Poker Rules for Texas Holdem
Texas Hold em is a poker game where each player plays with two individual
cards and five community cards, and makes the best 5-card poker hand with
those seven cards. A player may use any five of those cards, and does
not necessarily need to use one of both of his/her individual cards. The
game is typically played with upwards of eight or nine players. In general,
more players make for a better game as a lot of players typically muck
their cards early in each hand.
To begin the hand, each player is dealt two cards face down. These are
the only individual cards that each player will receive for the entire
hand. The rest of the cards are community cards that are shared by every
player. After the first betting round, the dealer burns one card off the
top of the deck (puts it in the discard pile and out of play) and then
turns up three community cards simultaneously in the middle of the table.
The turn-up of these three cards is called “The flop.” A second
betting round occurs followed by the turn-up of one additional community
card in the middle of the table. A third betting round then occurs followed
by the turn-up of the fifth and final community card. To complete the
hand, a fourth and final betting round occurs. Thereafter, the best hand
available among all remaining players wins the pot. The cards speak for
themselves, so you don’t necessarily have to call your hand correctly
– just turn them over. If a player doesn’t want to show his/her
cards at the end of a hand (for whatever reason), they can muck them and
After each hand, the deal rotates one player to the left. In casinos,
where a designated dealer deals each hand, a white marker called “The
button,” rotates around the table to indicate who occupies the dealer
position. The player in this spot is said to be “On the button.”
The two most common betting formats for Texas Hold em games are called
“Structured betting” and “Spread-limit betting”.
In a structured betting game, each bet and raise is a fixed amount, and
usually that fixed amount is one amount for the first two betting rounds
and twice that amount for the last two betting rounds. For example, in
a $3-$6 structured betting game, all bets and raises in the first two
rounds must be exactly $3, and all bets and raises in the last two rounds
must be exactly $6. In a spread-limit betting game, say a $1-$4 spread-limit
game, any bet or raise during all four betting rounds may be any amount
between $1 and $4, with the exception that raises on any particular betting
round must equal or exceed any previous bet amounts (i.e. if someone bets
$3, then any subsequent raises must be $3 or $4). Some spread-limit betting
games increase the available betting amounts in the last two betting rounds.
Typically each betting round is limited to a maximum of three raises.
To initiate each hand before any cards are even dealt, the two players
to the immediate left of the dealer must each bet. These two bets are
called “Blinds,” in reference to them being committed without
seeing any cards. The first player to the immediate left of the dealer
is on the “Small blind,” while the player two spots to the
left of the dealer is on the “Big blind”. The big blind is
twice the small blind, and it’s common for the big blind to amount
to the lower end of the structured bet amounts. These two bets serve to
kick off the betting during the first betting round. As such, any player
that wants to see the flop must at least call the blind bets, even if
no player actively bets during the first round. The player on the small
blind must at least call the difference between the blinds. Note that
because of the blinds, the first player to make a betting decision during
the first betting round is the player 3 places to the left of the button.
The player immediately to the left of the button initiates all subsequent
To summarize, here’s how the betting goes:
- Small and large blind required by 1st and 2nd player to the left of
- Each player is dealt two down cards.
- 1st betting round initiates with player 3 places to the left of the
- Burn one card, and then deal the flop – 3 community cards dealt.
- 2nd betting round initiates with the player immediately to the left
of the button.
- Burn one card, and then deal one additional community card.
- 3rd betting round initiates with the players immediately to the left
of the button.
- Burn one card, and then deal one final community card.
- 4th, and final, betting round initiates with the players immediately
to the left of the button.
- Best hand remaining wins.
In casinos, the house usually makes money off of what is called “The
rake.” The house takes a small amount of money from each pot. This
rake varies, but is usually 10% up to a maximum of about $4.