One of the most popular forms of poker today is Texas Hold’em. In Texas Hold’em each player receives two hole-cards and five subsequent cards are dealt face-up in the middle of the table, also known as the “flop”, “turn”, and “river”. The object of the game is to make the best five-card poker hand possible using your two hole-cards and the five community cards.
A white object, known as the “dealer button” is passed to the left after each hand to signify where the deal should start. Each player will then be dealt two cards after which the first found of betting commences.
The majority of Texas Hold’em games use a two-blind structure. These two blinds, the Small and Big Blind, are forced bets used to encourage action. The player to the left of the dealer, or dealer button, must post the Small Blind. The player to the left of the Small Blind must post the Big Blind, typically double the size of the Small Blind.
In most fixed-limit games the size of the Big Blind is used for the first two rounds of betting. The turn and river use a bet double this size, also known as a “Big Bet”. Therefore, in a $2/$4 game the blinds are typically $1 and $2 and the Big Bet is $4. In No-Limit games the Big Blind is typically 1% of the table buy-in. When sitting in a $2/$4 No-Limit game, one can presume the buy-in is $400.
Once the blinds are posted the dealer will deal cards one at a time to his/her left until each player has two cards. The first round of betting, known as “Pre-Flop”, is shown in the picture below.
This picture was taken from a $25 buy-in NL game on FullTilt Poker just after the deal. The player “Ringotan” is the dealer for this hand, making “reraisebob” and “loin30co” in the Small and Big Blind respectively.
The first player to act after the deal is the player to the left of the Big Blind, in this case, “MisterKriss”. Because they are first to act this player is commonly referred to as being “under-the-gun” or UTG. They will not necessarily act first on the next three betting rounds as long as the Small or Big Blind remains in the hand.
Each player has the option to fold/call/raise once the action (moving to the left) gets to them. In fixed-limit games, there is typically a “cap” on the number of raises in each round, generally three or four. In No-Limit players may choose to raise as small as 2x the Big Blind or to bet all of their chips, deemed “going all-in”. If no one has raised once the action is on the Big Blind he/she has an option to check (seeing the flop for just the posted blind) or raise.
Once the action is closed (either a check by the Big Blind or a call of the last raise) the dealer will then take one card, and place it face down in the middle of the table. This card is referred to as a “burn card”. Its main purpose was to help deter cheating in the days when poker was solely played as underground games. The dealer will then place three cards, face-up, in the middle of the table. These community cards are known as “the flop”. An example of the flop can be seen below
In the picture above one can see that there are two players remaining with cards, the Big Blind “loin30co” and the player on the button “Ringotan”. The first player to act after the flop is the first player to the left of the button still remaining in the hand. In this case “loinco30” will act first by either checking or betting. Ringotan will then have the option to either bet or check after a check or fold, call, or raise after a bet. Once the action is closed the dealer will then burn another card, and place one more card face-up next to the flop. This card is known as either the “turn card” or “fourth-street”. An example of the turn can be seen below
The action will remain the same of the turn, with the player to the left of the button acting first and the player on the button (or the last remaining player to its right) acting last. Once the action is closed the dealer will burn one more card and place one final card face-up next to the turn card. This card is known as either the “river card” or “fifth-street”. An example of the river can be seen below
Once the river is dealt players will have one last chance to place any bets, and once the final bet is called or all players check, the players will reveal their hole cards to determine a winner. A player’s whose final bet was called must show his/her cards first, and the player who called must only show if he/she has a better hand and wants to collect the pot. Otherwise, the player can “muck” their cards, not allowing their opponent to see what they called with.
Texas Hold’em All-In Rules
The major difference between Fixed-Limit and No-Limit Hold’em is that at any time in No-Limit a player may wager all of his/her chips, known as “going all-in”. This can create some interesting scenarios, as players do not always have the same amount of chips as others. No matter what anyone has seen on TV, a player does not have to fold their hand if they cannot cover their opponent’s bet. In this case, a “side pot” is created. Let’s look at an example:
There is a hand with three players. Player A starts the hand with $400, Player B with $550, and Player C with $1000. After the flop Player B decides to go all-in for $550, Player C calls, as does Player A. What would then happen is the dealer would create two pots, the main pot and the side pot. The main pot would have $1200 in it, $400 from each player. The side pot would then have $300 in it, $150 each from Players B and C. Player A could only win what is in the middle of the main pot, while Players B and C could win either just the side pot, or both pots.
Online Poker vs. Live Poker
There are a few differences between online and live poker. In many of the Fixed-Limit games the number of raises on each street will differ. In some live casinos 4 raises (5 bets) are allowed to go in on each street, while online the maximum is always 3 raises (4 bets). In some No-Limit games a “straddle” is allowed, which is a blind-bet by the UTG player for 2x the Big Blind. Before the cards are dealt the UTG player must announce the straddle is on and he/she would place their bet. If players want to see a flop they must now at least call this bet, not just the Big Blind.
If you would like to learn more about Texas Hold’em (and other poker games) please feel free to check out our Poker Rules page for more information. Also, be sure to familiarize yourself with our poker hand rankings page to determine what hands beat what.
Once you feel you have learned the rules of Texas Hold’em it is time to learn some basic strategy. There’s an old saying: “Texas Hold’em takes a minute to learn, but a lifetime to master”. To start learning today visit our Poker Strategy section to learn from some of the best live and online players around. Players can find information on both cash games and tournaments, including such topics as Bankroll Management, Table Selection, and Pot Odds as well as many other key concepts!
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