Best Online Texas Holdem Rooms
- Poker Site Ranking Bonus Score ReviewPlay
- 1. Pacific Poker £ 8 9.4 Review Play
- 2. Titan Poker $2000 9.3Review Play
- 3. Victor Chandler €10009.2 Review Play
- 4. PokerStars $600 9.2 Review Play
- 5. Bwin Poker $500 9.2 Review Play
- Poker Site Ranking Bonus Score ReviewPlay
- 6. Ladbrokes £259.2 Review Play
- 7. William Hill €12509.0 Review Play
- 8. Intertops $600 8.7 Review Play
- 9. PKR 3D Poker $800 8.6 Review Play
- 10. Cake Poker $500 8.5 Review Play
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Online Texas Holdem
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TEXAS HOLDEM BASICS
- Texas holdem fundamentals
- Game instruction step-by-step
- Hand ranking
- Buy-ins and table stakes
- Betting, calling, checking, folding
- Texas holdem rules
- Where to play
- Responsible play
- Poker terms
STEP-BY-STEP TEXAS HOLDEM GAME INSTRUCTIONS
Texas Holdem is the most commonly played poker game today, and is the Main Event game played at the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour. You’ll also find this game on every online poker site, including the most poker site in the world, PokerStars.com, so it’s a good one to master. We’ll explain here step-by-step how to play a hand. We won’t go into strategy or bluffing, so please read those sections once you’ve played a few hands and understand the basics.
1. THE END OF ONE HAND AND THE BEGINNING OF THE NEXT
After a game ends, the person who has the dealer button gives it to the player to their left. The dealer button can be anything you want – it’s just used to indicate who the theoretical dealer is in games when there is only one dealer, such as at a casino. In home games, you might not use a dealer button and just hand the cards to the next person to the left if everyone is taking turns dealing. Once the dealer button or cards have been handed over, the two players to the left of the person with the dealer button have to post blind bets to start the game.
2. FIRST BETTING ROUND: PRE-FLOP
To win at Texas Holdem poker you have to either have the strongest five-card hand at the end of the game, or be the last player standing since everyone else has folded. In either case, you get the money in the pot. Poker hands are ranked according to their probability, with the least-likely as the strongest, and the most-likely as the weakest.
Blind bets: small blind and big blind
Before the cards are dealt, there needs to be some money in the pot to get the action started. This is the responsibility of the small and big blinds. They’re called blinds because the players have to put their bets in the pot without knowing what their hand is (remember, the cards haven’t been dealt yet). They’re also called ‘forced bets’ for this reason.
The first person directly to the left of the dealer is the small blind, and the person to their left is the big blind.
How do you know what the amounts of the blinds are?
The small blind is usually ⅓ or ½ of the smaller betting denomination (minimum) in a high-low game. For example, if it’s a $2-$4 game, the small blind would be $1. In a $3-$6 game, it could be $1 or $2 – you need to find out if you’re not sure.
The big blind is usually the same amount as the smaller betting denomination. In a $2-$4 game, it would be $2, and in a $3-$6 game, it would be $3.
After the two blinds have put their money in the pot, the dealer deals out two cards to each player (one at a time), starting with the small blind. See our section on how to deal a hand for a specific description on how the hand is dealt.
After everyone has very discreetly looked at their two cards (called their ‘hole cards’ or ‘starting hand’), action begins with the player to the left of the big blind. This is where an understanding of betting comes into play. In order to stay in the game and be able to remain until the end of the hand (the ‘showdown’), you need to put as many chips into the pot as is necessary to match the bet. This is called ‘equalizing the bets.’ Put another way, if the bet (the highest amount of chips put in so far by any one person) is $10 worth of chips, you need to put $10 worth of chips in the pot in order to stay in the game.
At the beginning of a hand and after the two blinds have posted their bets, in a $2-$4 game, because the big blind put in $2, the bet is currently $2. That means the person to the left of the big blind needs to put in at least $2 into the pot if they want to continue, or they can fold if they don’t. Folding means relinquishing your claim to the pot and you’re out of that hand. Please see our section on betting and folding for a detailed explanation.
If your hand is very strong, you can raise when it’s your turn. You need to find out the rules of the table you’re playing at what the raising amounts are and the number of times you can raise per betting round. For example, let’s say you can raise by $1 during the first two betting rounds, which the person to the left of dealer button does, making the bet now at $3: current bet total of $2 + $1 raise = $3 bet. The action continues clockwise.
Returning to our example, let’s say that nobody else raised, so when it’s your turn to act, you need to put in $3 worth of chips. The action continues again clockwise until returning finally to the first person who bet the small blind. Remember, they only put in $1 so far, and now the bet is up to $3, so if they want to stay in the game, they need to put in $2, or fold if they don’t like their cards. Then the action moves to the next player, the big blind. They already have $2 in the pot, so for them to stay in, they need to put in $1 to equalize their bet to $3.
Betting might sound confusing at first, and the first few times you try it out, it might be a little awkward. The best way to get comfortable with how betting works is to play online. PokerStars.com is especially useful for learning as they have pre-select buttons that will show you what options are available to you when it’s your turn to act. This includes telling you how much you need to put in the pot in order to stay in the game, or how much you can raise by (and if you can), so it’s great for guiding beginners and is much more comfortable than learning live in front of other people where you don’t want to make mistakes or ask too many questions (which you will probably have your first few games).
3. SECOND BETTING ROUND: THE FLOP AND THIRD STREET
Once all of the bets have been equalized, the dealer moves the chips into the pot and deals out three community cards face-up, called ‘the flop’ or ‘board cards.’ Community cards are face-up for all players to use in their hand.
The action starts with the small blind if they’re still in the game, or the first player to their left who is still in the game if they’ve folded. They can check (not put any chips in the pot), bet the minimum ($2 in a $2-$4 game) or fold. (You wouldn’t normally fold if nobody’s bet yet; if there aren’t any bets that require you to put more chips in the pot in order to match the bet, you should stay in the game since it won’t cost you anything and you might get lucky on the turn or river.)
Play moves clockwise until all bets are equalized.
4. THIRD BETTING ROUND: THE TURN AND FOURTH STREET
The dealer deals one more community card, the turn, face-up for everyone to use. Again, play moves clockwise with the first active player to the left of the dealer (or the person with the dealer button), until all bets are equalized.
The betting amount in the turn goes up to the higher, or maximum betting limit in High-Low games (how most people play Texas Holdem). In our $2-$4 game, bets start at $4 on the turn. Raises also go up – you need to find out what it is at your table. $2 or $4 would be common raise denominations for this game.
5. FOURTH AND FINAL BETTING ROUND: THE RIVER AND FIFTH STREET
The dealer deals the final community card, the river, and action starts with the first active player to the left of the dealer (or dealer button) and moves clockwise until all bets are equalized. The betting limit is again at the higher denomination ($4 in a $2-$4 game).
6. THE SHOWDOWN
After the bets are equalized at the end of the river, all of the active players who are left in the game turn their cards over to reveal who has the best five-card hand. They can use all of the community cards (called ‘playing the board’) or any combination of their two personal hole cards and the five community cards. Whoever has the strongest hand wins the pot. If there is a tie (as can be the case with matching hands), the pot is split accordingly.
It is possible that all but one player folds during the game before the showdown. The game ends at that point with the last active player winning the pot. They don’t need to show their cards.
To get an excellent grasp of the flow of the game, it is highly recommended to play Texas Holdem online. As already mentioned, PokerStars.com is user-friendly, especially for beginners. It’s low-stress since it’s not face-to-face and you can practice in the comfort of your own home. Who knows? With time, you might be the next Chris Moneymaker, who earned his seat at the WSOP playing online!
- Introduction to Tournaments
- Tournament Formats
- Poker Tournament Rules - General
- Tournament Strategy - general
- Online Poker Tournaments
- Online Poker Tournament Rules - General
- Online Tournament Strategy
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- History of Women in Poker
- Professional Female Players
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- Ladies’ Tournaments
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Hosting a Home Game
- Hosting a game
- Dealer's Choice
- How to deal a hand
- Drink and food
- Strip poker
- Poker Books
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