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The Basic Rules of Texas Hold’em

The ultimate goal of the game is to win as many chips as possible from your opponents. This is done by making card combinations, where the intention is that your card combination is better than that of your opponent. Each player starts with two face-down cards (hole cards) in their hand. Eventually, there will be five face-up cards on the table that are subsequently revealed over the course of three betting rounds, the so-called community cards. Of these seven cards, each player chooses the five best to make the highest possible combination. The value of the card combinations is the same in all online poker games. Below we show the possible combinations and their value, from highest to lowest possible combination.

Hands in Texas Hold’em

  1. Royal flush -A, K, Q, J, 10, all the same suit.
  2. Straight flush -Five cards in a sequence, all in the same suit.
  3. Four of a kind - All four cards of the same rank.
  4. Full house - Three of a kind with a pair.
  5. Flush - Any five cards of the same suit, but not in a sequence.
  6. Straight - Five cards in a sequence, but not of the same suit.
  7. Three of a kind - Three cards of the same rank.
  8. Two pair - Two different pairs.
  9. Pair - Two cards of the same rank.
  10. High Card - When you haven't made any of the hands above, the highest card counts.

How the Cards Are Dealt in Texas Hold’em Poker

Now that we know all the possible combinations, it is time to pay attention to the rules of how the cards are dealt. In Texas Hold’em poker, there is always one person who is the dealer, and this moves one place clockwise after each round. For example, everyone at the table will be a dealer once every round. In online poker rooms, this happens automatically.

The dealer's job is to deal each player two face-down cards. Subsequently, the betting begins (which we will discuss in detail in the next chapter). After everyone has placed their first bet, it is the dealer's turn again. The dealer will discard one face-down card from the deck of remaining cards (this is called burning). The next step will be to place the top three cards of the deck face-up on the table. These three cards are called the flop. 

After this, the second betting round will start. When every player has made another choice, the dealer burns the top card of the stack again and then places one card face-up on the table. This fourth card is called the turn. Now the third betting round can begin. Finally, the dealer burns one more card and places another card face-up on the table. This last card is called the river. Ultimately, there are five open community cards on the table and the final betting round can start. The dealer's job ends here and moves up one place the next round.

Betting Options

Before the cards are dealt, the two players to the left of the dealer place a mandatory bet to create a pot. These bets are called the small and the big blind. The players who place the blind also move up one place each round, just like the dealer. The small blind is usually half the size of the big blind. The exact size of these blinds depends on the game format being played. We will come back to this later.

These blinds count as a bet. When the blinds are in, the cards can be dealt. The player to the left of the big blind starts the game. Each player has five options per betting round:

  • Check: Make no bets and pass the turn on to the next player
  • Bet: Place a bet before someone else has placed a bet in a particular round
  • Fold: Discard the cards and stop playing this round
  • Raise: An extra bet on top of a previously placed bet
  • Call: Put in an equal amount of chips as the highest previous bet

Placing a Bet

After the player to the left of the big blind has placed a bet, the turn passes to the next player. In the first round of betting, checking is not allowed because the big blind has already placed a bet. If a player wants to play the round, a bet of at least the amount of the big blind has to be placed. If one of the players decides to raise (and thus bet more than the amount of the big blind), the other players have three options. First, they can fold and discard their cards. Second, they can call the raise and thus bet just as much as the player who initially raised. Finally, they can raise again and bet even more than the player who made the first raise.

When the bets of all players are equal, the dealer places the first open cards on the table (the flop). When these cards are on the table, the betting round starts all over again. It is also possible to complete this betting round without placing any bets at all if all players are checking. 

Then, the fourth open card comes on the table (turn). This betting round plays out exactly the same way as the betting round after the flop.

Finally, the last open card is on the table (river). This betting round is also the same as that of the flop and the turn. Once all bets are settled, the remaining players show their cards and the player with the highest combination wins the pot. If several players have the same hand the pot is split up amongst them. 

Conclusion

So, that is all you need to know to get started with Texas Hold’em. The game is really that simple to pick up. If you are new to the game we recommend playing with your friends at home or online with play money. It is important to familiarize yourself with the basic concepts before you invest your own hard-earned cash. Once you feel comfortable playing it is a good idea to check out some of our poker strategy guides to learn more advanced tactics that can help you to get the edge over your opponents. Texas Hold’em is easy to learn, but hard to master. Good luck at the tables!

How to Play Texas Hold’em - FAQ

What Are the Best Texas Hold’em Poker Hands?

If you want to find out more about the best Texas Hold’em cards we recommend checking out our “Winning Hands in Texas Hold’em” strategy guide. In this Texas Hold’em guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about the best starting hands and more.

How to Learn Texas Hold’em Strategies?

We have many articles and guides about poker strategies and how to play Texas Hold’em with more advanced strategies. The game is quite complex, so there is always something that you can improve on. Our “How to Win Poker” guide gives you many insights into important concepts of the game.

Andreas Schmidt
Andreas Schmidt
Last Update: 13 Mar 2023
Andreas is our go-to guy for anything related to poker or in-depth guides. He's not only a former professional poker player, but he's also been working within the iGaming industry itself since 2014. Casino, Poker and Sports Betting are his main areas of expertise, in addition to anything and everything related to payment processes at online casinos.
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