Texas Hold’em is the world’s most well-known poker variant
Televised poker and the worldwide boom it helped create cemented Texas Hold’em as the most popular version of the game, and it remains so today, both in casinos and poker rooms around the globe, and with online poker.
Here you will find a detailed overview of the game, as well as some useful information that should help you find the best deals with YourPokerDream in terms of where to play. The aim is to give you the confidence to get started when you sit down at the table to do battle.
Texas Hold’em in a nutshell
The old adage that poker takes minutes to learn and a lifetime to master is a fitting one and, before we continue in more detail, we can briefly sum up the basics as follows:
Each player is dealt two ‘hole’ cards (face down), the dealer will deal a total of five ‘community’ cards (face up) over the course of three separate betting rounds, namely Flop, Turn and River. Three cards are dealt on the Flop, a fourth on the Turn and a fifth on the River.
The object of the game is to make the best possible 5-card hand using ANY combination of the 7 available cards – the two hole cards and five community cards. Note that we said ‘any’ combination – if the best hand is made up of the five board cards (e.g. 10c Js Qd Kh Ac), then every player in the hand would use those cards. Including as soon as the players are dealt their starting hands, there is a round of betting at each of the four stages, should the hand last that long. To remain in contention in a hand a player must put chips into the pot at least equal to the present bet; all the chips wagered in a hand go to the eventual winner(s).
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A guide to Texas Hold’em
Chances are that many people who know nothing about poker have nevertheless heard of Texas Hold’em. The most well-known variant of the game, in the No Limit format it’s incredibly popular around the world in both land-based and online casinos. Dating back to the early 1900s, this form of poker was developed in Robstown, Texas – hence the name.
However, it wasn’t until the 1960s in Las Vegas that it was introduced to the state – by the legendary Corky McCorquodale. For a long time the Golden Nugget was the only casino offering Texas Hold’em, but it gained prominence after becoming part of the World Series of Poker in the 1970s.
Texas Hold’em Rules
Let’s look at the basic rules of Texas Hold’em. The first important point to note is that the very nature of online poker is quite different from playing in a bricks & mortar casino or card room in that software – rather than an actual, real-life dealer – is responsible for all the practical aspects of the game. This speeds up proceedings significantly and accounts for certain procedural differences compared with live poker.
Texas Hold’em uses a conventional 52-card deck (no Jokers!) from which each player is dealt two hole cards (face down).
Poker chips of varying values represent a player’s stake in a Cash game, while in a tournament scenario we pay a buy-in and then receive a starting stack of chips. Whether real or virtual, it’s a convention in poker to use chips.
A minimum of two players is required to start the game. Incidentally, it’s interesting that the term for a two-player game of poker – ‘heads-up’ – is one of the numerous poker terms that has found its way into everyday English language. The most players that can be found at a table simultaneously is 10, while so-called ‘full ring’ tables of 9 players have become the popular choice online. It follows that the more players there are involved in a hand, the more possibilities there are for the advantage to move from player to player as a hand progresses through the betting rounds. Consequently, a strong hand is going to be more vulnerable as the number of opponents increases.
In recent years, online poker has seen so-called 6-max tables become extremely popular. With fewer players, the Blinds come round quicker (a third of the hands in an orbit are made of Blinds in this format), and that means having to be proactive and play more aggressively than in full ring games. Otherwise, the increased frequency of the Blinds will eat away at your stack. Nowadays, online poker rooms make sure that all games – from heads-up tables to 6-max to full ring – are part of their poker offering.
The dealer distributes cards to players and manages the action. In an actual poker room dealers have to be skilful in numerous ways, from the dexterity involved in shuffling and dealing to constantly keeping up with the bets and the ever-changing size of the pot, making sure players abide by the rules and so on. But, as anyone who has played both ‘live’ and online poker will tell you, in the former environment this is an arduous and time-consuming task, and one which online is carried out automatically by computer software, and executed in a fraction of the time.
Blinds and Betting
In Texas Hold’em the Blinds form the foundation of the minimum bets, and in No Limit a player’s stack size determines the highest possible bet they can make. The Blinds are obligatory bets made by the two players sitting directly to the left of the Dealer – first the Small Blind puts in, for example, $1, then the Big Blind $2, which is the minimum bet that subsequent players must at least equal in order to remain in the hand. The Dealer ‘button’ travels clockwise around the table one seat at a time so that each player will during an orbit of hands have made both Small and Big Blind bets. It’s the Blinds that guarantee that each hand starts with chips in the middle, thus getting the action going.
As for buy-ins, the highest in a Cash game at an online poker room is typically 100 Big Blinds (100BB), and the minimum can be, for instance, 30 Big Blinds. These limits can vary from room to room. Note that in a Cash game a player is, of course, free to leave the table at any time.
The object of Texas Hold’em
Poker revolves around winning money/chips from your opponents by winning hands. Typically, this would be by having the best hand at showdown when all betting has ended, forcing others to fold through aggressive betting, bluffing and so on. In a Cash game the object is to make a profit by leaving with more chips (money) than we started with; in a tournament we pay a buy-in, receive a starting stack and try to finish amongst the prizes. Note that in the ‘Rebuy‘ format, for instance, we can buy ‘new’ starting stacks and re-join the game should we be eliminated, as well as add on a set amount of chips after the rebuy period has ended.
The Mechanics of Texas Hold’em
- The first factor to take note of is the Dealer or, more specifically, the player with the Dealer Button for that particular hand.
- Next we have the first obligatory pre-flop bet in the shape of the Small Blind (SB; half of the minimum bet).
- Then comes the Big Blind (BB; twice the amount of the SB).
- Each player receives two ‘hole’ cards, dealt face down, the SB being the first and then clockwise around to the Dealer; this is repeated with the second cards.
After seeing their hole cards, the players decide whether they wish to Fold (give up their cards) or remain in the hand, for which the requirement is to at least match the amount of the BB with a Call. Alternatively, a player can raise and, in – literally – No Limit poker, the raise can be their entire stack. Note that the first to act in this pre-flop betting stage is the player ‘under the gun’ (UTG) to the immediate left of the BB, the latter having already made their ‘forced’ bet. This continues clockwise until all the players have made their decision. It is not so unusual for everyone to fold all the way round to the BB, who emerges from the hand with a profit in the shape of the SB. So, to sum up: a player can Fold, Call or (re) Raise.
In this betting round, three community cards – collectively known as the Flop – are dealt face up in the middle of the table for all to see. Another round of betting takes place, but this time the player to the immediate left of the Button is the first to act.
The next betting stage, the Turn, sees just one community card added, after which the remaining players bet once more, again with the nearest active player to the left of the Dealer initiating proceedings.
When betting on the Turn has finished, the River brings the fifth and final community card (collectively known as the ‘board’). The final round of betting takes place (again, the nearest active player to the left of the Button is the first to act) and the task is to make the best possible 5-card hand using any combination of the seven cards available. Remember that this can include all five ‘board’ cards and neither of the hole cards.
A player wins the pot if they bet and the opponent folds. In such a case, the winner doesn’t have to show their hole cards. If there are two or more players who remain after the last betting round, this results in a showdown, which sees all players revealing their hands. Every player should play the best poker hand from their two hole cards and five community cards. Remember that they can use both, one or none of their hole cards.
If the best hand a player has is made up of the five community cards they are said to be playing the board, and their only hope is in splitting the pot. This is because the other players can also choose to use the same five cards to create the same hand.
Where more than one player shares the hand, they will equally share the pot. The player preceding the button from the clockwise direction wins any leftover chips. It is common for players to have closely valued hands instead of identically ranked hands. If a hand consists of, for example, three of a kind or two pairs, kickers are used to settle the ties. The numerical rank of the card is very important, but the suit values don’t mean anything.
An ante is another obligatory bet that is different from the Blinds in that it tends to come into play during a tournament in order to speed up the game by juicing up the pot pre-flop, with everyone contributing an amount (the Ante) smaller than the blinds. Traditionally, this tends to be introduced once the latter stages have been reached, but there are also tournaments that feature Antes right from the start, as well as ‘big’ Antes – the point is to bump up the pot and provide players with more incentive as soon as betting begins.
No Limit, Pot Limit, Limit and Mixed Texas Hold’em
While the rules are just about the same, there are a few differences depending on the specific version being played. No Limit Hold’em (NLH) and Pot Limit Omaha (PLO) are the most closely related in that pots can quickly become enormous, while Limit Hold’em – as its name suggests – limits players to being allowed to bet only the Big Blind initially, and up to a multiple of four BBs per round. Finally, Mixed Texas Hold’em sees the format switch from round to round so that players have to adjust for example, from No Limit to Pot limit.
Texas Hold’em strategy
A key skill in Texas Hold’em is evaluating a hand, which is an important part of the game because our approach differs from one situation to another, and strategy is determined by any number of key factors, one such being hand strength. Note that hand strength is relative – in a heads-up scenario that goes to showdown, for example, Player A just needs a hand that’s stronger than that of Player B to take down the pot.
There is no doubt that Texas Hold’em is an extremely popular game, and that it will continue to attract many players to online poker rooms. Two of these that we recommend are GGPoker and partypoker.
Texas Holdem FAQ
We want every one of our players to sit down with confidence when they play Texas Hold’em at our partnered online poker rooms so, with that in mind, here’s our YPD dedicated Texas Hold’em FAQ section aimed at addressing some of the more common questions we tend to receive. If you have any of your own questions, then please feel free to contact our Support Team, who are always happy to help.
What is the Most Popular Poker Variant?
Texas Hold’em – particularly No Limit (NLH) – continues to be the most popular version of the game, and is played by countless online poker fans from around the globe. Pot Limit Omaha has grown in popularity in recent years because having four hole cards rather than two means their tends to be more action, but it can be a little too much volatility for some – hence NLH remaining the main game of choice.
Can I play Texas Hold’em for real money?
Of course! All of the online poker providers we recommend at YPD provide an array of real money games 24/7, and at stakes to suit every bankroll (see below).
Is it possible to play on my mobile phone?
Yes. When online poker first arrived a couple of decades ago it was heralded as revolutionising the world of poker. It was no longer necessary to search out a so-called bricks & mortar casino or poker room because, suddenly, we were able to play in the comfort of our homes. Since then the game has evolved alongside technological advances, one of which has been the many ways in which we can use mobile phones. It’s now completely normal to play poker on our phones, and being able to play Texas Hold’em and other poker variants on mobile devices means that online poker today is a truly ‘any time, anywhere’ experience. All of our partners offer a mobile poker app for both Android and iOs devices.
What are the table limits?
Given that the concept of online poker revolves around connecting poker fans from all four corners of the world, it follows that everyone is afforded the same services, so whether you’re a complete novice with a small bankroll or an experienced high stakes grinder, you’re sure to find games at all limits. So-called micro stakes start with Blinds at a tiny 1/2 cents while, at the other end of the scale, there are nosebleed stakes where life-changing amounts of money can be won and lost – in one session. Essentially, there’s something for everyone, with recreational players usually populating the tables from, say, $10 max Cash games up to $100 max. Of course, as the stakes increase it’s logical to assume that the skill level of the players also increases – this isn’t always going to be the case, but it’s prudent to expect to find the games are tougher every time we switch to a higher limit.
Is it easy to learn the rules of Texas Hold’em?
Like many games and sports, it’s easy to learn how to play Texas Hold’em poker. Learning how to understand this fascinating and complex game, on the other hand, is a different kettle of fish entirely, and requires effort, time and dedication. Fortunately, poker is so entertaining and rewarding (and potentially life-changing in terms of the money to be won) that a combination of ambition and passion has us striving to improve our game. To this end it’s well worth taking advantage of the vast array of articles, videos and facts freely available on the internet.
Is Texas Hold’em a game of skill or luck?
While poker could be described as featuring both luck and skill, it’s fair to say that the emphasis is firmly on the latter. It’s no surprise that, over time, the more skilled players end up at the top of the pile. Anyone can have a good result if the poker gods happen to bestow on them a lot more than their fair share of a luck all at once, but it’s impossible to have any genuine success for any length of time without skill. It’s true that we do not have control over the cards we are dealt, but we have complete control over the way we play them and over how we approach a hand in which we get involved.
Check out our article about skill and luck.
Can I play from the US?
Not all poker rooms accept US players, so there is not a huge number of online poker rooms from which to choose. However, there is still a good selection – take a look at YourPokerDream USA for a list of the top poker rooms we feature that accept US players.
Is Online Poker rigged?
Online poker is absolutely not rigged and, as long as you play at the well-known online poker rooms with whom YourPokerDream is partnered you can be totally sure that every hand you play is 100% fair. There are occasional – unjustified – claims from disgruntled players who fail to back up their argument with evidence, but this is because it’s far easier to blame losses on an online poker room being unfair than it is to accept personal responsibility for poor results. There are many reasons why it makes no sense at all to believe online poker is rigged, but the fact that serious, full-time players profit from online poker on a regular basis, year in, year out is one such. Online poker providers do well enough for themselves providing a mutually beneficial service that affords poker fans 24/7 availability to a feast of games and formats without needing to jeopardise a multi-billion dollar industry!
How can I improve to play better Texas Hold’em Poker?
As in life, the more we learn about something, the better we tend to become, and poker is certainly no exception. Books, articles, videos and even watching strong players are all worth investing our time on in order to improve our understanding and appreciation of poker. The more effort we put in, the more we can take out, and the more practice we get, the easier it is to execute this or that play, recognise potentially advantageous opportunities when they present themselves and identify our opponents’ weaknesses and so on. Practice might not make perfect, but it helps us evolve and improve and puts us in a better position to maximise our chances.
How much can I win?
How long is a piece of string? A wonderful aspect of poker which of course attracts so many fans is that it has so much more potential to win large amounts of money and to earn glory than other recreational games and sports. Someone who plays golf, for example, for a hobby, might improve their handicap over the years but isn’t going to reach a level that gives them a chance to win massive prizes. The same goes for tennis or football or (for late, adult starters) even chess. But poker has no such practical ceiling – everyone has a chance of attaining success.
Every week sees literally millions on offer in the world of online poker. If you have a go at Spin&Go/Jackpot tournaments you can even become a millionaire within a few minutes…