Texas Hold’em is a version of poker which requires a standard 52-card deck of playing cards, a set of poker chips and a dealer button to play live, or a computer and internet connection to play online. After purchasing chips and taking your seat, each player will receive two hole cards face down before betting and attempting to form the best “according to Hoyle” poker hand. The following rules are universal to Texas Hold’em poker and dictate the game’s play whether you are in a casino or an online poker room.
1.) The dealer button revolves around the table in a clockwise motion, so that every player holds the button once during each revolution.
2.) The player to the immediate left of the dealer button is the small blind, and must put a forced bet into the pot.
3.) The next player to the left is the big blind, with their forced bet being double that of the small blind. The size of the big blind determines the minimum bet in all betting rounds.
4.) Every seated player will be dealt two hole cards face down. These hole cards, also known as pocket cards, are yours and yours alone, and they should be protected at all times.
5.) The first decision, or action, is always on the player seated left of the big blind and moves clockwise around the table as each player elects to either call, raise or fold their hand.
6.) After the first round of betting the dealer will burn the top card of the deck and spread three cards face up on the table. The first three community cards are called the “flop” and can be used by all players form the best possible poker hand in conjunction with one’s hole cards.
7.) Another round of betting and raising occurs after the flop is dealt.
8.) Once betting is completed another card is burned and the fourth community card is dealt face up. This card is called the “turn” or “fourth street” and can also be incorporated with your hole cards to improve your hand.
9.) Another round of betting takes place after the turn.
10.) The fifth and final community card, known as the “river” or “fifth street” is dealt face up and players finalize their hands in preparation for the showdown.
11.) After a final round of betting the remaining players reveal their hole cards to find out who holds the best hand. The winner claims the entire pot and the cards are shuffled before the next hand is dealt.
Texas Hold’em Stakes
No Limit Texas Hold’em
Known worldwide as the “Cadillac of Poker,” this version of Texas Hold’em rewards bold plays and big bets. As the name implies, No-Limit Texas Hold’em allows a player to bet or raise their entire stack of chips at any point during a hand, lending the game an air of unpredictability which can’t be matched. The ability to put your opponent to the ultimate test for all of their money, and the constant risk that your own chips may be pushed all-in at any time, makes No-Limit the most exhilarating and excruciating version of Texas Hold’em.
Pot Limit Texas Hold’em
Diverging from its all-or-nothing predecessor, Pot-Limit Texas Hold’em is a mathematically stimulating game in which the maximum bet or raise permitted is always the current size of the pot. In a typical $2/$4 Pot-Limit Texas Hold’em game, five players and the blinds calling to see a flop would create a pot of $28, which would then become the maximum bet. If you are faced with this bet and would like to raise the pot, your maximum bet would then be $84 ($28+$28+$28), or the sum of the pot, one bet and your call. This escalating betting structure creates highly volatile multiway pots, with many players opting to see the flop cheaply before upping the ante on subsequent streets.
Fixed Limit Texas Hold’em
In this traditional version of Texas Hold’em, the size of the small and big blinds at your table dictates the maximum bet or raise allowed at any time. Fixed Limit hands are divided into dual betting structure, with the small blind serving as the maximum bet before and after the flop, and the big blind indicating the maximum bet on the turn and river. The standard Fixed Limit game found in online poker rooms and casinos throughout the country is $3/$6 Texas Hold’em, meaning you will have to call $3 to stick around with a drawing hand, or raise it up to $6 with your Ace-King to push out the limpers. In most brick and mortar Fixed Limit Texas Hold’em games the house will offer “Kill Pots” in which the table stakes are doubled during any hand after a player wins two consecutive pots.
Texas Hold’em Tournaments vs. Cash Games
The first distinction to consider when studying the rules of Texas Hold’em is the difference between tournaments and cash games. The majority of online poker rooms provide plenty of tables for both versions of the game, so it’s important to know how tournaments vary from cash games before venturing into genuine competition.
A poker tournament is a one-time event where players pay an entry fee for a chance at the lion’s share of the prize pool. There are many spins on the classic Texas Hold’em tournament, such as re-buy, double stack and multi entry events, but the basic structure of a tournament is relatively simple. In a standard freezeout tournament each player is allotted a starting stack of chips which must be defended and augmented to assure survival. The small and big blinds will increase on a set schedule, forcing players to make moves and build their stacks to continue doing battle. When you claim another player’s chips after an all-in confrontation, they are eliminated and the tournament field shrinks by one, and this process continues until a champion is eventually crowned.The most well known poker tournament in popular culture, the World Series of Poker Main Event in Las Vegas, is the premiere platform for this type of game. Thousands of players pony up the $10,000 entry fee in exchange for a seat and a starting stack of 20,000 chips, with each hoping to navigate the minefield and emerge as the multimillion dollar winner.
Cash game poker eschews the formal nature of tournaments and boils things down to business. Each player enters the game with the amount of chips they feel comfortable wagering, within a set range of minimum and maximum buy-ins. When you play a cash game the size of your personal poker bankroll in relation to that of your opponents is a crucial factor, because many players can simply flood the table with money and win the war of attrition. In certain poker rooms and casinos, the house rules stipulate that “cash plays,” meaning you are sure to spot sharks sitting with skyhigh stacks of chips fronted by a barrier of $100 bills. The typical Texas Hold’em cash games spread by online poker sites are $1/$2 No-Limit Hold’em and $3/$6 Fixed Limit Hold’em, but high-stakes cash games can reach the $400/$800 blind levels on the most popular sites.