Before the first cards are dealt, two bets must be posted. These bets are called the big blind
and the small blind
. These are the first bets to go into the pot
, or the amount of chips up for grabs in any given hand.
The amounts of the blinds are predetermined, and the small blind is always half the big blind. The small blind position is always the seat to the left of the dealer, and the big blind is the seat to the left of the small blind. These positions rotate clockwise after each hand.
The dealer will then deal two cards (referred to as pocket cards
or hole cards
) face down to each player, one at a time, starting with the player on his left. Each player then looks at their cards. When it’s their turn, they must then decide if they wish to call
(or match) the current bet, raise
the bet by putting in more money, or fold
their hand without betting.
Each player, starting with the seat to the left of the big blind, makes their choice and acts. If a player raises the bet, each player must now call the new amount, including those who may have already acted. A player may also re-raise, meaning raising again after a raise has already been made. If no player raises the big blind, then the player in the big blind position may raise the current bet themselves, or check to proceed the flop and the next round of betting. A player who has raised and is then re-raised by another may re-raise once more. The round of betting stops when all players have either folded or called the last raise.
The dealer burns
a card, which means they deal it to one side and it is not used in play, and then deals three cards face down. The dealer then turns three cards face up simultaneously; this is called the flop
. These are the first of five community cards
that all players can use, along with their pocket cards, to make the best possible poker hand. The standard poker hand rankings are used.
The player in the small blind position (the first seat to the left of the dealer) is now Under the Gun, meaning they are first to act now and in every subsequent round of betting. They must make a decision as in pre-flop play, with one change: they can choose to check if they don’t want to bet or fold. Many experts advise players to stop here if they do not improve their hand, as they have now seen five of the seven cards they will use. Once again, the betting round ends only when all players have folded or called the last bet or raise.
The dealer burns another card and then deals a fourth community card, called the turn
, face up. There is another round of betting, exactly as after the flop, with the small blind seat being Under the Gun.
After a final burn card, the dealer turns over the fifth and final community card, called the Rive
r. There is one final round of betting. At this point (as before) if all but one player folds, the last player remaining wins the pot. This player may show his hand or muck
it, which means to toss it into the discard pile by the dealer without showing anyone what it was. After betting concludes the showdown occurs.
occurs when a player is called after the River, and could involve anywhere from two players to the entire table, depending on how many have stayed in to this point. The last player to bet shows his cards first. At any point after this, other players in the showdown may muck
their hand, essentially conceding the pot. Just think of mucking as folding. They are admitting they are beat without having to show their cards. Mucking helps keep other players from learning your playing style, such as if you bet heavy on two pairs or like to chase a flush. The best five-card poker hand wins.
The winning player receives the entire pot, with a few exceptions:
- In the event of a tie (including kickers, or tie-breaking cards), the pot is split between all of the winning players (chopping the pot)
- If the winning player went all-in and was not able to cover the cost of additional bets a raises, the side-pot goes to player with the next best hand
That is the essence of TexasHoldEm, but there are a number of other important points to understand.
, or where you sit at a TexasHoldEm table, is a very important factor in how you play. The dealer position
is considered the strongest on any given round, as being on the button
means you act last in every post-flop round. Acting last means you act with the most information, which is essential to making the right decision on whether to bet or raise, check, call or fold.
The game of poker is all about making the right decisions. Being in early position means you are one of the first to act in a round of betting, and is considered weak due to the lack of information you have before you act. Middle position is a bit stronger and falls between the early and the late position. Late position is the strongest, such as the Dealer and the player to his right, who is referred to by some as the cut-off. The cut-off could take the choice away from the Dealer by betting or raising big, bumping him out and becoming the latest player in the hand, and thus in the strongest position.
Besides everyone folding to you, the only way to win a hand is in a showdown. As we said before, the five best cards are used out of any combination between the community cards and the player’s hole cards, which can lead to some interesting situations. For example if the board, or table cards, is AAKK9 and no player has better than a pair of 8’s in their hand, the board is the best possible hand, and all players in the showdown will chop the pot. The same holds true if two players tie a hand. In the event of a flush or a straight, the player holding the highest card in the series wins; if the board has the five highest, the pot is chopped.
One last note; TexasHoldEm can be played as Limit, No Limit, or Pot Limit. Limit HoldEm means that you can only bet up to a predetermined amount, typically equal to the big blind, and raise the same amount. Raises are typically limited to four or five “bets” total, meaning the big blind, the first raise, and then three or four more raises. Pot Limit HoldEm means you can raise up to the current amount in the pot, but no more. No Limit HoldEm is the most dramatic of the three, where any player, at any time, can go all-in and bet everything he has. A player calling an all-in move (going all-in himself) with too few chips creates a side pot, which he cannot win and is separate from the main pot, which he can.
The game of TexasHoldem becomes more and more popular every day, and one of the main reasons for that is the ease with which players can pick up on the rules. At least two players are required for the game to start, and the object is to make the best hand. But remember, TexasHoldEm is often referred to as the game that takes a minute to learn and a lifetime to master.