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Texas Hold'em Rules & Hands: Learn How to Play Texas Hold'em Easily

Texas Hold'em is the world's most popular poker and poker online variant. On the surface, the game is simple, which attracts new players in droves. However, delve deeper into the nuances of the game, and Texas Hold'em is a massively deep game filled with psychological warfare, daring bluffs, and thin value bets. It makes no wonder that the late, great Mike Sexton said of Texas Hold'em that "it takes a minute to learn but a lifetime to master."

A Brief History of Texas Hold'em

Robstown, Texas, United States, is where Texas Hold'em originated. The became popular throughout Texas before Corky McCorquodale introduced the game to the California Club in Las Vegas. Players flocked from far and wide to play this new, exciting poker variant, and Texas Hold'em spread like wildfire.

By the 1970s and after the creation of the World Series of Poker, Texas Hold'em became the poker variant of choice in Las Vegas. Initially played with a fixed betting structure, the game evolved into pot-limit, then no-limit. Exposure on television in the early 2000s saw the popularity of Texas Hold'em explode off the chart, and it has remained the number one game ever since.

Texas Hold'em Rules

The rules of Texas Hold'em are simple. The aim of the game is to win a hand by having the best five-card poker hand, or by forcing all your opponents to fold. Of course, there are dozens upon dozens of way to arrive at those scenarios.

A game of Texas Hold'em, whether played as a cash game or a tournament, starts the same way. The player to the immediate left of the dealer (also called the button) pays a predetermined small blind, and the player to the small blind's direct left pays a big blind, which is usually twice the size of the small blind.

The dealer pitches a face down card to every player, in a clockwork direction, starting with the small blind. Once everyone has a face down card, the dealer pitches another face down card until each player has two hidden cards, known as hole cards.

You are now at the preflop stage. A round of betting begins with the player to the immediate left of the big blind. This player has the option to fold, call a bet the size of the big blind, or raise. The action then moves clockwise to each player in turn, and they must either fold, call the largest bet made so far, or raise. This continues until everyone has acted.

If at least two players are still in the hand, the first three face up community cards are dealt, which is known as the flop. This is your first chance to make a five-card poker hand. Another round of betting commences, starting with the player closest to the dealer's left. If at least two players remain in the hand, another face up community card is dealt, known as the turn.

Another round of betting occurs, using the same rules as on the flop. Should two or more players still be contesting the pot, the fifth and final face up community card is dealt. This card is known as the river.

A final round of betting occurs and one of three things can happen:

  • All but one of the remaining players can fold, leaving the player with cards in front of them the winner of the hand
  • More than one player contests the pot, and the winner is determined by who has the best five-card poker hand.
  • More than one player contests the pot, and both hold the same strength hand, resulting in a chop pot where each players receives and equal share of the spoils.

Once the hand is over and the pot is awarded, the small blind, big blind, and dealer all move one seat to the left, and a new hand begins.

Making the Best Poker Hand

In Texas Hold'em, you attempt to make the best poker hand using a combination of your hole cards and the community cards. You can use one or two of your hole cards plus three or four of the community cards. It is possible to use all five community cards, known as "playing the board" but this rarely results in a victory.

If you hold Tc-Ts, your opponent hold As-Ks, and the five community cards read 7c-Qd-5s-Jc-Qs, you win. This is because the best possible hand you can make is Qd-Qs-Jc-Tc-Ts while your opponent  has As-Ks-Qd-Qs-Jc. You have two pair, queens and tens, but your opponent only has a pair of queens.

Now imagine that you hold Tc-Ts, Your opponent holds As-Ks, and the five community cards read 7c-Qd-Js-Jc-Qs. You would lose because the best hand you can make is Qd-Qs-Js-Jc-Td but your opponent can make As-Qd-Qs-Js-Jc. You have the same two pair (queens and jacks) but only have a ten-kicker whereas your opponent holds an ace-kicker.

Those are the basics of Texas Hold'em. Now that you know them, we advise you to read the other guides and strategy articles on the site before hitting the tables and putting what you have learned into practice. Good luck!