How to Play
This page explains the basics of how to play Texas holdem.
All players are dealt 2 cards face down
There are five community cards dealt face up.
Players play their 2 cards plus the 5 community cards to make the best five card poker hand
The highest ranking hand wins
There are rounds of betting that occur through out the course of a hand
Betting Rounds in Texas Holdem
There is one round of forced action called the blinds and four action betting rounds where you have decisions to make whenever it is your turn to act. There is also the conclusion of the hand called the showdown that happens after all the betting rounds are complete.
Forced Action = Forced Bets called blinds. Called blinds because when it is your turn you have to make these bets before you see your two hole cards. There is a small blind and a big blind. The small blind is the person just to the left of the dealer button. The big button is just to the left of the small blind. The small blind bet amount is half that of the big blind.
Pre-Flop = This betting round occurs after you get your two private hole cards but before any community cards are dealt. On the Flop = The flop is when the first 3 community cards are placed face up and are shared by all players.
On the Turn = The turn is the fourth community card placed face up.
On the River = The fifth and final community card is revealed and there is a final round of betting. Any active players in the hand after at the conclusion of this betting round go to the final phase of a texas holdem hand called the ‘Showdown’
Showdown = After the river betting round is complete, the hands are turned face up and the cards are ranked in order of highest to lowest ranking hands
Your Betting Options Playing Texas Holdem
When it is your turn to act you have the following options:
Fold – This is where you slide your cards face down to the dealer, giving up in the hand and not risking any additional chips. If you are facing a bet and you do not want to continue in the hand then you fold
Check – Checking is passing on your turn to bet. You can only check if there is no bet to you. Such as being first to act on a betting round or having the previous players check to you. You can not check pre-flop in texas holdem because you will always at least have a big blind bet you are forced to call (or raise) if you wish to continue in the hand. You can check in the later rounds if no one bets before action gets to you.
Call – If there has been a bet before your turn to act, then your choices or fold, call or raise. Calling means only matching the amount someone bet before you so you can stay alive in the hand.
Raise – This is when you raise the bet by increasing the amount of chips everyone else has to match in order to stay alive in the hand. If someone bets into you can raise the bet to force others to match even more chips to continue in the hand
Bet – This is what you do when you are the first person to bet at a pot, forcing others to match your bet or raise to continue in the hand. Essentially if you are first to act after the flop you can bet or make a bet that other people have to match to continue
Example Texas Holdem Hand
Here is a description of how a typical texas holdem hand plays out. Keep in mind that during any of the betting rounds the hand can end if all of the players except 1 fold their hand.
Blinds are placed. If you are the second or first person to the left of the dealer button then it is your turn you put out the big blind or small blind respectively (the dealer will tell you if you are not sure)
Everyone is dealt 2 private cards
The first person to act is the person to the left of the big blind and they can do any action except ‘check’ (because they have to at least call the big blind to continue).
Once the first person acts, it is the next player on the left to act which continues around the table. The action will complete once it gets around to the big blind if no one has raises.
Everyone must act each round on their hand. If there is a raise then all players, even those who only called earlier, will be forced to fold, call or re-raise. Assuming the action is complete, the dealer moves on to the next round.
The dealer deals the flop, which is the first three community cards
There is a round of betting that from this point forward begins with the person to the left of the button. In this situation the first person to act can check or bet. Folding is not really an option as there is no reason to fold. Action continues around until everyone has a chance to act
The turn is dealt and a round of betting occurs
The river is dealt and the final round of betting happens.
If two or more players are still competing for a pot then we go to Showdown. Hands are revealed and the highest ranking hand wins