The first set of poker rules that needs to be discussed is, of course, the Cadillac of Poker Games, Texas Holdem. Texas Holdem is the game that the World Poker Tour and the World Series of Poker focus on, particularly the No-Limit variance of Texas Holdem. Texas Holdem is, by far, the most popular of the online poker games.
The rules for Texas Holdem are quite simple. The game goes like this: the dealer button is established – this player does not actually deal, but he will be the last player to act on three of the four betting rounds. This is the best position to be in because you get to act last for most of the game, meaning that you have the opportunity to see how all the players will act before it is your turn, which is vital information. To the left of the dealer is the “small blind”, this player must post half the amount of the blind – which is a dollar amount depending on the stakes of the table. To the left of the small blind is the “big blind”, who must post the full blind dollar amount. For example, if you are playing $1-2 limit Texas Holdem game, the small blind must put down $.50 and the big blind must place $1.00 on the table before anything happens. This is how the poker game starts.
Now, once the blinds are established, each player is dealt two cards face down. These are referred to as your “hole cards”. You can view your cards and then determine if you want to play. The action rotates around the table, this first starts with the player to the left of the big blind, this position is often referred to as UTG for “Under the Gun”. This player decides whether he wants to play his hand, and if so, must match or raise the big blind amount. In our example of a $1-2 game, the player must place a bet of $1.00 or more to stay in the game, or fold his cards. The action continues around the table, to the dealer, the small blind, and finally, the big blind. The big blind may not have to put anymore money on the table if the pot is not raised, since he already has a $1.00 put in. This is the first round of betting, and the only round of betting where the big blind position is last to act. All subsequent betting rounds ends with the player on the dealer button. If this is a $1-2 limit Texas Holdem game, then all bets or raises on this round are $1.
After this initial round of betting, three cards are placed on the board, at the same time, face-up. This is called the “Flop”. The second round of betting ensues, starting with the small blind position and ending with the dealer position. Again the bets on this round would be $1 in a $1-2 holdem game.
After the betting on the flop, the “Turn” card is dealt on the board. Now there are 4 cards on the board and two in your hand. The third round of betting begins, again starting with the small blind position and ending with the dealer position. Now, if you are playing a $1-2 limit Texas Holdem game, this is when the big bet, $2, kicks in. From here on out, all bets or raises are always exactly $2.
Finally, the fifth and final card is dealt on the board, the “River” card, and the fourth and final round of betting ensues. At the end of the betting, the players will show their two hole cards, and the best 5 of the possible 7 cards determines the winner. The rules dictate that you may choose to use one, both, or none of you hole cards, whichever makes you the best poker hand.
Those are the rules of Texas Holdem in a nut shell. There are three types of Texas Holdem games which have slightly different betting rules:
Each version of the game requires subtle changes to your strategy – studying, practice, and experience will help you determine which game is best for you. Read up on our poker strategy or check out our Poker Forum to learn how to win at Texas Holdem!