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How to Play Texas Hold’em

11 May 2022
Phil Lowe 11 May 2022
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  • Learn the Basics of playing Texas Hold’em poker
  • Read our guide to the rules of Texas Hold’em
  • Texas Hold’em Rules
  • The Blinds
  • Betting Actions
  • Start of the Game (Pre-Flop and The Flop)
  • During the Game (The Turn and The River)
  • The Showdown
  • GGPoker Texas Hold’em House Rules
Texas Hold’em is the most popular poker variant and can be played with between two to ten players.

Whether you are new to online poker or want to learn more about the game, our guides to playing Texas Hold’em come with tips and strategies for players of all levels.

Texas Hold’em Rules

The rules of Texas Hold’em are as follows: 

  1. One player is the dealer, with the position of the dealer rotating clockwise to the next active player after every hand. The two players to the left of the dealer are named the small blind and big blind.
  2. Both the small blind and big blind are required to make forced bets and are usually the only players to put money in the pot before the cards are dealt. Every player is then dealt two cards face down. These two cards are known as hole cards.
  3. Once the hole cards are dealt, the first round begins with the player sitting to the left of the big blind. This player can choose to fold, call or raise.  
  4. Betting continues in a clockwise direction, with each player able to fold, call or raise the highest bet made before them. To stay in the hand and see the next card, all players must have the same number of chips in the pot. 
  5. Once the first betting round has ended, it is time for the flop, where three community cards are turned face-up on the table. Betting resumes with each remaining player having the option to check, bet, raise, call or fold.  
  6. When the second round is finished, another community card is revealed in the ‘turn’.
  7. The third round of betting then starts with the first remaining player sitting to the left of the dealer. Again, this is played in a clockwise direction. 
  8. When the third round is over, another community card is revealed in the ‘river’. 
  9. The fourth round then begins, again starting with the first remaining player who is sitting to the left of the dealer. The betting continues clockwise until a winner is determined. If two or more players are still in the game after this fourth round has ended, these players’ hole cards are revealed and the best poker hand wins the pot.

The Blinds

The blinds in Texas Hold’em are determined by which player is designated the dealer, or the ‘button’ for the hand. The player to the left of the button is designated the small blind, meaning the first forced bet.

ggpoker blinds
The player to the left of the small blind is designated the big blind, another forced bet typically twice the size of the small blind.

Blinds can vary depending on the betting structure, as explained below:

Limit games: The big blind is the same as the small bet, and the small blind is typically half the size of the big blind depending on the stakes. 

Pot Limit and No Limit games: Games are referred to by the size of their blinds. 

Depending on the game, each player may also post an ‘ante’, which is another type of forced bet that is usually smaller than either of the blinds. Once these bets have been made, playing can proceed.

Betting Actions

In Texas Hold’em there are four betting rounds, and each player must decide whether to fold, call, check, bet or raise when it is their turn to act, often basing their decision on the actions already taken by other players active in the hand. 

Check: Players check if they want to pass the action onto the next player but keep their cards. When a player checks, they don’t have to put anything into the pot unless they are playing with a big blind and/or small blind. 

ggpoker bet
Fold: If you fold your hand in poker, you lay down your cards and stop playing the hand. Folding means you are out for that hand and relinquish your claim on the pot. 

Bet: The player bets a certain amount based on the strength of his cards (or bluff if they are feeling adventurous). The bet must be more than the big blind. 

Call: Calling a bet is when a player matches the amount that has been put in by another player in the form of a bet or a raise. If nobody calls the bet, the hand is over and the uncalled player wins the hand. 

Raise: Raising is when a player increases the opening bet. After raising it, other players still active in the hand will have to either call, fold or re-raise, which is the act of increasing a raise that’s already been put in. 

When all players have either folded or called the last raise, the betting round is over and all bets that were made are added to the pot. If all players except one have folded when a betting round concludes, the remaining active player wins. 

Start of the Game (Pre-Flop and The Flop)

The second stage of each poker hand is called the pre-flop, which occurs before the flop is dealt and after the blinds have been placed. In the pre-flop phase, players are dealt two cards or ‘hole cards’, which are meant to be seen by the player only. Players then decide whether they want to call, bet or fold based on their hole cards.

The round following the pre-flop is called the ‘flop’. During this round, three community cards are revealed to all the players in the game.

Both the pre-flop and flop are important rounds. This is when players must decide their next action based on the strength of their hole hands and the revealed community cards, otherwise known as their five-card hand.

During the Game (The Turn and The River)

After the flop, a fourth community card is revealed. All players still in the game now have six cards to choose from to form their five-card poker hands.

This is followed by another round of betting. After the turn comes the river, which is when a fifth community card is dealt.

This means there are now seven cards that can be selected to make the best five-card poker hand. To determine their best five-card hand, players may use one, both or neither or their hold cards in combination with three, four or five community cards. Another round of betting takes place. If any player bets or raises without being called, they win the hand without revealing their cards, or a showdown occurs.

The Showdown

The showdown occurs when more than one player remains after the last betting round. During the showdown, the player that made the last aggressive action during the final betting round is the first to reveal their cards.

ggpoker showdown

If no betting took place during this last betting round, the closest player on the left of the dealer must show their cards first.

The game then concludes by determining a winning hand that takes the pot. If the hand is a tie, the pot is split evenly. Any player dealt in may ask to see any cards involved in a showdown, even those that have been burned or discarded.

GGPoker Texas Hold’em House Rules

GGPoker allows players to play at multiple tables or in multiple games simultaneously. When entering a cash table, players may wait to play until they are in the big blind position, or pay a fee that is equal to that table’s lower limit stake or small blind to play in the next hand dealt.

A player may also choose to temporarily sit-out from a poker table. In the event that two or more active players reach the showdown when holding equal ranking hands, the winner is determined by the kicker if the hands remain tied. If the hand is still a tie, the pot is split evenly.