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Ultimate Texas Hold’em Poker Guide: Strategies to Win

Texas Hold’em Poker not only is the most popular version of poker in the world, it’s one of the world’s most popular casino games period. You likely have seen it in all the poker tournaments on TV, in brick-and-mortar casinos, and at all of the best online casinos.

Upon first glance you might feel like Texas Hold’em poker looks hard, but it’s not in the least! Our complete guide to Texas Hold’em will have even an absolute beginner playing this popular game in minutes.


Three Good Reasons to Play Texas Hold’em Poker Texas Hold’em Poker

1. Texas Hold’em poker is a game of skill. Nearly every other online casino game favors the house, but Texas Hold’em doesn’t because you are playing against other players instead of the house. While some luck is involved, naturally, the most skilled players usually walk away with the most money. Because you can learn skill through playing experience, Hold’em can be a much more rewarding game than others.

2. Texas Hold’em is dynamic. It is a fast-moving, ever-changing game that requires players to be on their toes. The game dramatically changes every time a card is turned in the middle of the table!

3. Texas Hold’em is easy to learn. While Hold’em strategies take years to master, learning them is easy, and the game itself is a piece of cake.

How to Play Texas Hold’em

Whether you’re playing on one of the best online poker casino sites or at a brick-and-mortar casino, Texas Hold’em game-play follows six stages.

1. The Blinds: Before any cards are dealt, the two players to the left of the dealer post the blinds. In many varieties of poker every player must place a minimum bet – the ante – into the pot before any cards are dealt in order to be included in the deal.

In Texas Hold’em, the only players that bet before the cards are dealt are the two to the left of the dealer. They are called the blinds because the players bet without seeing any cards. All the other players bet after they’ve seen their first two cards.

2. The Hole Cards: The dealer deals two face-down cards to each player (the hole cards). To start play, the player to the left of the player who posted the second blind starts the next round of betting. This is called the pre-flop.

Other players at the table can get in on the game by matching previous bets, or they can fold their hand immediately without betting. Pre-flop betting ends when all players either have bet equal amounts or folded.

3. The Flop: The dealer then throws away the top card of the remaining cards in the deck (called burning the card) in case someone saw the top card and so that no one can cheat during the betting rounds by using marked cards.

The dealer then places the next three cards face-up in the middle of the table. These three cards are community cards, meaning they become part of every player’s hand. There will be five total community cards during the game, and together these five community cards are called the Board.

The objective from this point is for each player to form the best possible five-card poker hand from their two hole cards and the five total community cards (the Board). After the flop has been dealt, another round of betting takes place, beginning with the player to the left of the dealer.

4. The Turn (or “The Fourth Street”): The dealer then burns another card and deals a fourth card among the community cards. This card is called the Turn. Another round of betting takes place, starting with the player to the left of the dealer.

5. The River (or “The Fifth Street”): The dealer then burns another card and deals the fifth and final community card to the center of the table (called the River). The deal is now complete with five face-up cards in the middle of the table. Players bet yet again at this round, starting with the player to the left of the dealer.

6. The Showdown: After the final round of betting is complete, all the players remaining in the game reveal their hole cards. Each player forms the best five-card poker hand they can from their hole cards and the community cards. The best five-card poker hand takes the pot.

What Are the Betting Limits in Texas Hold’em?

Limit Texas Hold’em

In a game of Limit Texas Hold’em, bets can never exceed a maximum limit; however, the game is typically played with a double limit. For instance, in a $5/$10 limit game, you can bet or raise up to $5 in the first three rounds, but you’re allowed to bet or raise up to $10 in the last two rounds.

Pot Limit Texas Hold’em

In a game of Pot Limit Texas hold’em, a bet can never exceed the amount of money in the pot. If there’s $10 in the pot, the maximum amount you can bet or raise is $10. However, if you do, the pot rises to $20 and the next player can bet or raise up to $20.

No Limit Texas Hold’em

As the name says, in No Limit Texas Hold’em you can bet or raise as much money as you wish – or have — in any betting round.

How to Bet at Texas Hold’em Poker: The Blinds

Other poker games always begin with an ante – a mandatory bet that every player must make before the cards are dealt. In Texas Hold’em, only two players are required to make a mandatory bet before the deal. The player immediately to the left of the dealer must make a predetermined small bet (the Small Blind), and the player second to the left must make a predetermined large bet (the Big Blind). The Big Blind is usually twice the Small Blind.

In a brick-and-mortar casino or an online casino, the cards are dealt by a professional dealer, so the deal does not rotate among the players. In that case, a dealer button passes from player to player each round so that the same players are not (unfairly) forced to make the Blinds every game.

The Blinds allow betting to start for a game without committing every player to a bet. Because the deal (or dealer button) rotates among the players each round, every player will eventually be compelled to post a blind before a round.

How to Bet at Texas Hold’em Poker: The Pre-Flop

After the hole cards are dealt, the player to the left of the Big Blind player starts the betting by placing a bet. That player can match the blind (call) or increase it up to a specified limit (raise). The player then puts this money in the pot.

The player may also choose to opt out of the game (fold). No bet is placed, but the player is no longer in the game. The remaining players then call, raise, or fold until every player has bet the same amount or bailed out of the game.

How to Bet at Texas Hold’em Poker: The Flop, the Turn, and the River

The next betting rounds — the Flop, Turn, and the River — proceed in much the same way as the Pre-Flop. The player to the left of the dealer begins the betting. Players may raise, call, or fold just as before, but they also have the option to check (make no bet at all).

The check is unique to Texas Hold’em. A check always begins with the first player to bet. If every other player also checks, no bets are added to the pot in that round and the next card is dealt for “free.” However, if any player places a bet, the round of betting continues with each player choosing to call, raise, or fold until every player has bet the same amount or folded.

Clarifying Showdowns, Kickers, and Tie-Breakers in Texas Hold 'em

As the final round of betting concludes, players disclose their private cards. They attempt to construct the premier five-card hand by integrating their hole cards with the shared community cards, utilizing either one, both, or neither of their private cards. The top-ranking five-card hand clinches victory. Given the communal nature of at least three cards in each hand, it's common for hands to end in a tie or a very close comparison.

Tie situations often hinge on the kicker card. This unused hole card doesn't contribute to the main hand but can break ties between hands of the same rank. It's not unusual for multiple players to secure identical pairs, making the kicker's value crucial. The highest kicker card among competitors in a tie determines the round's victor.

When two or more participants present identical hands and kickers of equivalent rank (suits are irrelevant), the showdown results in a tie, leading to an equal division of the pot among those tied. This guide equips you with the necessary insights to delve into Texas Hold 'em, setting you on a path to refine your skills and engage confidently at premier online poker venues.

Ultimate Texas Hold’em Poker Guide: FAQs

Q: Why should I play Texas Hold 'em Poker?

A: There are three compelling reasons to get into Texas Hold 'em Poker: it's a game of skill, offering dynamic gameplay that's easy to learn but challenging to master. Unlike many casino games where you play against the house, Texas Hold 'em pits you against other players, leveling the playing field and allowing skill and strategy to prevail. Plus, its fast-paced nature keeps the game exciting from start to finish.

Q: How is Texas Hold’em played?

A: Texas Hold 'em follows a sequence of six stages: the Blinds, the Hole Cards, the Flop, the Turn, the River, and the Showdown. Players are dealt two private cards (the "hole cards") and use them in fusion with five community cards (dealt in stages such as the Flop, Turn, and River) to make the best five-card hand. Betting occurs in rounds, starting after the hole cards are dealt and continuing through each stage of community card dealing. The game combines strategy, psychology, and a bit of luck.

Q: What types of betting limits exist in Texas Hold 'em?

A: There are three main betting structures in Texas Hold 'em: limit, Pot Limit, and No Limit. Limit games have fixed bet sizes; Pot Limit allows you to bet up to the total pot amount, and no limit will enable you to bet any amount, up to all of your chips. Each type offers a different strategic depth and risk level.

Q: Can you explain the betting process in Texas Hold 'em?

A: Betting in Texas Hold 'em starts with the blinds—forced bets by the two players left of the dealer to initiate action. After the hole cards are dealt, the wagering phases begin with the Pre-Flop (post-hole cards), followed by the Flop, Turn, and River betting rounds. Players can call, raise, or fold, relying on their confidence in their hand and their reading of other players. The unique option to check or pass on betting is also available if no new bets have been made.

Q: What determines a winning hand in Texas Hold 'em?

A: A winning hand in Texas Hold 'em is the best five-card combination possible using any combination of a player's two-hole cards and the five community cards. The Showdown reveals the players' hands, and the highest-ranking hand wins. In the case of ties, the "kicker" (the highest card not used in the hand) can determine the winner. If hands and kickers are identical, the tied players split the pot.

Q: What is a kicker in Texas Hold 'em?

A: A kicker is a card that is part of your hand but does not directly contribute to the hand's rank. It's used as a tiebreaker between hands of the same rank. If two or more players have hands that rank the same without the kicker, the player with the higher kicker wins. The pot is split if the kickers are also of the same rank.

Q: How do showdowns work in Texas Hold 'em?

A: In the showdown phase of Texas Hold 'em, players who have not folded reveal their hands. The best five-card hand wins the pot. This can be any combination of a player's hole and community cards. In ties, kickers determine the winner, and if the hands are completely identical, the pot is split among those players.

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