Basic rules of Texas Holdem Poker
Basic Rules of Texas Hold’em
This popular variation of poker is to be played between two to nine players using a standard deck of 52 cards which are shuffled automatically prior to every deal. This game begins with every player being dealt with two-hole cards face-down (visible to only the respective players). Later on, a total of five community cards are dealt face-up at the center of the table in three rounds of gameplay, such that all players can see these shared cards.
As a player wanting to win this Texas Hold’em game, you aim to form the best possible five-card poker hand from any of the seven cards (the two hole cards in your hand and the five community cards on the table). You simply have to form this best hand according to the poker hand rankings, and if you manage to do so, you get the money in the pot.
Before you proceed further to understand the various Texas Hold’em Poker rules, you need to get an understanding of the Texas hand rankings so that you have complete clarity on which cards in your hand and on the center table can help you to win in Texas Hold’em poker. For this purpose, you can check out the top ten Poker hand rankings as discussed on the poker rules page.
Possible Actions with Cards in Texas Hold’em Poker
Let us understand the flow at the start of a Texas Hold’em Poker game, where your aim is to win Texas Hold’em Rules hands.
- A dealer button (disc) is used at the start of every hand to determine the players who will place the ‘small blind’ bet and the ‘big blind’ bet initially. This dealer shall switch at the end of every hand and the dealer button shall move clockwise to the next player. This is handled automatically when you play Texas Hold’em online (at a platform like Spartan Poker) or in a casino.
- Once the two compulsory/forced bets are placed by the two players seated immediately to the left of the dealer, every player is dealt two cards face-down in the form of pocket cards/hole cards. The blinds are supposed to be placed before any cards are dealt out, in order to ensure that there are chips in the pot to play for.
Once the action starts on the table in the clockwise direction in a game of Texas Hold’em poker, your chance is not far away. When you get your chance to play, you can take any one of the following possible actions on the basis of the action taken by the previous players (in a similar way as for other variants of poker):
This action of checking indicates your refusal to bet (or open the betting). You can check only when there is no bet in the existing round and the action opportunity gets passed to the next person in a clockwise direction for that hand. In this case, you keep the cards with you.
As the name suggests, this action refers to the act of you forfeiting your cards and withdrawing any possibility of you taking any action in the existing hand. You give up the opportunity to win the current hand and wait for the next deal.
You can choose to ‘raise’ and match the highest bet as well as put in a greater bet amount. The subsequent players are then supposed to call the ‘raise’ (match the highest bet which will be the amount placed for the raised bet) or ‘raise again’ (put a bet higher than the highest bet till then) in order to stay in that hand.
You can choose to ‘call’ and match the highest bet to stay alive in the hand. Here, you can bet if your opponents have placed bets during the current round.
You can choose to ‘bet’ even if no other players have chosen to ‘bet’ in the existing round. Once you opt to ‘bet’ and place the first chips for the pot in a betting round, your opponent players have to ‘call’ by matching the amount of your bet if they intend to stay in the hand. For example, in the first betting round, the Big Blind places the first ‘bet’ in the pot.
Imagine a situation where you are out of chips, but you have a hand that can easily win that round. Will you feel good to fold your cards during such a round? Absolutely not. This is where you can use the option of ‘All-in’ where the pot gets divided into the main pot and a side pot. Now, any additional chips after you go ‘all-in’ are added to the side pot.
If you turn out to be the winner, the main pot goes to you, and the second-best hand will get the side pot. If some other player (who didn’t opt for all-in) turns out to be the winner, he/she will win both the main pot and the side pot. In case of multiple players going for all-ins, multiple side pots will be created.
Different Betting Rounds
Now that you have understood the actions to be taken when your turn arrives on the table for a Texas Hold’em Poker game, you can learn about the various betting rounds and how you can play them to win Hold’em Poker hands as per corresponding Ultimate Texas Hold’em rules applicable below:
Before the actual betting round begins, you have a round where money/chips are collected in the pot. You won’t have any motivation to win the hand if there are no chips in the pot and you would tend to fold more frequently, isn’t it?
For this purpose, two players on the table are made to place forced / compulsory bets initially. But, prior to that, a dealer button is used to decide the order of play in a particular hand. This button moves to the player on the left at the end of each hand. The player who sits immediately clockwise from the dealer (one with the ‘marker button’ or the ‘dealer button’ or ‘button’) has to place the first forced bet – known as the ‘small blind’ (which is generally equivalent to the lower end of the table). The next clockwise player from the small blind player will be the player who is forced to post a ‘big blind’ (usually equivalent to the higher end of the table), which is typically twice the overall size of the ‘small blind’.
The overall size of these blinds will determine the stakes of the poker game you would play.
This is the betting round that kickstarts once all the players are dealt with the hole cards but are yet to receive any of the community cards. As mentioned above, in this round, the first bet is placed by the Big Blind into the pot, and the round starts from the player situated to the left of the Big Blind. This player can ‘call’ the amount placed by the Big Blind or can ‘raise’ and increase the bet amount or can choose to ‘fold’.
You cannot opt for ‘check’ in the first betting round that begins with the player seated to the left of the Big Blind. This is because there is a bet already placed by the Big Blind and so you have to match that bet if you wish to continue in that hand.
This is the betting round in which bets are placed after three community cards are dealt face-up on the board to all the players still active. These community cards are shared by all the active players, which is the reason why they are dealt face-up so that everyone can see them clearly. This round starts with the player who is immediately clockwise from the dealer (the button).
This betting shall continue till all the players on the table who have decided to continue in the hand place an equal number of chips into the pot. Of course, if you do not wish to continue, you can simply ‘fold’ your cards and play no part till the next hand starts.
This is the round of bets that need to be placed after the fourth community card is dealt face-up to the center of the table. The round of betting follows a similar pattern as the one discussed above in ‘the flop’ round.
In this round of betting, the bets are made after the fifth / final community card is dealt face-up on the center of the table. This is the last opportunity for every player on the table to add chips into the pot.
For every round of betting, the betting continues till each player either matches the bets placed or folds up. In case of no bets made by any of the players, the round completes when every player has taken the action to ‘check’.
Once the last round of betting is completed, and more than one player is remaining on the table, then only will the showdown take place where the last person who put a bet/raise will display his / her cards. Say if there was no bet in the last round, the player who is immediately clockwise direction from the dealer (marker button) shall display his / her cards first. Now, who turns out to be the winner?
The player with the best-ranking hand is declared as the winner of the pot. In case of an exact tie between two or more players, the pot is shared. If there is a situation where only a single player remains in the hand because every other player on the table has folded, then that remaining player wins the pot even without having to show his / her cards.
The Next Hand
Once the winner is determined, the game moves to the next hand. Now, the dealer button is shifted to the player seated to the immediate left of the current dealer. The cards are reshuffled, and the blinds are placed by the next two players, and the cards are dealt again.
Types of Betting
There are various betting structures possible for Texas Hold’em poker (just like other Poker variations such as Omaha Poker). The most popular ones are as described below:
- No Limit Hold’em
As the name indicates, this ‘no limit’ poker game does not have any limit on the ‘bet’ or ‘raise’ action that you can perform. You can place any amount of bet in any of the betting rounds, even betting the entire set of chips you possess at that point in time.
- Pot Limit
Here, you are free to bet or raise an amount up to and including the overall size of the total pot at that given point in time.
- Limit Hold’em
With this betting structure variant, you can place a bet or choose to call or raise by an amount that is fixed in advance for the betting round. In this variant, you can raise a pot for a maximum of four times as well as the ‘bet’ or ‘raise’ should be equivalent to the size of the blinds. As the limit is fixed, a lot of players find it relatively inexpensive to remain in the game and so do not ‘fold’ easily.
You would have realized by now that Texas Hold’em Poker rules are quite easy to understand. In fact, these Texas Poker rules are quite similar to the Omaha Poker rules. In fact, once you learn Texas Hold’em, it will be much easier for you to transition your game to suit Omaha Poker. But, you need a lot of game time to master Texas Hold’em Poker game. You can make a start by downloading the Spartan Poker app and starting to play the real game with real money online.