Texas Hold’em: How to Play and the Rules of the Game
Texas holdem is one of the popular poker games that many poker pros have made a fortune playing. No doubt, the game is one of the most played games at any tournament. For newbies in the poker world, learning the game can seem like a herculean task but it is not as difficult as it seems. With the understanding of the rules of the game, you can begin to play the game as a beginner. Understandably, the rules are quite simple and logical, and it takes little time to master them. However, the actual game requires some time to get a grasp of it. So are you new in Texas holdem game and you are trying to learn the rope to gain mastery of the game? This article will explain everything you need to know about the rules of the game.
The Rules of Texas Holdem
Before we go into the details of the rules of the game, let us quickly look at the meaning of some terms you will come across as you come in contact with Texas holdem.
- Blinds: This is used in place of ‘blind bets’. They refer to the forced bets that are placed before cards are dealt in Texas holdem. Blinds usually replace the classic ante.
- Check: This is very close to a call but in this regard, no money is wagered. If there is no preflop raised, the blind may get checked.
- Button: This is a moniker for the player that is functioning as a dealer in a current game
- Turn: This refers to the fourth community dealt card. It is also referred to as fourth street
- Fourth Street: It means the same as ‘Turn’
- Flop: This is the first three community dealt cards
- Showdown: This is used when a player reveal their hand only to realize the pot’s winner
- River: This is the final fifth community dealt card.
- Fifth Street: It means the same thing as ‘River’
- Preflop: This refers to anything that happens before a flop is dealt
- All-In: This refers to a situation when a player puts all their remaining chips in the pot
It is important that you understand these terms before you begin to play so that you can understand every move that is engaged during your game.
How to use these Rules when Playing Texas Holdem
Firstly, let us establish the fact that Texas holdem is a card poker game that focuses on the betting as well as the cards that are being played. According to standard, the game play and the rules are the same in all types of the game. However, depending on whether you are playing Texas holdem tournament or Texas holdem cash game, the end goal will be somewhat different. The Texas holdem cash game is usually played at a single table between two to ten players. The goal in this game is pretty simple. You just go ahead to win as many chips as possible at one pot per time. A player wins a pot by simply having the best hand. Another alternative winning method is to have all the other players fold before showdown. Texas holdem tournament on the other hand is like any other holdem game, just with a couple of twists and additional rules.
It is important to mention that Texas holdem is divided into three major components: Set up; Showdown; and Betting Rounds.
Let us now look at how the rules play out in the game.
Dealer Button: Rule of Texas Holdem
When you have players at the table, the first step is to hand out chips to players. It is important to understand the process and techniques of the game in order to figure out the type of chips to provide for each of the players. When chips have been given to all players, the next thing is to select the player that will begin with the dealer button. It is important to mention that Texas holdem game is played with a rotating dealer. This means one of the player will function as the dealer during one hand of the game and the role will be passed on to the next player by their right at the completion of the hand. To select a dealer, what you need to do is to spread the game cards face down on the poker table and ask each player to select one. You can also deal each player with one card each straight up. The player that has the card with the highest value will begin as the dealer. Note that the highest valued card should most likely be aces because they are high for choosing dealers.
Additionally, if you are playing at a casino or a live poker room with professional dealer, the dealer button will also rotate around the game table. It is essential to mention that a professional dealer is an individual who volunteers to regularly deal cards. Although the professional dealer is physically dealing cards, the person who has the button is seen as the dealer of a hand. As soon as the current hand is completed, the player that has the dealer button will transfer it to the next player by his left.
The Blind – Rule of Texas Holdem
With the position of a dealer already established, the next thing is to put the blinds out. Technically, there are two different blinds in the game of Texas holdem. These are the big blind and the small blind. These two forced bets are required to be placed by two players to ensure that there are some chips worth gaming for within the pot. Really, without money in the pot, the players might decide to fold more often than normal, which will automatically slow down the pace of the action significantly.
The player at the left side of the dealer would put out a small blind and then the big blind, which is often double of the small blind, will be paid by the player that is at the left hand side of the player of the small blind. Usually, the actual size of the blind will determine the stakes involved in the game you are getting involved in. Ideally in a standard game, players should buy-in for nothing less than 100-times the size of the available big blind. For instance, if you want to buy-in for a sum of $20USD, then you should play binds of about 10¢ to 20¢. Usually, most players will buy-in with 10¢ to 25¢.
In a poker room or a live casino, the minimum and maximum amounts that a player can buy-in will be in close relation to the available blinds. For instance, in a buy-in of $1-$2 Texas holdem game, the table minimum will be about $40, which is 20 times the big blind. The maximum can be $200, which is 100 times the big blind.
Having determined the blinds, it is easy to know the kind of chips that the player should play with. Each player should be given adequate number of chips in each of the available domination in order to have a seamless game. Usually, a player needs about 10% of the total chips in the lowest denomination. This is because they will only be used to pay for the small blind. Essentially, all the betting will be wagered with larger chips. When you have sorted the issues of the chips out as well as the first blinds, it is time to begin the game and deal the first hand.
At the start of the game, the player dealing the cards usually deals towards the left of the player that has the dealer button first. He then rotates it clockwise across the table. Each of the players at the table will receive a single card per time until they all have two cards that are facing down. These cards are referred to as the hole cards and the holder is the only person that can use it when they are making their final five-poker hand. Usually, a round of the game is made up of at least one and at most four different betting rounds. One hand comes to an end when all the players with the exception of one have folded, or the 4th and final betting round concludes with multi players remaining in the hand. Either of the two can come first.
At this point, the players enter into what is called showdown. The player that has the highest hand then takes the pot. In situations where two players have the highest hand, the pot will be split into two equal parts for each of the players.
Preflop –Texas Holdem Rule
This rule states that when each player around the table has received their hole cards, they are in the preflop betting round. Players will need to look at their cards and decide on the action they have to take. Only one player in Texas holdem can act per time. The preflop betting round usually begins with the player that is at the left side of the player that placed the big blind. Generally, there are three options opened to this player. First, he can choose to fold, which means he will pay nothing into the pot but throw his hand away and wait for the next deal in order to play again. Second, he may call, which means he will give the exact amount of the big blind. This is also referred to as ‘limping in’. Third, he may also raise, which means he will raise the wager by doubling the total amount available for the big blind. It is important to mention that a player can raise more based on the style of betting that is being played.
As soon as a player has taken their action, the player to their left is the next player to act. Each of the players at the table will receive the same option, whether to fold, raise, or call current bet. Note that if the player before you raised, you must call the exact amount if there is no one that has bet a big blind amount.
Usually the betting round of Texas holdem comes to an end when the following two conditions are fulfilled; one, all the players have got their chance to act; two, all the players that have not folded have wagered the same amount for the round.
Let us look at a couple of examples to explain this rule further.
Betting Round One
There are 5 different players at the table where the first player has the button, second player places a small blind of 10¢, and the third player places a big blind of 25¢. The betting round starts with the fourth player calling the big blind at 25¢ and the fifth player folds. The first player calls big blind again at 25¢ and the second player calls the big blind again. Now, since the second player already placed 10¢ bet, they will only need to add an additional 15¢ to make a total of 25¢. The third player then checks and since they already placed a matched bet, there is no need to add any more money for the call. This is what is referred to as checking.
At the point that the second player calls big blind, all the players have exactly the same amount in front of them. However, the third player, with the big blind, is yet to act at this stage, which means the betting round still continues. As soon as the third player checks, the conditions for ending a betting round have been met, and the betting round can be said to be over.
In the second betting round, there are still five players remaining at the table. The first player has the button, the second player has the small blind of 10¢, and the third player has the big blind of 25¢. At the commencement of the betting round, the fourth player calls the big blind at 25¢ and the fifth player raises at 50¢. The first player goes ahead to fold and the second player also folds. The third player then re-raises. Now, since they already had 25¢ in the big blind, they will complete the bet of 50¢ and then goes ahead to add an additional bet to raise it to 75¢. The fourth player folds since their prior call of 25¢ is already in the pot. The fifth player then calls which matches the bet of the third player at 75¢.
In this case, all the players already had the chance to act at the point when the third player made the re-raise. However, it is not all the players that have the same amount of bet. When the fourth player folds, only the third and fifth players are remaining in the pot, and when the fifth player calls, both betting conditions have been met and the betting round comes to an end.
The Flop – Texas Holdem Rule
As soon as the preflop betting round comes to an end, the flop has been dealt. Usually, this will be done by dealing a top card in the deck on the table, face down. This is called the ‘burn’ card and it is not in the game play. This is followed by another three cards, facing up at the center of the table. These are flop cards that players usually use to make best five-card poker hand. When the flop is dealt, the first betting round of post flop will start. Essentially, the rules of the post flop round are similar to the preflop betting rounds, with just two exceptions. First, the first player that acts is the next player with the hand at the left side of the dealer. Second, the first player that acts can also bet or check. Since there has been no bet that has been made, then the call is free.
The Turn – Texas Holdem Rule
When the betting round on flop comes to an end, which means that any players that want to view the next card already matches the value amount of the bets, the dealer ‘burns’ a card in a face down position, out of play. This is followed by one face up card at the center of the table right beside the three flop cards. As soon as the turn is dealt, the third betting round will begin.
The River – Texas Holdem Rule
Let us assume that there are more than one player that are yet to fold on the previous rounds, the river will be dealt. It is essential to mention that dealing the river is similar to dealing the turn with a single card being burnt face down and followed by another single card face up. This is usually the final street with no more cards available to be dealt in that hand. This betting round is very similar to the betting round found in the turn.
Showdown – Texas Holdem Rule
When the betting round of the river has ended, the players can then enter into showdown. At this stage, the best five-poker hand will win the pot. There are some rules you need to be conversant with when it comes to Texas Holdem showdown.
- If there is no betting round on the river and all players already checked, the player that is closest to the left side of the dealer should reveal their hand first. This process should continue clockwise across the table.
- The player that bets on the river is by default the first player to open their hand. In case any other player decides to open their hand first, there is no problem with that.
- If a player holds a losing hand, they have the option to open their cards or muck their hand to concede the pot.
Best Five-Card Hand of Texas Holdem Rules
When playing Texas holdem, it is essential that you make the best five-card possible by utilizing any blend of two hole cards in your hands and the other five community cards that are at the table. Note that you can choose to use, one, both, or none of the hole cards with you to make the best hand. Let us look at some rules associated with the evaluation of winning poker hand.
First, you must remember the approved poker hand rankings. Generally, there is no exception to the order – a flush will always win a straight, and three of a kind will always win two pair. Second, there are basically no hands that are used in Texas holdem different from the hands that have been highlighted so far. For instance, if you have three pairs, you only have ‘two pair’ in the real sense of the word, and the highest valued two-pair is what makes your final hand. Third, the final hands of poker must have precisely five cards and just one of the cards will be used to assess the winning hand.
For instance, let’s say the board has 2♥ A♦Q♣ J♣ K♠, the first player has T♠ 9♣, and the second player has T♣ 2♣. Here, both players are holding the same hand and this means the pot will be split into two equal parts for the two players. When the winning poker hand has been determined, the player with the hand will receive the pot. The dealer will pass the dealer button to their left hand side and the two players that are on the left side of the new dealer will put down their small and big blinds.
Other Rules that apply to Texas Holdem
In addition to the rules that have been highlighted, there are other rules of the game that players should be aware of. Let us look at each of these rules in detail.
Rules of Buying Chips
The least number of chips that a player is permitted to purchase before they deal their first hand will be determined by the applicable house rules that are governing the game. Usually, the minimum is between 50 and 100 times the game’s big blind. In addition, there is really no maximum number of chips that a player can buy at any given time. If it is a cash game, a player has the opportunity to add, or reload additional chips to their existing stack any time between the dealt hands. As soon as a hand is dealt, a player can only utilize the chips that they have in the game play from the beginning of the hand. A player cannot use any extra chips during the game play until the next hand is dealt.
The Rules of Raising
A player at a Texas holdem table must first verbally declare their intention to raise before they take any action. An alternative is to bring the same amount of chips of the amount of raise into their game play at exactly the same time. No player is allowed to place their chips, return stack, and place additional chips. This act is usually referred to as string bet.
Although the rules of the game might look a little intricate when you look at them but they are really easy to understand when practicing. Of course, it is a great deal to read about the rules and understand them but the best way to learn the rules is in the application, and the only way you can apply the rules is by engaging in the real game of Texas holdem.
You don’t have to start playing like a professional or play with a pro. You can simply play with a friend at home or play a demo game online. It is highly recommended that you play demo games and understand the rules and how the game is played before you start playing for real money. As a matter of fact, we recommend that you take some online Texas holdem for a couple of games before you start playing at real game. This will help you get comfortable with the game and better understand the rules that apply. By the time you start playing for real, you would have become a better player and you would be able to play your hands at a faster pace. When it comes to playing for real money, it is important that you choose your online platform carefully. Ensure that the casino site you want to sign up with is reputable and licensed in your region to offer casino platform. This is to avoid losing your deposits at the end of the day.