Texas Hold'em is one of the most popular forms of poker in the world, popularized by the Hollywood film Rounders, starring Matt Damon and Edward Norton.
Most of the poker you see on television is Texas Hold'em. The Main Event at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas is a no-limit Texas Hold'em tournament.
Introduction to Texas Hold'em
In Texas Hold'em, you are dealt two hole cards face down. No one can see your two hole cards.
Your goal is to make the best five-card hand using any combination of your two hole cards and the five community cards everyone can use. You can use zero, one, or both of your hole cards to make a hand. You can only use your hole cards and the community cards. You cannot use someone else's hole cards and vice versa.
The player with the highest five-card hand wins the pot.
Texas Hold'em can be played with different betting structures: no-limit, pot-limit, and limit.
Pot-limit hold'em is not very common in North America, but it is predominately played in Europe. Limit hold'em was invented by casinos in order to prevent their recreational players from losing all of their money at no-limit tables. Many of the biggest cash games in the world are mixed games that include limit hold'em.
How does a hand of Texas Hold'em play out?
The blinds are comprised of the two players to the left of the dealer button. The player closest to the left of the dealer button is the small blind, while the player two to the left is the big blind. The small blind is usually half the size of the big blind.
The blinds are forced bets that induce the action by guaranteeing money in the pot on every hand. The blinds move clockwise around the table.
Pre-flop - 1st betting round
Each player is dealt two hole cards down and only you can see your concealed cards.
The player to the left of the big blind, otherwise known as “under the gun”, is the first player to act as the action moves clockwise around the table. The first player has the option of calling the amount of the big blind, folding, or raising. If a player is facing a raise, they must call, fold, or re-raise.
The big blind is last to act.
If the pot is not raised and other opponents have only called, the big blind has the option of checking or raising. If the big blind checks, then the flop is dealt. If the big blind raises, then betting continues until the action returns back to the big blind. If no one calls a raise, the last person to raise wins the pot without revealing their hole cards.
Once all remaining bets and raises have been called, the dealer puts out the flop.
Flop - 2nd round of betting
Three community cards are revealed face up.
Your best hand is currently a pair of Jacks with an Ace kicker.
Action starts with the small blind and proceeds clockwise around the table. The dealer (button) is the last to act. Players have the option to check or bet. Once a player decides to bet, those options change and a player can fold, call, or raise. If someone bets out and everyone folds, the original bettor wins the pot. If someone raises and no one calls, the raiser wins the pot right there without revealing their hole cards.
If everyone checks, the betting round is complete and action proceeds to the turn.
Turn - 3rd round of betting
The fourth community card is the turn, sometimes called 4th street.
On the turn, your hand is still a pair of Jacks, but you also picked up flush draw and a straight draw.
Once again, action proceeds from the small blind. Players may check or bet. Once a bet is made, any remaining opponents must call, raise, or fold. If someone bets and everyone folds, then the hand is over and the original bettor wins. If someone raises and no one calls, the hand is over and the raiser wins without revealing their hole cards.
If everyone checks, the betting round is over and the final community card is dealt.
River - 4th and final round of betting
The fifth community card is called the river, otherwise known as 5th street.
On the river, you finished up with a straight to the Ace, or a Broadway straight:
Starting clockwise from the small blind, the final round of betting begins. Players have the option to check or bet. Once a bet is made, players must decide whether to call, fold, or raise. If someone bets or raises without anyone calling, then the hand is over and the bettor wins without revealing their hole cards.
If someone bets and another player(s) just calls, we reach showdown and the remaining players must reveal their cards to determine which player has the best five-card hand.
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