their hands as they are dealt three face-up “community” cards and two additional face-down “pocket” cards which can be used in combination with the community cards. The player with the best five-card hand wins the pot at showdown.
What Is Needed to Play Texas Holdem?
To play Texas Holdem, you will need a deck of at least 52 cards, chips, or some other form of currency to act as stakes and at least two players. It is also helpful to have an understanding of the rules and basic strategies of poker before playing. Additionally, having a professional poker table is beneficial when playing Texas Holdem.
What Are the Rules of Texas Holdem?
The basic rules of Texas Holdem are as follows:
- The game is usually played with a minimum of two players and a maximum of ten.
- Each player is dealt two hole cards face down. This is followed by a round of betting where players can call, raise, or fold their hands.
- Three community cards (the flop) are then dealt face up in the middle of the table for all to see. Another round of betting takes place before the fourth community card (the turn) is revealed and yet another round of betting occurs after that.
- Finally, the fifth community card (the river) is revealed and one last round of betting occurs before all remaining players go to showdown and reveal their hands to determine who has won the pot.
What Are the Different Texas Holdem Hands?
To win Texas Holdem, you have to have the best hand at the end of the game. The different Texas Holdem hands from highest to lowest are:
- Royal Flush – A, K, Q, J, 10 all of the same suit
- Straight Flush – Any five consecutive cards of the same suit
- Four of a Kind – Four cards of the same rank
- Full House – Three-of-a-kind and a pair
- Flush – Any five non consecutive cards of the same suit
- Straight – Five consecutive cards in any suit
- Three of a Kind -Three cards with identical ranks (e.g., three 7s)
- Two Pair – Two sets of pairs (e.g., two jacks and two 9s)
- One Pair –Two cards with identical rank (e.g., two 4s)
- High Card – A card that is higher than any other card in your hand but does not form part of any winning combination (e.g., an ace)
What Are the Different Seating Positions?
In Texas Holdem poker, there are typically nine different seating positions:
- Small Blind – The player seated to the left of the dealer who is required to make a bet before any cards are dealt.
- Big Blind – The player seated two seats left of the dealer who is required to make a larger bet than the small blind before any cards are dealt.
- Under-the-Gun (UTG) – The first player to act after the blinds have been posted.
- Middle Position (MP) – Players seated in between UTG and late position.
- Cutoff (CO) – The player one seat right of the button.
- Button (BTN) – The last position at the table. This seating position has positional advantage over everyone else at all times. The button will also serve as the dealer when there is not a dedicated dealer.
- LoJack or Hijack – The third seat from the button.
- Early Position (EP) – These players act earliest in each hand and thus often put themselves at a disadvantage by not having as much information about their opponents’ hands as those in later positions do.
- Late Position (LP) – The last few seats at the poker table, usually near to and right of the dealer button. Players in late position have an advantage as they can see how their opponents act before deciding whether or not to bet, raise, or fold. This gives them a better idea of what their opponents may be holding, allowing for better decision-making when it comes time for betting and the showdown.
How to Play Poker: Texas Holdem Betting
Betting is a key part of Texas Holdem. Each player has several options on their turn, depending on what previous players have decided to do, as follows:
- Call – Match the current bet.
- Raise – Increase the current bet by double or more.
- Fold – Leave the game without making any additional bets.
- Check – After the pre-flop, players have the option to check, which allows them not to place a bet but to remain in the game only if previous players have also checked.
- All-In – A player places all of their chips into the pot. However, if subsequent players continue to raise, the all-in player will only win the number of chips in the pot when they called all-in.
How to Play Poker: Texas Holdem Rounds
Starting the Game
Before any cards are dealt, the players in the small blind and big blind positions must place mandatory bets. The small blind is usually half the big blind bet. For example, in a $5/$10 game, the small blind bet is $5, and the big blind bet is $10.
Next, the dealer will shuffle the cards and deal two hole cards to each player face down starting with the player seated in the small blind position. Deal continues around the table clockwise until each player has their two cards.
The first round of betting takes place after all players have been dealt their two hole cards. Players are allowed to look at their cards before placing their bet. Betting starts with the person seated to the left of the big blind player. Players may choose to call (match the current bet), raise (increase the current bet), or fold (give up any chance at winning that particular pot).
Once all betting has been completed, the game moves to the flop stage. This is where the dealer deals the first three community cards. They start off by dealing the top card face down onto the table, which is called burning a card. Next, they deal three cards face up on the table.
Another round of betting begins with the player to the left of the button player and goes around the table clockwise. During the flop stage, players can now check (remain in the game without betting) as long as no other player has called or raised. Should a player call or raise after a player checks, the player who checked will need to call, raise, or fold when play comes back around the table.
Following the flop, the dealer burns another card, and the fourth community card is revealed. Players will progress through another round of betting with similar rules as before.
The river is where the dealer will burn another card, and then reveal the fifth and final community card. All players left in the game, at this point, will progress through the final round of betting.
All players still in the game after the river now flip over their two hole cards. Their objective is to make the best possible five-card hand using their two hole cards and the five community cards. Whoever has the best winning hand wins the pot.
All cards are collected from the table and shuffled. The button, small blind, and big blind positions all move one player to the left. So the small blind player becomes the button, the big blind player becomes the small blind, and the player to the left of the big blind player is now the big blind. Then, the next hand begins.
What Happens When There Is a Tie?
Should two or more players have the same five-card hand at the showdown, the pot is split evenly between the players. However, if players are tied with less than five cards, for instance, two pairs, then the player who has the kicker—the highest hole card that is not part of their hand—wins the pot.
In the event there is still a tie because the players do not have a kicker or their kickers are the same value, then the pot is split between the players.
Tips for Playing Texas Holdem
- Learn the rules and basics of poker.
- Understand the different betting rounds.
- Have a good understanding of odds and probabilities.
- Know when to fold and when to stay in a hand.
- Do not be afraid to bluff at times but use it sparingly.
- Pay attention to your opponents’ betting patterns and body language.
- Try to remain calm even if you are having a bad run of cards or hands.
How to Play Texas Holdem at Home
Playing Texas Holdem at home can be a great way to have fun with family and friends. The first step is to find the right equipment, including cards, chips, and a professional poker table. You can also liven up the fun by enjoying beverages and snacks during the game.
Then decide whether you want to play for real money or just for fun. If playing for money, make sure everyone agrees on the stakes beforehand.
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