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Texas Holdem Rules

Game Play
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 disqualify themselves.

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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.”

Betting Rounds
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 betting rounds.

To summarize, here’s how the betting goes:

  1. Small and large blind required by 1st and 2nd player to the left of the button.
  2. Each player is dealt two down cards.
  3. 1st betting round initiates with player 3 places to the left of the button.
  4. Burn one card, and then deal the flop – 3 community cards dealt.
  5. 2nd betting round initiates with the player immediately to the left of the button.
  6. Burn one card, and then deal one additional community card.
  7. 3rd betting round initiates with the players immediately to the left of the button.
  8. Burn one card, and then deal one final community card.
  9. 4th, and final, betting round initiates with the players immediately to the left of the button.
  10. 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.



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