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Texas Holdem Rules

Ronald Norris
US players are welcome

The article below introduces the general Texas Holdem rules and hands and is directed towards novice players. If you are planning to become a winning Texas Holdem pro, you need to learn these rules and keep on studying the strategy of the game, learn winning hands, familiarize with the important poker terms available in our glossary and read Texas Holdem tips provided by poker professionals. All intellectual games, including Texas Holdem poker, demand intelligent approach and reward most patient and smart players with easy and stable income.

Betting structure

The game of Texas Holdem usually begins with forced bets posted by two players sitting to the left of the dealer button. These forced bets are called “the blinds”, or “blind bets”. There are two types of blind bets – the big and the small blind. Another type of forced bets – “the antes” (a kind of forced bets charged from each player at the table) are usually charged in upper stages of the tournaments and can be used in addition to blind bets. Usually, the antes aren’t charged in ring games offered by the majority of online poker rooms. The dealer button moves clockwise after each game indicating a player who represents the dealer’s position and blinds.

Blind bets

In Texas Holdem, the small blind is posted by the first player sitting to the left of the dealer button and the big blind is posted by the second player sitting to the left from the dealer button and is usually equal to the minimum bet. The small blind is equal to half of the big blind. In Texas Holdem tournaments, the value of blinds and antes is periodically increasing. Note that though value of blind bets is usually calculated proceeding from the minimal bet of the table, each online poker room can set up different values of the blinds. Also note that in tournament games, if there are only two players left (frequently referred to as “heads up” or “head-to-head”), the rules change: a player indicated by the dealer button posts the small blind and his opponent posts the big blind. Besides of this, the player indicated by the dealer button acts first preflop and last after the flop.

Limit, no-limit and pot-limit Texas Holdem poker

Besides of classic Texas Holdem, there are three popular variations of the game, played in the majority of online poker rooms. These are limit Texas Holdem, no-limit Texas Holdem and pot-limit Texas Holdem. These branches of the game have slight difference in betting structure and sometimes even in game rules.

In limit Texas Holdem, both bets and raises throughout the first two betting rounds are limited to the size of the big blind and during the third and fourth betting rounds both bets and raises kust be equal to double big blind.

In no-limit Texas Holdem, which is the most popular type of the game within major world poker events including World Series of Poker, the players can bet and raise any amount of chips over the minimum raise and even go all-in (make a bet or raise involving all chips possessed by the player). A player who wants to re-raise must raise at least the amount of chips equal to the previous raise and if a raise or re-raise is “all-in” and isn’t equal to the size of the previous raise, then the initial raiser is unable to re-raise again, which actually matters if somebody called before this re-raise.

In pot-limit Texas Holdem, the maximum raise is limited to the current size of the pot.

Play of the hand

Texas Holdem is played with a standard deck of 52 cards without jokers. When the small blind and the big blind are posted, each player is dealt with two cards face down (frequently referred to as “pocket cards”). Pocket cards are the only individual cards in the game – the rest of cards dealt throughout the game are shared by all players and are frequently called “community cards”. Pocket cards are only revealed at the showdown, unless a player folds.

The first betting round (preflop) begins with a player sitting to the left of the big blind, unless no blinds are used (in this case the game starts with a player sitting to the left of the dealer button). Note that all poker games including Texas Holdem are played clockwise. During the first betting round all players must either fold, call the big blind (unless you posted one of the blinds – if you have posted the big blind, which is considered a bet – you can check or raise and if you have posted the small blind than you will either have to call a half of the big blind, or raise) or raise bets made by someone sitting earlier than you.

For example, if you have posted the small $0,5 blind and the next player have posted the big $1 blind, then when your turn comes you can either fold, call $0,5 (to match the size of the minimum bet) or raise, if someone before your already made a bet or raised.

Right after the the preflop, if there are still two or more players staying in the pot, the first three community cards are dealt face-up (the flop). The flop is followed by the second betting round, which, as well as all subsequent betting rounds, starts with a player sitting to the left of the dealer button.

After the flop, as well as after all subsequent betting rounds, only one community card is dealt onto the table. The last community card is followed by the fourth betting round and then the showdown occurs, unless only one player still says in the pot (the others fold).

In live games, the dealer burns one card before the flop, turn and river, which is done to prevent players see the back of the next community card to come, because it can be somehow marked by coggers. In online Texas Holdem games no cards are burnt due to the fact that marking cards in online poker rooms is simply impossible.

The showdown

Normally, a Texas Holdem game ends with showdown, unless all but one player fold during one of the previous betting rounds. In this case the only remaining player is awarded the pot without revealing his pocket cards. Otherwise, after the last betting round all players open their cards to compare hands and decide the winner. At the showdown, each player presents the best hand of five cards he can form from the seven available cards (2 pocket cards and 5 community cards). In order to form a winning hand, a player can use his 2 pocket cards and any 3 community cards, or his 1 pocket card and 4 community cards, or even none of his cards, but all five community cards. If someone is using just the community cards to form a winning hand, then this player is said to be “playing the board”, but though the community cards are shared by all players at the table, those, who “play the board” can only hope for a share of the pot.

In case if several players hold the strongest, but equal hands, then the pot is equally split among them. Note that if all equal hands are formed by less than five cards, then the winner is decided by the comparison of “kickers” – the cards, which weren’t involved in winning combination. For example, if John has AAKKQ and Mary has AAKKJ, then John wins, because his kicker (Queen) is higher than Mary’s Jack. Also note that in Texas Holdem suit values are irrelevant.

The above article describes the basic rules of Texas Holdem poker and requires knowledge of winning Texas Holdem hands and further study of Texas Holdem strategy.

Also recommended:

  1. About Texas Holdem
  2. Playing the Game of Omaha High
  3. Playing the Game of Texas Holdem
  4. Texas Holdem Jargon
  5. River Betting in Texas Holdem




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