Texas Hold'em Rules
The basic rules for playing Texas Hold'em Poker are easy to learn. While becoming a great player will take hours of study and play, we have to start somewhere do we not? After learning the basics, be sure to read over our Texas Hold'em Strategy section and browse and ask questions in our forums to begin down the road to becoming a solid player. Finally, it is assumed that the reader knows the basic terms and definitions used in poker. If not, you can always check our poker terms glossary for clarification.
The Dealer Chip
The dealer chip moves clockwise around the table after each hand, and is a very important part of the game because it signifies your position. Since Texas Hold'em is a "fixed postion" game, you will want to always pay attention to who is "on the button," as it is often referred to. At the very beginning of a game or tournament, to determine who gets the privelege of being "on the button" first, the most common method is to deal everyone a card, with the highest ranking card being the dealer.
The Small Blind and Big Blind
Rather than use antes to get the action started in Texas Hold'em, we use what are called "the blinds." These are placed into the pot before any cards are dealt, thus they are "blind bets," putting money into the pot without knowing what will be dealt. Before the cards are dealt, the person to the immediate left of the dealer puts in the small blind. The small blind is generally equal to half of the big blind. The player immediately to the left of the small blind is required to put in the big blind. The big blind is generally equal to the small bet of the limit being played. For example if you were playing $2/$4 limit hold'em, the big blind would be $2 and the small blind $1.
I should point out that blind amounts are completely arbitrary. Some games even feature blinds and antes, or only one blind. When organizing your home game realize that the more money in the pot before cards are dealt, the more hotly contested each pot will be. David Sklansky, a popular and revered poker author notes that poker begins as a battle for the blinds and antes. Obviously then, the smaller the blinds, the less there is to battle for.
After the two blinds are put in, the dealer deals each player 2 cards face down, called "hole cards," and the first round of betting begins. The first player to act in this round is the player immediately to the left of the big blind. He can call the amount of the big blind, fold or bet. Each player then acts in turn by either folding calling the current bet or raising. It is important to note here that the blinds are "live," which simply means that when action gets around to them they to have the option of calling, folding or betting/raising.
After all betting action has finished, the dealer deals the "flop," by placing 3 cards face up in the middle of the table. These cards are community cards which can be used by every player to better their hand. Another round of betting ensues.
The next round of action is called the "turn," and the dealer places one more card face up in the center of the table. This is also a community card, and yet another round of betting takes place.
Finally we arrive at the "river," as the dealer places a fifth card face up in the center of the table, and the final round of betting begins. After betting is finished on the river, the last person to make a bet or raise on the river must flip over his cards. Each player in turn compares his hand to this hand and if beaten has the option to "muck" or throw away his or her hand face down so that no one sees what they were holding. If someone has a better hand, obviously they must turn their cards over for the world to see! The best five-card poker hand wins, using any combination of your two hole cards and the five cards on the board.
One of the most commonly asked questions when setting up a home game is how many bets or raises are allowed in each round of betting. Generally, one bet and three raises are allowed, though some casinos and home games may prefer that if there are only two players still contesting the pot that bets and raises be unlimited.