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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We can highly recommend the following online poker rooms as the best places to get the most out of your poker experience, from the games themselves to making sure you secure the best rakeback deals and other offers available only through YourPokerDream.
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The history of the poker variant Texas Holdem
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.
The Texas Hold’em Rules – simply explained!
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 FAQs
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 questions, please feel free to contact our Support Team, who are always happy to help.