How to Play Texas Hold'em
These odds get worse when the hands of other players are taken into account as these players could hold some of the needed cards because these cards are completely unavailable. This player has three options: Archived from the original on May 5, Six-plus hold 'em also known as Short-deck hold 'em is a community card poker game variant of Texas hold 'em, where cards 2 through 5 are removed. News and features about your favorite professional poker players from around the globe.
Texas Holdem Rules
The button is a round disc that sits in front of a player and is rotated one seat to the left every hand. When playing in casinos and poker rooms, the player with the dealer button doesn't actually deal the cards the poker room hires someone to do that. In home games with friends, though, the player with the button usually does deal the hands.
Generally, the first two players sitting to the immediate left of the button are required to post a small blind and a big blind to initiate the betting. From there, action occurs on multiple streets: The button determines which player at the table is the acting dealer. In Texas hold'em, the player on button, or last active player closest to the button, receives last action on all postflop streets of play.
While the dealer button dictates which players have to post the small and big blinds, it also determines where the dealing of the cards begin. The player to the immediate left of the dealer button in the small blind receives the first card and then the dealer pitches cards around the table in a clockwise motion from player to player until each has received two starting cards.
As mentioned, before every new hand, two players at the table are obligated to post small and big blinds. These are forced bets that begin the wagering. Without these blinds, the game would be very boring because no one would be required to put any money into the pot. Players could just wait around until they are dealt pocket aces and only play then.
The blinds, however, ensure there will be "action" on every hand. In tournaments, the blinds are raised at regular intervals. As the number of players keeps decreasing and the stacks of the remaining players keep getting bigger, it is a necessity that the blinds keep increasing throughout a tournament.
In cash games, the blinds always stay the same. The player directly to the left of the button posts the small blind, and the player to his or her direct left posts the big blind. The small blind is generally half the amount of the big blind, although this stipulation varies from room to room and can also be dependent of the game being played.
The first round of betting takes place right after each player has been dealt two hole cards. The first player to act is the player to the left of the big blind, a position referred to as "under the gun" because the player has to act first.
This player has three options:. The amount a player can raise to depends on the game that is being played. Most commonly in a game of no-limit Texas hold'em, the minimum opening raise must be at least twice the big blind, and the maximum raise can be all of the chips a player has in his or her stack an "all-in" bet. There are other betting variations in hold'em poker. In fixed-limit hold'em or just "limit hold'em , a raise is always exactly twice the big blind. In pot-limit hold'em played much less often than the other variations , players can bet anywhere from the amount of the big blind the minimum bet allowed up to the total amount in the current pot.
After the first player "under the gun" acts, play proceeds in a clockwise fashion around the table with each player also having the same three options — to call, to raise, or fold. Once the last bet is called and the action is "closed," the preflop round is over and play moves on to the "flop. After the first preflop betting round has been completed, the first three community cards are dealt and a second betting round follows involving only the players who have not folded already.
In this betting round and subsequent ones , action starts with the first active player to the left of the button. Along with the options to bet, call, fold, or raise, a player now has the option to "check" if no betting action has occurred beforehand.
A check simply means to pass the action to the next player in the hand. Again betting continues until the last bet or raise has been called which closes the action. It also can happen that every player simply chooses not to be and checks around the table, which also ends the betting round. The fourth community card, called the turn, is dealt face up following all betting action on the flop. Once this has been completed, another round of betting occurs, similar to that on the previous street of play.
Again players have the option to options to check, bet, call, fold, or raise. The fifth community card, called the river, is dealt face up following all betting action on the turn.
Once this has been completed, another round of betting occurs, similar to what took play on the previous street of play. Once more the remaining players have the option to options to check, bet, call, fold, or raise.
After all betting action has been completed, the remaining players in the hand with hole cards now expose their holdings to determine a winner. This is called the showdown. The remaining players open their hole cards, and with the assistance of the dealer a winning hand is determined.
The player with the best combination of five cards wins the pot according to traditional poker hand rankings. These hand rankings aren't specifically part of Texas hold'em rules, but apply to many different poker games.
Remember, players construct their hands by choosing the five best cards from the seven available their two hole cards and the five community cards. For example, if the board is showing , a player with the two hole cards would have two pair aces and nines , and would lose to a player who has for three of a kind three nines.
Learning hold'em poker begins with understanding how hands are dealt and the order of play as described above. Of course, learning Texas hold'em rules is just the beginning, as the next step is to learn strategy which involves understanding what constitutes good starting hand selection, the odds and probabilities associated with the game, the significance of position and getting to act last during those postflop betting rounds, and many other aspects of the game. Home to the biggest tournaments online, these rooms also have the largest player base, great bonuses, tons of action and the best software.
If you don't have accounts here, you are missing out on the best that online poker has to offer. After its first year, a journalist, Tom Thackrey, suggested that the main event of this tournament should be no-limit Texas hold 'em. The Binions agreed and ever since no-limit Texas hold 'em has been played as the main event. After receiving only eight entrants in , the numbers grew to over one hundred entrants in , and over two hundred in It was one of the first books to discuss Texas hold 'em, and is today cited as one of the most important books on this game.
Alvarez's book is credited with beginning the genre of poker literature and with bringing Texas hold 'em and poker generally to a wider audience.
Yardley, a former U. Interest in hold 'em outside of Nevada began to grow in the s as well. Although California had legal card rooms offering draw poker , Texas hold 'em was deemed to be prohibited under a statute that made illegal the now unheard of game " stud-horse ".
But in Texas hold 'em was declared legally distinct from stud-horse in Tibbetts v. Texas hold 'em is now one of the most popular forms of poker. During this time hold 'em replaced seven-card stud as the most common game in U. Hold 'em's simplicity and popularity have inspired a wide variety of strategy books which provide recommendations for proper play. Most of these books recommend a strategy that involves playing relatively few hands but betting and raising often with the hands one plays.
Prior to poker becoming widely televised, the movie Rounders , starring Matt Damon and Edward Norton , gave moviegoers a romantic view of the game as a way of life. Texas hold 'em was the main game played during the movie and the no-limit variety was described, following Doyle Brunson, as the "Cadillac of Poker".
A clip of the classic showdown between Johnny Chan and Erik Seidel from the World Series of Poker was also incorporated into the film. This film is unique in that it deals with the darker, more addictive elements of the game, and features Phil Hellmuth and Brad Booth. Hold 'em tournaments had been televised since the late s, but they did not become popular until , when hidden lipstick cameras were first used to show players' private hole cards on the Late Night Poker TV show in the United Kingdom.
A few months later, ESPN 's coverage of the World Series of Poker featured the unexpected victory of Internet player Chris Moneymaker , an amateur player who gained admission to the tournament by winning a series of online tournaments.
Moneymaker's victory initiated a sudden surge of interest in the series, based on the egalitarian idea that anyone—even a rank novice—could become a world champion. In , there were entrants in the WSOP main event,  and triple that number in The winner, Joe Hachem of Australia, was a semi-professional player. Beyond the series, other television shows—including the long running World Poker Tour —are credited with increasing the popularity of Texas hold 'em.
The English journalist and biographer Anthony Holden spent a year on the professional poker circuit from and wrote about his experiences in Big Deal: A Year as a Professional Poker Player. The follow-up book, Bigger Deal: A Year Inside the Poker Boom covers the period and describes a poker world "changed beyond recognition".
Twenty years after the publication of Alvarez's groundbreaking book, James McManus published a semi-autobiographical book, Positively Fifth Street , which simultaneously describes the trial surrounding the murder of Ted Binion and McManus's own entry into the World Series of Poker. Michael Craig 's book The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King details a series of high-stakes Texas hold 'em one-on-one games between Texas banker Andy Beal and a rotating group of poker professionals.
The ability to play cheaply and anonymously online has been credited as a cause of the increase in popularity of Texas hold 'em.
The and winners Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer, respectively of the World Series no-limit hold 'em main event qualified by playing in these tournaments.
Although online poker grew from its inception in until , Moneymaker's win and the appearance of television advertisements in contributed to a tripling of industry revenues in Hold 'em is normally played using small and big blind bets — forced bets by two players.
Antes forced contributions by all players may be used in addition to blinds, particularly in later stages of tournament play. A dealer button is used to represent the player in the dealer position; the dealer button rotates clockwise after each hand, changing the position of the dealer and blinds.
The small blind is posted by the player to the left of the dealer and is usually equal to half of the big blind. The big blind , posted by the player to the left of the small blind, is equal to the minimum bet. After one round of betting is done, the next betting round will start by the person in the small blind.
When only two players remain, special 'head-to-head' or 'heads up' rules are enforced and the blinds are posted differently. The dealer acts first before the flop. After the flop, the dealer acts last and continues to do so for the remainder of the hand.
The three most common variations of hold 'em are limit hold 'em, no-limit hold 'em and pot-limit hold 'em. Limit hold 'em has historically been the most popular form of hold 'em found in casino live action games in the United States. In the next two rounds of betting turn and river , bets and raises must be equal to twice the big blind; this amount is called the big bet.
No-limit hold 'em has grown in popularity and is the form most commonly found in televised tournament poker and is the game played in the main event of the World Series of Poker. In no-limit hold 'em, players may bet or raise any amount over the minimum raise up to all of the chips the player has at the table called an all-in bet. The minimum raise is equal to the size of the previous bet or raise.
If someone wishes to re-raise, they must raise at least the amount of the previous raise. If a raise or re-raise is all-in and does not equal the size of the previous raise or half the size in some casinos , the initial raiser cannot re-raise again in case there are other players also still in the game. In pot-limit hold 'em, the maximum raise is the current size of the pot including the amount needed to call. Some casinos that offer hold 'em also allow the player to the left of the big blind to post an optional live straddle , usually double the amount of the big blind.
This causes that player to act as the big blind and the player has an option to raise when it comes to their turn again. Some variations allow for straddle on the button. No-limit games may also allow multiple re-straddles, in any amount that would be a legal raise. Following a shuffle of the cards, play begins with each player being dealt two cards face down, with the player in the small blind receiving the first card and the player in the button seat receiving the last card dealt.
As in most poker games, the deck is a standard card deck containing no jokers. These cards are the players' hole or pocket cards. These are the only cards each player will receive individually, and they will only possibly be revealed at the showdown , making Texas hold 'em a closed poker game.
The hand begins with a "pre-flop" betting round, beginning with the player to the left of the big blind or the player to the left of the dealer, if no blinds are used and continuing clockwise. A round of betting continues until every player has folded, put in all of their chips, or matched the amount put in by all other active players.
See betting for a detailed account. Note that the blinds are considered "live" in the pre-flop betting round, meaning that they are counted toward the amount that the blind player must contribute. If all players call around to the player in the big blind position, that player may either check or raise.
After the pre-flop betting round, assuming there remain at least two players taking part in the hand, the dealer deals a flop , three face-up community cards. The flop is followed by a second betting round. This and all subsequent betting rounds begin with the player to the dealer's left and continue clockwise. After the flop betting round ends, a single community card called the turn or fourth street is dealt, followed by a third betting round.
A final single community card called the river or fifth street is then dealt, followed by a fourth betting round and the showdown, if necessary. In the third and fourth betting rounds, the stakes double.
In all casinos, the dealer will burn a card before the flop, turn, and river. Because of this burn, players who are betting cannot see the back of the next community card to come. This is done for traditional reasons, to avoid any possibility of a player knowing in advance the next card to be dealt due to its being marked. If a player bets and all other players fold, then the remaining player is awarded the pot and is not required to show their hole cards.
If two or more players remain after the final betting round, a showdown occurs. On the showdown, each player plays the best poker hand they can make from the seven cards comprising their two-hole cards and the five community cards. A player may use both of their own two hole cards, only one, or none at all, to form their final five-card hand.
If the five community cards form the player's best hand, then the player is said to be playing the board and can only hope to split the pot, because each other player can also use the same five cards to construct the same hand. If the best hand is shared by more than one player, then the pot is split equally among them, with any extra chips going to the first players after the button in clockwise order.
It is common for players to have closely valued, but not identically ranked hands. Nevertheless, one must be careful in determining the best hand; if the hand involves fewer than five cards, such as two pair or three of a kind , then kickers are used to settle ties see the second example below. The card's numerical rank is of sole importance; suit values are irrelevant in hold 'em. If the first or second card dealt is exposed, then this is considered a misdeal.
The dealer then retrieves the card, reshuffles the deck, and again cuts the cards. However, if any other hole card is exposed due to a dealer error, the deal continues as usual. After completing the deal, the dealer replaces the exposed card with the top card on the deck, and the exposed card is then used as the burn card. If more than one hole card is exposed, a misdeal is declared by the dealer and the hand is dealt again from the beginning.
Each player plays the best five-card hand they can make with the seven cards available. In this case, Ted's full house is the best hand, with Carol in second, Alice in third and Bob last. Here is a sample game involving four players. The players' individual hands will not be revealed until the showdown, to give a better sense of what happens during play:. Alice is the dealer.
Alice deals two hole cards face down to each player, beginning with Bob and ending with herself. Ted must act first, being the first player after the big blind. Carol's blind is "live" see blind , so there is the option to raise here, but Carol checks instead, ending the first betting round.
On this round, as on all subsequent rounds, the player on the dealer's left begins the betting. Alice now burns another card and deals the turn card face up.
Bob checks, Carol checks, and Alice checks; the turn has been checked around. Because of the presence of community cards in Texas hold 'em, different players' hands can often run very close in value.
As a result, it is common for kickers to be used to determine the winning hand and also for two hands or maybe more to tie. A kicker is a card which is part of the five-card poker hand, but is not used in determining a hand's rank.
The following situation illustrates the importance of breaking ties with kickers and card ranks, as well as the use of the five-card rule.
After the turn, the board and players' hole cards are as follows. Bob and Carol still each have two pair queens and eights , but both of them are now entitled to play the final ace as their fifth card, making their hands both two pair, queens and eights, with an ace kicker.
Bob's king no longer plays, because the ace on the board plays as the fifth card in both hands, and a hand is only composed of the best five cards. They therefore tie and split the pot. However, had the last card been a jack or lower except an eight or a queen which would make a full house, or a ten which would give Carol a higher second pair , Bob's king would have stayed in the game and would have won.
Most poker authors recommend a tight- aggressive approach to playing Texas hold 'em. This strategy involves playing relatively few hands tight , but betting and raising often with those that one does play aggressive.
Almost all authors agree that where a player sits in the order of play known as position is an important element of Texas hold 'em strategy, particularly in no-limit hold'em. As a result, players typically play fewer hands from early positions than later positions. Because of the game's level of complexity, it has received some attention from academics. One attempt to develop a quantitative model of a Texas hold'em tournament as an isolated complex system has had some success,  although the full consequences for optimal strategies remain to be explored.
In addition, groups at the University of Alberta and Carnegie Mellon University worked to develop poker playing programs utilizing techniques in game theory and artificial intelligence.
Although it does not win every hand, it is unbeatable on average over a large number of hands. The program exhibits more variation in its tactics than professional players do, for instance bluffing with weak hands that professional players tend to fold. Because only two cards are dealt to each player, it is easy to characterize all of the starting hands. Because no suit is more powerful than another , many of these can be equated for the analysis of starting-hand strategy. Because of this equivalence, there are only effectively different hole-card combinations.
Thirteen of these are pairs, from deuces twos to aces. There are 78 ways to have two cards of different rank 12 possible hands containing one ace, 11 possible hands containing one king but no ace, 10 possible hands containing one queen but no ace or king, etc. Both hole cards can be used in a flush if they are suited, but pairs are never suited, so there would be 13 possible pairs, 78 possible suited non-pairs, and 78 possible unsuited "off-suit" non-pairs, for a total of possible hands.
Because of the limited number of starting hands, most strategy guides include a detailed discussion of each of them. This distinguishes hold 'em from other poker games where the number of starting card combinations forces strategy guides to group hands into broad categories. Another result of this small number is the proliferation of colloquial names for individual hands.
Texas Hold'em is commonly played both as a "cash" or "ring" game and as a tournament game.