How to Play Texas Holdem

Texas Holdem is often described as the “Cadillac” of poker games and has skyrocketed in popularity since Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker in 2003.  A game of skill, psychology and sheer guts, Hold’em is very easy to learn but takes a long time to master since there are so many intricacies of the game that can’t be taught by reading, only by playing like the UTG position of the cards.  Unlike other forms of poker, Hold’em is quite unique in that unlike traditional games like Draw poker the range of hand possibilities is greatly increased.  This means that there is a lot more action in the game and much more strategizing on what your opponent holds and whether or not they are bluffing a particular hand.  In this article we will teach you how to play Texas Holdem with an overview including the rules, tips about how to play online, best starting hands and maximizing your starting bankroll.

The Rules of the Game

  • Hold’em is played at a table typically with as little as 2 and as many as 10 players
  • During each round, a player is designated as the dealer (rotates clockwise around the table) and the play immediately to the left of the dealer is known as the small blind, and the player to their left is known as the big blind
  • When a round begins, both the small and big blinds must post which means they will start out the pot at whatever limit the game is, for example $1/$2, $5/$10 and so on
  • At this point, each player in the game is dealt two cards which are known as “hole cards”
  • After all players at the table have their hole cards, the action is on the player immediately to the left of the big blind, who can fold, call (put in chips equal to the big blind), or make a raise
  • Action continues around the table until it reaches the big blind who can check (if there has been no raises), fold if their have been or raise if they want to increase the size of the pot
  • At this point, the dealer will deal 3 community cards onto the table known as the “Flop”
  • Another round of betting commences with the remaining players in the hand until either everyone folds and there is one winner, it’s checked around the table or a raise is called
  • After this, the dealer deals another single card known as the “Turn” onto the table
  • Another betting round commences and if there are still players left the game proceeds
  • At this point, the final card is dealt into the community cards known as the “River”
  • There is now 5 community cards on the table as well as 2 hole cards that the players were originally dealt at the beginning of the hand
  • Another round of betting commences and if any players remain after this betting round there is a “showdown” and players must expose the two hole cards they have in their hand
  • These two cards are evaluated against the 5 community cards to make the best 5 card poker hand and whoever has the highest ranked hand is determined to be the winner of that game
  • In Texas Hold’em, players don’t have to use both hole cards, for example if the table had the cards Ace, Ace, Ace, King, Queen and the players hole cards were Ace, 2 – the end result hand would be 4 of a kind (Aces) for this player with a King high

Limit vs. No-Limit

There are two basic types of Texas Holdem that are typically played amongst players including Limit and No-Limit.  As the names suggest, Limit Poker places a maximum wager that the player can place during each betting round.  For example, in a $5/$10 limit game, in each betting round the player can only raise in increments of $5 on the flop and $10 on the turn and river up to a maximum of 4 times, with additional raising not allowed during play.  Conversely, in No-Limit Poker, players are free to bet between the minimum blinds up to their entire chip stack at any point during the game.  Because of the bigger pots and potential of more profitability with No-Limit it’s become much more popular than Limit which use to be the game of choice in the early days of poker.

About Playing Online

With the advent of online poker, both Limit and NL Texas Holdem really took off and there are tens of thousands of players online each and everyday taking a shot at the cash games. Playing online is a great way to learn the game since all of the poker sites offer free versions of their software where you can learn the rules and hone your skills before playing for real money. The online sites also offer bonuses when you sign up, usually 100% match on your first deposit up to a certain amount, which is a great way to get some extra bang for your buck and increase your bankroll. Another major advantage of playing online is the ability to multi-table, something you can’t do in a casino, which means you can open more than one game or tournament at once and get a lot more hands in than you would at a traditional land based poker game.