Texas hold'em, or just hold'em, is often called the Cadillac of Poker. It's one of the most fun poker variations because it's fast paced, doesn't require a lot of dealing, and has a simple set of rules. Play texas hold em.
Like other variations of poker, one player is designated the dealer at the start of the game, and the deal rotates clockwise after each hand. Mark that player with a dealer button. In a casino, this "dealer" doesn't actually deal the cards and handle chips; the actual casino employee dealer does so. To avoid confusion, we usually call the casino dealer the dealer, and the player dealer the button.
Most Hold'em games are played with betting limits, called limit hold'em, or without those limits, called no-limit hold'em. In limit hold'em, you must bet and raise in multiples of the bet limit. For example, in a $2/$4 game, you bet $2 or raise to $4. (These bets double later in the hand; see below.) In no limit hold'em, there's still a minimum bet, but there is no maximum, up to and including all your chips.
Unlike most other poker games, there's a bit of forced betting that comes in at the start of each hand. The player to the left of the dealer is called the small blind, and has to put in a bet equal to half the table minimum, before any cards are dealt. The player to his or her left is the big blind, and puts in a bet equal to the whole minimum bet. These forced bets ensure there are chips in the pot in every hand. In a tournament setting, these blinds increase periodically to keep the game moving as players run out of chips (bust out). Sometimes, these blind players also have buttons in front of them, as reminders.
After the big blind and small blind place their bets, the dealer, with a shuffled deck of cards, deals one card face down to each player, starting with the left of the button, dealing to the button last. Then, the dealer deals a second card in this same fashion. These two cards are called hole cards.
First Betting Round
Players can look at their cards. Be sure nobody else can see them. Since the blinds have already bet, the betting starts with the player third to the left of the button. This position is also called under the gun, because he or she has to act first. Players can bet equal to the big blind (call), or raise an amount equal to double the big blind. Just calling on the first round is often called limping in and is done to try and stay in the hand with as few chips invested as possible.
The next player can call the largest previous bet, or raise again, doubling the previous raise (re-raise). Usually, a table will have limits on the number of raises -- such as four (the cap)
Again, in no-limit hold'em, players can raise any amount up to and including all their chips, and, when not calling, will usually raise in this round an amount equal to 2.5 to 3 times the big blind, to mask their intentions.
Player can also fold when it is their turn, releasing their hand and exiting play until the next time. This is typical if the starting hand of two cards is especially terrible, or if the player behind them bet or raised.
After the button has performed his or her action, the small blind is up next. He or she can call by putting in the other half of the minimum bet, or can raise by first completing the minimum bet, then doubling it.
Then, the big blind acts last. He or she can check by tapping or knocking the table or saying "check", meaning his or her forced bet is the only bet he or she will be making. This only works if nobody has raised. Or, the big blind can raise or fold.
After all actions have been performed in the first round, the dealer first burns a card, placing it face down in the discard pile (the muck). This is done for security reasons in case anyone has seen the top card. Then, the dealer flips over the next three cards in a horizontal row in the center of the table. These three cards are called the flop. These are community cards, meaning any player can use cards from their hand and cards among the community cards to create a poker hand.
Second Betting Round
Unlike the first round, the bets start with the small blind player to the left of the dealer, since he or she hasn't made a forced bet this round. On this round, a player can bet, but can also choose to check or pass their betting option. If someone else bets, though, action will eventually come back around to them again, and they'll have to call, raise or fold.
After all actions have been performed in the second round, the dealer burns another card, then flips over a single card that goes in the community card row, to the right of the flop. This card is called the turn, or fourth street. Note that though there are now four community cards and two hole cards, a player may only construct a five-card poker hand.
Third Betting Round
In limit hold'em, bets are doubled starting with the turn. So if the game is $2/$4, a player must bet $4 or raise to $8 here. Otherwise, betting proceeds the same as in the second round.
After all actions have been performed in the third round, the dealer burns a card again and flips over the final community card, placed to the right of the others. This is called the river or fifth street. Again, players may only use the best five cards among the two in their hand and the five community cards to make their poker hand.
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Last Betting Round
Betting continues in the same fashion as the previous round.
If there are one or more players remaining in the hand after the last round of betting, these players reveal their hands. This is called the showdown. Whoever has the best poker hand gets the pot. If one player is left in the hand at any point prior to the showdown (everyone else has folded), the remaining player gets the pot without having to reveal his or her hand.
Afterward, move the dealer button and blind buttons one seat to the left and continue!