Tips and basics on how to play Texas Hold’em. As WPT host Mike Sexton says, “Texas Hold’em takes a minute to learn, but a lifetime to master!”
No-Limit Texas Holdem Basics
Players who signup and participate in APC Texas Holdem Tournaments receive a starting stack of poker chips from the Tournament Director (TD). Players are then seated at a poker table with other players and a Dealer. To win 1st place, you must be the last person remaining in the tournament, having accumulated all the poker chips in play.
- To start a hand one player is the button, the next player clockwise is the small blind, the next is the big blind. These positions are determined by the TD before play begins and rotate 1 spot clockwise after each hand.
- All players are then dealt (clockwise, 1 at a time) 2 cards (called your hole cards) face down, starting with the first player after the button.
- A round of betting occurs, starting with the first player after the button. When it’s your turn you will call, raise or fold.
- If more than 1 player stays in the hand after the first round of betting, then 5 community cards are dealt face up in the middle of the table in stages. First is the Flop (3 cards), then the Turn (1 card) and finally the River (1 card).
- A round of betting occurs after each stage, where you will check, call, raise or fold.
- The last player in the hand wins the pot, if all others fold. If more than 1 player remains in the hand until the end, a showdown occurs where hole cards are revealed.
- Players use their 2 hole cards plus the 5 community cards to make the best 5 card poker hand.
- The highest ranking hand is awarded the pot. A new hand starts.
If you like Holdem, you should give Pot Limit Omaha a try sometime.
Betting Rounds in Texas Holdem
There is one round of forced action called the blinds and four action betting rounds where you have decisions to make whenever it is your turn to act. There is also the conclusion of the hand called the showdown that happens after all the betting rounds are complete.
- Forced Action = Forced Bets called “blinds”. Called ‘blinds’ because when it is your turn you have to make these bets before you see your two hole cards. There is a small blind and a big blind. The small blind is the person just to the left of the dealer button. The big button is just to the left of the small blind. The small blind bet amount is half that of the big blind. If it sounds a bit confusing, it is not. Don’t even worry about this part. Everyone has to pay the blinds equally
- Pre-Flop = This betting round occurs before the flop (the three face up community cards) but after you get your two private cards.
- On the Flop = The flop is when the first 3 community cards are placed face up and are shared by all players. Your two cards plus the three cards on the flop make up your 5 card poker hand.
- On the Turn = The turn is the fourth community card placed face up.
- On the River = The fifth and final community card is revealed and there is a final round of betting. Any active players in the hand after at the conclusion of this betting round go to the final phase of a texas holdem hand called the ‘Showdown’
- Showdown = After the river betting round is complete, the hands are turned face up and the cards are ranked in order of highest to lowest ranking hands
Hand Ranks in Texas Holdem
- Straight Flush – Five cards of the same suit in numerical order. For example 34567 of clubs
- The highest straight flush is the Royal Flush. Ace, King, Queen, Jack & Ten of the same suit.
- Four of a kind – Four cards of the same rank. For example four sevens – 7777
- Full House – Three of a kind plus 1 pair. For example 99922.
- Flush – Five cards of the same suit. For example AK943
- Straight – Five cards in sequential order. For example A2345 or 789TJ
- Three of a kind – Three cards of the same rank. For example 777
- Two pair – Two of the same rank plus two of the same rank. For example KKTT
- Pair – Two of the same rank. For example AA
- High Card – For example A
Your Betting Options Playing Texas Holdem
When it is your turn to act you have the following options:
- Fold – This is where you slide your cards face down to the dealer, giving up in the hand and not risking any additional chips. If you are facing a bet and you do not want to continue in the hand then you fold.
- Check – Checking is passing on your turn to bet. You can only check if there is no bet to you. Such as being first to act on a betting round or having the previous players check to you. You can not check pre-flop in texas holdem because you will always at least have a big blind bet you are forced to call (or raise) if you wish to continue in the hand. You can check in the later rounds if no one bets before action gets to you.
- Call – If there has been a bet before your turn to act, then your choices are fold, call or raise. Calling means only matching the amount someone bet before you so you can stay alive in the hand.
- Raise – This is when you raise the bet by increasing the amount of chips everyone else has to match in order to stay alive in the hand. If someone bets into you can raise the bet to force others to match even more chips to continue in the hand.
- Bet – This is what you do when you are the first person to bet at a pot, forcing others to match your bet or raise to continue in the hand. Essentially if you are first to act after the flop you can bet or make a bet that other people have to match to continue.
Texas Holdem Hand Example
Here is a description of how a typical Texas holdem hand plays out. Keep in mind that during any of the betting rounds the hand can end if all of the players except 1 fold their hand.
- Blinds are placed. If you are the second or first person to the left of the dealer button then it is your turn you put out the big blind or small blind respectively (the dealer will tell you if you are not sure)
- Everyone is dealt 2 private cards. The Dealer deals each player one card at a time starting with the first person left of the button. The deal continues around the table clockwise until all players have 2 cards.
- The first person to act is the person to the left of the big blind and they can do any action except ‘check’ (because they have to at least call the big blind to continue).
- Once the first person acts, it is the next player on the left to act which continues around the table. The action will complete once it gets around to the big blind if no one has raises. Everyone must act each round on their hand. If there is a raise then all players, even those who only called earlier, will be forced to fold, call or re-raise. Assuming the action is complete, the dealer moves on to the next round.
- The dealer deals the flop, which is the first three community cards
- There is a round of betting that from this point forward begins with the person to the left of the button. In this situation the first person to act can check or bet. Folding is not really an option as there is no reason to fold. Action continues around until everyone has a chance to act
- The turn is dealt and a round of betting occurs
- The river is dealt and the final round of betting happens.
- If two or more players are still competing for a pot then we go to Showdown. Hands are revealed and the highest ranking hand wins
Texas Holdem Strategy Resources
Use these resources to improve your poker game.
- Poker Strategy Course for Bar Poker Players (free!)
- Basics of Daily Fantasy Sports Playing – Poker players are naturals at the daily style fantasy sports contests.
You can read all of the Atlanta Poker Club rules if you want but the best way to really learn how to play texas holdem is to come out and play! There is a free texas holdem tournament in Atlanta somewhere tonight, so come out and play!
Also, see How To Play Pot Limit Omaha.