Texas Hold’em Rules
The odds are that when you think of poker the version that you are thinking of is Texas Hold’em. It is important to differentiate the type of rules being played in any poker game as there are in fact a huge number of different ways to play poker, including many officially recognised poker rule sets.
But the reason you generally think of the Texas Hold’em rules as being THE poker rules is because it is the most widespread style of poker played today. The majority of tournaments that you see on TV follow the Texas Hold’em rules, as do casino’s and online poker rooms.
This means that if you are interested in learning poker than the best place for you to start is with Texas Hold’em, as it is these rules that you will be able to get the most out of, find the most opponents and join in the most games.
Before the Rules
A word of warning before we go into the rules. Poker is a game of a lot of skill, there is the understanding of the rules and then there is the understanding of the odds, of being able to read people, be able to bluff and more. If you are thinking of getting into poker then it is recommended that you start at low denomination betting to get used to it, and start to understand the game.
Poker is gambling, but with so much skill and maths involved it is one of the least ‘risky’ forms of gambling around – it is more about skill and probability than guesswork. Which means that you should look to develop those skills before betting with any serious sums of money.
Of course any poker player needs to start somewhere, and the best place to start is the rules…
Interestingly enough the betting starts before anyone even sees a card. The person to the left of the dealer has to put in half the minimum bet (small blind) and the person to their left puts in the minimum bet (big blind). This is known as the ‘buy in’ and ensures one player cannot just fold hands until the end of the game.
Deal the Cards
Once the buy in has been completed the dealer proceeds to deal out the cards to each of the players, starting to their left. Each person receives two cards, face down (the cards are dealt clockwise, and in rotation of one – so each person gets one card before receiving their 2nd card). These two cards are known as pocket cards.Once everyone has had a chance to look at their pocket cards the first real betting begins.
The betting now starts with the person to the left of the big blind. It is their job to decide what action to take now, and only the person who’s turn it is can perform an action.
The possible actions are ‘call’, meaning putting in the amount that the stake is at – in this case it would be the same amount as the big blind. They could ‘raise’ which means putting in the same amount as the stake is (in this case the big blind) and then increasing it by the amount of their choosing (in keeping with rules about maximum raises). If there has been a raise then the ‘call’ becomes that amount – or if a person has already put in then it is that amount over what they already put in.
The final option is to ‘fold’. This means putting in no money and instead giving up on this hand, surrendering all rights to the ‘pot’ (amount of money bet in this hand) no matter what cards come out later in the hand.
This continues until all bets are called, until house maximums have been reached or until every player but one folds (if this happens the last person in collects all the chips and the next hand starts).
Once all the betting is done, and assuming there are still players left in the game, then the next step in Texas Hold’em is the ‘flop’. The flop is the term used for the first turning over of cards to add to the current ‘pocket cards’ that each player is holding.
The dealer ‘burns’ the first card (discards it, not allowing anyone to see what it is) and then proceeds to turn over 3 cards, face up, in a row on the table. These cards are called the ‘flop’.
A player can use the cards to combine with their existing pocket cards to create a ‘hand’. The better the hand the more likely to win the game. But these are not the only 3 cards to be turned over so the game is far from over yet.
Once the flop has been turned over then it is time to have another round of betting, following the same rules as laid out previously.
Once this round of betting is completed it is time for the ‘turn’ which, like the flop, is about seeing more cards – in this case one. The dealer again burns a card and then turns over another card face up. This means that there are now 4 cards face up on the table (there will be 5) you can combine these with your pocket cards to create the best possible hand – so right now 1 card will be ignored (can be from the table or your pocket cards), and at the end of the game 2 will be ignored.
Once this card has been turned another round of betting takes place.
Once the betting is completed there is one final turn of the card, known as the river. Again the dealer burns a card and then turns one card over, face up on the table. In total there should now be 5 cards face up on the table, and your two pocket cards. This is now all the cards that will be in play this hand. You work out what your best 5 card hand is from all 7 cards and proceed to betting again.
The final rounds betting takes place now.
Assuming that there is more than one person left there is a showdown. This means that the players will see the cards of those still in to see who has won. The players reveal their cards, starting with the last person to bet.
If at any point a player wishes to ‘muck in’ they can do. This means conceding the pot without showing their cards. This means that they can keep hidden exactly what they were betting with, this is useful for those who like to keep things a mystery to help with not being worked out.
Once the winner is decided (the person with the highest ranking hand) they collect the pot and a new hand is started.