When you decide that you want to learn how to play Texas Hold ’em, there are several things you need to know. Like most any other poker game, Texas Hold ’em is played with a standard 52-card deck. The game can be played by any number of players, from two all the way to eleven, because unlike other stud poker games, most of the cards in Texas Hold ’em are “community” cards. Community cards are cards that the dealer places face up, in the middle of the table for all of the players to use, however the cards best suit the individual player’s hand.
Winning Texas Holdem Hands
The object of Texas Hold ’em, like all poker games, is to form the highest possible five card hand, using any combination of the available cards. This includes the cards from your hand, and the community cards on the table. The hands in Texas Hold ’em are ranked the same as any other game of poker. From highest to lowest, they are:
- Royal Flush
- Straight Flush
- Four of a Kind
- Full House
- Three of a Kind
- Two Pair
- One Pair
- High Card
How Betting in Poker Works
Before a hand of Texas Hold ’em can start, the blinds must be posted. Bets that are made before any of the players get to see any cards are called blinds. At the start of a Hold ’em hand, after the blinds have been posted, all players are dealt two cards, face down. This pair is known as your hole or pocket cards.
Players will then have make a decision to call the blinds, which means they will match the highest blind bet. Raise the blinds, which means they will increase the bet. Or, they can fold the hand, which means they will quit playing and put their cards back on the table, face down.
In the type of Texas Hold ’em known as “limit”, the bets have to be of a certain specified amount. In “No-Limit,” the players are allowed to bet any amount from the chips they have on the table.
If you are new to the game, you should know that most seasoned players will fold if both of their hole cards are not 10s or greater. Yes, it may seem daunting at first, but it can help to keep you playing only the cards that you should, and it can help to keep you in the game longer.
Make sure that you never show the two cards in your hand to other players at the table, even if they are players that are no longer in the hand. After you have looked at your cards and laid them on the table, you will want to place something on top of them. That way, the dealer will know not to collect them.
Poker Betting Rounds
After the betting is done on the round with only the cards in your hand, the dealer will then lay three cards out on the center of the table at the same time. This placement of cards is known as the flop. As soon as the flop is laid out, each player at the table will have a unique, five card poker hand made up of their two hole cards, and the three community cards.
Because of the number of cards involved, the flop will typically give you a general idea of what the poker hand might look like, and will definitely give you a good idea of the kind of hand to look for, in order to win. For example, an all Hearts flop will be hinting at a flush as a strong possibility for your winner.
Betting will begin with the first person that has not folded, to the left of the dealer. As a general rule, you want the flop to make your hand look more promising, and you should definitely consider folding if it does not.
If you are playing “limit” Texas Hold ’em, the size of the bet you are allowed to make on the flop is the same as the amount you can make pre-flop.
After the flop betting round is completed, a fourth community card is laid out. This card is known as the turn, or sometimes fourth street. Each remaining player now has a six card poker hand, made up of his two private hole cards, and the four community cards. Although players have an additional card at this point, Texas Hold ’em only allows five cards to count towards your hand.
If you are playing a “limit” game, the betting will now be twice the amount that it was before and on the flop.
After the betting round of the turn, one final community card is put down. This final card is known as the river, and is sometimes called fifth street.
Each player left in the game has his final hand made up of the best five cards, chosen from the seven available (the two private cards in your hand, and the five community cards). Players may use their two hole cards along with three community cards, one hole card combined with any four community cards, or just the five community cards. The last option is known as playing the board. Again, your poker hand will be made up of the best five cards, the remaining cards do not count. Then, there is a final round of betting.
The showdown is what happens after the final river bets have been placed, and the remaining players are ready to show their cards. The person who initiated the final round of betting is usually the first to show their hand. This isn’t a formal rule, though it is generally followed.
After that first player has acted, the other players are allowed to makes their moves, by either mucking their hands; which means giving them up as a loss if they can’t beat what is already on the table, or showing a better hand. At this point, the dealer will muck the “worse” hand and continue around the table for all remaining hands.
Texas Hold ’em hands will be ranked by the standard poker hand ranking.
If the players are ever unclear about who is winning a hand, they can turn their cards face up and let the dealer decide. It is good practice to never take a player’s word on what he or she has in hand, until you have actually seen the cards with your own eyes. If you muck a hand early, it is dead no matter what cards your opponent turns up.