Driven by the boom in the mid-2000s, Texas Hold’em is the world’s most popular variation of Poker – in both land-based casinos and online. In terms of Poker games, it’s one of the easiest to learn, but takes longer to master, especially if you want to be an experienced player. If you prefer to play online poker here: poker.paddypower.com, you might see different versions of Hold’em, which are distinguishable by their betting limits – the most common is No-Limit. The rules are still the same, no matter what version you’re playing, but to give you a quick run-through, the four main variations are:
- Limit Hold’em: games with a pre-determined betting limit on each round
- No-Limit Hold’em: players can bet any amount, up to the value of all their chips
- Pot-Limit Hold’em: players can bet any amount, up to the size of the pot
- Mixed Hold’em: games that switch between rounds of Limit and No-Limit
Each player will be dealt two face-down cards, which are personal to them, and are also known as hole cards. Players combine their cards with the community cards – these are the one that all players can use – to create the best Poker hand they can. Poker hands must consist of five cards, using any combination of hole and community cards. The hands are ranked by how common they are – with a high card (ace, being the highest) the lowest ranking, and a royal flush (A, K, Q, J, 10 of the same suit) the highest possible hand.
Before games begin, a marker called the ‘button’ indicates who is the ‘dealer’ for that game. The next player clockwise to the dealer posts the small blind, which is the first forced bet, while the next player clockwise to them posts the big blind, which is generally double the value. For example, a $1 small blind and $2 big blind – but of course, these can vary depending on the stakes and the betting structure of the game. Now the game can begin, with numerous rounds of betting and different betting options, which we will now discuss.
With each round that is played, players have four options at their disposal:
- Call: to call is to match the bet of the big blind, which is the minimum that players can wager, until somebody raises
- Check: if no other players have bet, there is the option to check, meaning the player keeps their cards but declines betting. If all players do this, play quickly moves to revealing the next community cards
- Fold: if a player hasn’t got a very good hand, they can forfeit their cards and wait for the next deal. If the option to check is there, it’s preferable to check before folding
- Raise: to increase the betting within the limits of the game. Once a player has raised, that is the minimum stake that can be placed by other players
Rounds of betting
There are four rounds of betting, which lead to the showdown, in which the remaining players reveal their cards and the winner is announced. Some of the rounds are quite similar.
- Round 1: Going in a clockwise direction, starting with the player to the left of the big blind, players choose their betting options, before the flop. This is where the dealer burns the first card and then reveals the first three community cards face-up to the table
- Round 2: Starting with the player to the left of the dealer, players choose their betting options, before the turn. Here, the dealer burns another card before revealing the fourth community card to the table
- Round 3: Gameplay follows the same suit as the last round, before the river. This is the fifth and final community card, and like previous rounds, he burns a card from the deck before revealing the card to the table
- Round 4: There is a final round of betting, as per the previous rounds and then it is the showdown
- Showdown: Using their best five-card combination, the players left in the game reveal their hands – usually starting with whoever bet or raised last going first. The winner is the player with the highest-ranking hand, and if there is a tie, the pot is split between all winning players
There you have it – your guide to Texas Hold’em. Like most games, the easiest way to understand it is to give it a go. Online, you’ll find games that cater to all bankrolls, as well as guides for beginners to get started. Who knows, you may have found your new favourite casino game.