Texas Hold’em poker is well-known owing to the spotlight granted by television and movies. The simplicity of the rules and the trend has made Texas Hold ’em a favourite at online and live casinos. But if you are a beginner that has just stepped into the world of gambling, then you might wonder how to play this game. And we are here to the rescue! This is a detailed guide on Texas Holdem.
Card and Hand Values of Texas Holdem
The three most important aspects of poker games are card values, card poker hand using combinations, and their ranks. These three determine the winners of poker games. All poker games (the classic and the variants) are based on the final 5 cards held by the players. Each of those final hands has a value, and that value is determined by the card rank and the hand combination rank. The final hand with the highest value is the best, and this five-card poker hand wins the game.
Texas Hold’em Card Values and Ranks.
You play Texas Hold’em with a 52 card deck. Each card has a face value and a rank. The face value and the rank of these cards impart value to a poker hand. Let us look at the rankings:
Rank 1: Ace
The face value of an Ace can be either 11 or 1.
Rank 2: King
The face value of a King is 10.
Rank 3: Queen
The face value of a Queen is 10.
Rank 4: Jack
The face value of a Jack is 10.
Rank 5: Card of face value 10.
Rank 6: Card of face value 9.
Rank 7: Card of face value 8.
Rank 8: Card of face value 7.
Rank 9: Card of face value 6.
Rank 10: Card of face value 5.
Rank 11: Card of face value 4.
Rank 12: Card of face value 3.
Rank 13: Card of face value 2.
The four suits in a deck do not have any value in poker. However, they are important in hand combinations.
Texas Hold’em Poker Hands.
The value of the five-card hand decides the winner of a poker game. A five-card hand is a group of five cards held by a player, and the combination has a value in a game of poker. 10 poker hand combinations can let you win a game of poker. Player with the best five-card hand gets the pot.
These poker hand combinations are not specific to Texas Holdem and are used in all poker variations. Let us look at the ten winning five-card poker hand combinations. These hands are listed from high to low rank:
A five-card poker hand containing an Ace, a King, a Queen, a Jack and a card of face value 10. All cards should be of the same suit. This is the best possible 5 -card poker hand combination. A player who got this hand wins the pot.
A hand containing five cards in progressive or regressive values. For example, a set of five cards containing 3,4,5,6 and 7 or 7,6,5,4 and 3. All the cards should be of the same suit. This is the second-best five-card poker hand combination.
Four of a Kind
A hand containing five cards and four of them are of equal value—for example, a 10, a Jack, a Queen, another 10 and a 2. The cards need not belong in the same suit. This hand is also called a quad.
A full house contains five cards, three of whom are of a particular value, and the remaining two are of another value. In short, a full house is a combination of three of a kind and a pair. For example, 10,10,10,2 and 2.
A poker hand that contains cards all belonging to the same suit. Each card can be of any value.
A five-card poker hand containing cards in progressive or regressive sequence but does not belong to the same suit.
Three of a kind
A 5- card poker hand that contains three cards of the same value. The remaining two cards can be of any value each—for example, 5,5,5, 7 and 8.
A hand containing two pairs of different values. Two cards are of the same value, the second pair of cards are of the same value, but that value is different from the first pair, and the remaining one card can be of any value, for example, 5,5,8,8 and 4.
Two of the five cards are of the same value—for example, 5,5,8,6 and an Ace.
When a hand contains none of the above combinations, then the highest value card is considered—for example, 8,4,2,9 and a Queen. Here, the Queen is the card with the highest value, so it is the high card. This is the worst possible five-card poker hand.
Learn How to Play this Game
You have learned about the card values, winning hand combinations and their ranks. Now it’s time to play Texas Hold’em. This guide will help you learn all about Texas Hold em; the actions, rules, and gameplay; soon, you will be bossing the game. Let us begin with the actions.
Actions are what players do in a casino game for the game to progress. Each player in Texas Hold’em has a choice of four actions at the beginning of the game. These actions are performed in a betting round. The actions are Call, Raise, All-in and Fold.
When a player places a similar bet on the player’s bet on the immediate right.
When a player places a bet, that is at least a double in an amount to the player’s bet on the immediate right.
When a player bets all the chips that the player bought before the game began. This is a very risky move, and a player goes all-in only when that player is confident that there is a very high chance of winning.
When a player forfeits the hand and exits from the game, a player usually folds when that player has a bad hand and realizes there is no possibility of winning.
These actions can be performed throughout a game of Texas Hold’em.
After the first betting round is over, a player gets two extra actions in the kitty, and they are Bet and Check.
It’s the act of placing a wager on the table. A player can bet a preferred amount.
When a player withholds any action in a betting round to see what other players are doing, a player cannot withhold action forever, and a player must act after a betting round is a complete post check.
These two extra actions can be performed from the second betting round to the end of the game.
Texas Hold’em rules.
There can be a minimum of two players and a maximum of eight players in Texas Holdem. The first player is always the dealer. The game progresses clockwise around the table, with each betting round starting with the first player (the dealer) and ending with the player on the dealer’s immediate right.
There are four rounds of betting in Texas Hold’em. Players perform all the actions in the betting rounds.
The first round of betting
The first betting round happens before the first three community cards are dealt. This betting round is called the Pre-Flop betting round. The player to the left of dealer is the first player to act in this betting round. This player places the small blind on the table. The small blind is a bet of a certain amount. The player on the left of the small blind player places the big blind. The amount of the big blind must be double that of the small blind.
After the small blind and the big blind have been placed, two cards are dealt with each player. Each of the two cards is hole cards meaning they are dealt face down. It means a player is dealt two cards face down, and a player can see only the cards dealt with that player. This is the only time in the game that a player is dealt two private cards. The other cards that a player is dealt with are the community cards. After the hole cards are dealt, the first player to act is the player on the left of the big blind player.
That player can either call, raise or fold. The betting round continues clockwise, with each player performing any of the three actions. The betting round ends with the big blind player. In the end of the round, the dealer collects all the bets and puts them in the pot.
The second round of betting
The first three comm cards are dealt with in this round of betting. Community cards are the cards placed in the middle of the table, and all the players can use them to build their poker hands. Unlike hole cards, the community cards are dealt face up. The first set of community cards dealt face up is called the Flop.
After the Flop is dealt, the second betting round begins. The player on the left of the dealer is the active player ( an active player is any player who is performing an act at the moment), and this round of betting begins with that player and ends with the dealer. A player may either check or bet (call or raise) or fold or go all-in in this round. If a player checks, then that player must act at the end of the round. If that happens then, the round will end with that player.
Again, the dealer collects all the bets of this round and puts them in the pot. Another round of betting follows this round.
The third betting round
The fourth community card is dealt with in the third betting round. The fourth community card is also called the Turn. This community card is also dealt face up. The first active player is the player on the dealer’s left. This round continues like the previous rounds, with the players either betting, checking, holding or going all-in.
The dealer collects all the bets at the end of this round and places them in the pot before beginning another betting round.
The final betting round
The fourth betting round is the final betting round in Texas Holdem. It begins with dealing with the fifth community card. This round progresses just like the previous round.
There are no placing bets in this round. Here, each player must reveal the hand of two hole cards. There are five comm cards on the table, and each player will add any three of the five community cards to the two hole cards to make the best possible five-card poker hand. Every player’s hand is compared with the other players’ hands, and the best five-card hand wins the pot.
Summary of Texas Hold’em rules.
- There are four wagering rounds in Texas Hold’em. The actions take place in these rounds.
- There must be a minimum of 2 players. The player who acts at a particular moment is called the active player.
- The blind bets are placed in the first round. The player on the dealer’s immediate left places the small blind bet. The player on the immediate left of that player places the big blind bet. The amount of the big blind bet must be double of the small blind.
- Each player gets two hole cards once during the entire course of Texas Hold’em. Those cards are dealt face down.
- There are a total of 5 comm cards. Three cards are placed on the table after the first round and the beginning of the second round. Then one card each is placed at the beginning of the third and fourth round.
- Players make the best possible five-card with the hole cards and the community card set: three cards from the comp card set and the two cards in the player’s hand.
- The best hand wins the pot.
If two players in a Texas Hold’em game have the same card combination, then the high card will come into play. The card with the highest value in each hand will be compared, and whoever’s hand has the card with the higher hand value will win.
Two players have the same high-ranked hand after the showdown. Player 1 has 6,6,10,10, and Q. Player 2 has a hand that shows 6,6,10, 10 and 4. Both of the players have a Two Pair combination. Other players have hand ranks that are lower than this. Each card in Player 1’s hand is compared with the corresponding card in Player 2’s hand. Player 1 has the best hand in this scenario because of the 5th card (Queen is higher than 4). Player one is the winner.
The card that determines the winner in case of a tie is called a kicker card.
A player will win at Texas Hold’em if all the other players have folded. It would not matter what hand that player had.
Texas Hold’em Tips
The worst position at a poker table is the one just on the left of the dealer. You will be very vulnerable if you sit there. You will place the small blind bet in the first round, and you will do so blindly and only on instinct. You have no idea what cards you and the other players will get, so you cannot say whether your bet was appropriate.
You will be at a disadvantage even during the following rounds as you will not know about the actions of other players (since they would be happening after you have acted). The actions give you a clue of what hands the players have.
The best position at a poker table is the place on the right of the dealer. This is the last person to act after everyone else has acted. If you sit here, you will know how powerful your opponents’ hands are. This is crucial knowledge in Texas Hold’em.
Always try to sit on the right-hand side of the dealer in a game. In case you find yourself sitting on the left side of the dealer, use it to your advantage by playing aggressively. But overall, acting last is the best option.
Notice the number of players at the table
Focus on the number of players playing at the table because that determines your hand’s strength and, consequently, your actions. A weak hand when there are 7 contending players might be strong against two players as the competition is less. The number of players also affects your gameplay. Play aggressively if there are fewer players.
Keep a close eye on the actions of other players.
Do not just concentrate only on your hand and the community cards while chalking out a course of action. That would be a fool’s errand. Your job is to find out how ahead or behind you are against your opponents. You can never get a clear picture of that as all the players will be holding their cards close to the chest and away from your eyes. But you can get an idea of it by focusing on your opponents.
Notice how many chips every player has (a rough count will do). After analyzing the community cards, make a quick mental analysis about what cards they might have and their best hand combinations.
Watching the other players’ actions can also prove to be useful—notice who is bluffing, who is playing a tighter game. You should be wary of a player who hasn’t bet more than $10 so far but suddenly bets $50 in one round in a particular game. The player may have something strong in the cards.
Raise before the Flop
Since the community cards are a big part of the game, many players consider the pre-flop round as not a good time to bet big. It is safer to see the three big cards first before raising the bet. Players love to see the Flop as cheaply as possible. Don’t give them that opportunity. Raise at least by the minimum bet in the pre-flop round. You might encourage some to fold and, in doing so, save your neck. Let us show this by the following example.
Suppose you have been dealt an A, K. Two other players have been dealt 10,5 and 7,4, respectively. These are not very strong hands, while your hand is a great one. You place the same bet as the big blind (call), which did not encourage the two players to fold. The Flop is revealed, and it is a 10,9,8. This is a disaster for you. The 10,5 opponent now has a pair of 10s, and the 7,4 opponent has an open-ended straight. You, on the other hand, have nothing.
Now let us look at this scenario from another possibility. You raised the bet over the big blind in the round before the flop is revealed. Your bet is more than double of the big blind. Your opponents immediately go in the backfoot as they do not have strong hands and are placing a big bet on weak hands. They decide to fold and goes out of the competition. You remove them before the Flop is revealed, a Flop that would have made their hands much stronger than yours.
In the first scenario, you wasted a great starting hand, but you made the best use of it in the second scenario.
Don’t hesitate to fold after the Flop.
Many players think twice before folding after the Flop has been revealed. They think that they have already betted money, and so they might as well see what happens. This kind of thinking might result in the loss of a lot of money.
Never hesitate to fold post-flop even if your cards are strong. For example, you have an A, K and the Flop reveals J, J,5. This Flop does nothing good to your hand and will make you an underdog if another player has a J. Even if an Ace or King comes with the Turn card or the River card, you will still lose to triple Js. It is better to fold if you do not hold a big pair, and Flop does no good to your hand.
You should also be open to folding when the Flop has gone your way. For example, you have a Q,6, and the Flop shows K,10,6. You might get carried away by the fact that you have two 6s, but the K and 10 can be very dangerous. If any other player has a K or 10, you have no chance of winning.
When folding in such circumstances, do not think of the money you are losing but the money you save.
Play strategy during the Turn and River
Follow these simple steps during Turn and River play to stay ahead of your opponents:
- The Turn card is revealed, and you have a draw. It means you need one more card to have a good hand. The typical final hand you are expecting is a Straight or a Flush. In this case, do not raise your bet before the River is revealed.
- If you are sure that you have the best hand after the Turn card is revealed, then raise your bet and make it as expensive as possible for your opponents to reach the River card.
- If the community card set has a pair, then you might be against a Full House (if one of your opponents has a pair and the community set contains a card of that pair value). Plan your action accordingly.
- If the board shows three cards of the same suit, one of your opponents can achieve a Flush (if that opponent has a hand where the cards belong to the same suit).
Utilize your Check action
Don’t go about betting and raising aggressively. Use the Check action judiciously to judge your opponents. Your battle is against them, and that action allows you to assess your opponents. It will help you to take better actions.
Keep all of these in mind when you play Texas Hold’em.
How to Play Texas Hold em: The Mumbo-Jumbo You Need to Know
Now that you are familiar with the rules and have some idea about the game let us dive into the technical jargon and terms. It is necessary to familiarize yourself with these terms if you want to learn how to play Texas Hold’em.
The Blinds: Small Blind and Big Blind
You will know who is the nominal dealer as they are marked with a ‘button’ or label. The game goes in the clockwise direction, so the next player places the first forced bet, the small blind. The next player can place a big blind, which is usually twice the amount of a small blind. The sizes of these blinds depend upon the betting system that is deployed. In some games, all the players are required to put a small amount into the pot. After this, all the players are given their two hole cards.
The Betting Alternatives
Like other poker forms, Hold ’em also has the fold, check, call, raise, and betting actions. These alternatives depend upon the actions taken by the preceding players. If none of the players has placed bets, you can either check (not make a bet, keep the cards) or place a bet. But if a bet has been placed, then you can call, raise, or fold. The call is when you make the same bet as the preceding player and ‘raise’ matches the previous bet amount and raises it.
After viewing the hole cards, each player can now play their hand by calling or raising the big blind. The real action starts to the left of the big blind. This player has the choice to call, raise, or fold. The betting continues clockwise until the active players have made equal bets to the pot.
By now, there are three face-up cards on the board, and they are called ‘flop.’ all the active players can use the flop. The bets on the flop start with the player to the left to the button. The betting choices are similar to pre-flop.
This happens after the betting on the flop is completed. The ‘turn’ is the fourth card added to the board. The betting on this card also takes place in the same manner as flop and pre-flop.
The card that follows the turn is called the river. This is the fifth card that is placed face-up on the board. The same betting happens for this card too.
If there is one player left, then the player shows their cards and takes the pot. However, if there are two or more players left, then the player immediately to the dealer’s left reveals their cards first. The player with the victory hand takes the pot. In case there are identical hands, the pot is halved and shared with the two winners. Hold ’em rules consider all suits equal.
After this, a new game begins, and the button is shifted clockwise to the next player.
So, this is how to play this game. The game is easy to learn but difficult to master. But thanks to the rise of online casinos, you can now play Hold ’em for free on various online casino sites! The practice is the key to perfection, so try out your strategy today!
Texas Holdem Variants
Based on their betting requirements, Hold’em can be categorized into four broad types.
- Limit Hold’em, in which there is a pre-set betting requirement for each round of betting. The bets are of the same size as the big blind on flop and pre-flop. Bets are doubled on turn and river. The players have four betting choices – bet, raise, re-raise, and cap.
- No-Limit Texas Hold’em is where the players can bet any amount. You can bet all your chips if you want to. The minimum bet is the amount bet by the previous player. Here, there is no cap for the number of raises allowed.
- Pot Limit Texas Hold’em where the players can bet any amount, but the amount should not surpass the pot amount. The minimum bet is the bet made by the previous player. Again, this variant has no cap on the number of raises.
- Mixed Texas Hold’em switches between the rules of Limit and No-Limit Texas Hold ’em. And so, the rules switch as mentioned above for Limit and No Limit.