Texas hold'em is a variation of poker. In fact, it is generally known by that name, but there are several variations of poker. Pot Limit Omaha (PLO), Five-card draw and 7-Card STUD are also very popular and liked by players. Just find the one that suits you best. The best known and most widespread is Texas Hold'em in its No Limit version, also known by its abbreviation NLHE. It is in this game mode that the most lucrative tournaments on the planet are played, which is one of the reasons why it is so popular. Let's discover the rules and subtleties of this century-old game.
Table of content
Number of players
Aim of the game
The purpose of Texas Hold'em is quite simple. Each player is dealt 2 cards face down. This is called the hand (note that the hand is also the name given to a round of the game). In the middle of the table, up to 5 more cards are added face-up, allowing players to make the best possible 5-card combinations. The winner is either the player with the best hand or the player who manages to get their opponents to discard their hands. He or she then wins the total amount of bets in the game, known as the pot.
One of the special features of Poker is that players can bluff (i.e. make their opponents believe that they have better hands than they do) by using different strategies. Sometimes it's just a matter of determining whether we think our opponent is bluffing us. It is possible to win a hand without having the best hand, only by forcing other players to discard their cards.
To play Poker you will need a pack of 52 classic cards as well as chips of the value of your choice. These chips can be replaced with anything of value to the players. It is not recommended to play without tokens as the game will become less complex and less interesting. You may also need something that allows the players to recognize the dealer (poker dealer), who will rotate turn after turn (hand by hand). Usually, poker chips come with a special token for this purpose, but you can use any item you like. This item is called the button.
It can be interesting to use a baize, but this is only for the comfort of the game, it will not change the course of the game in any way. It is possible to use applications or sites to assist you in your game: they tell you when to increase the number of blinds (if you don't know what a blind is, please read on). We have also developed a timer for you, don't hesitate to use it during your games with your friends.
Sequence of a hand
The process of playing poker consists of a series of hands until one player collects all the chips at the table. Now let's take a look at one of them. Below is an example of a hand that is explained in detail.
The player to the left of the button must pay the Small Blind (SB) and the player to the left of the Small Blind must pay the Big Blind (BB). If you are playing with an Ante, then all players must pay the Ante unless you have decided to use the Big Blind Ante. In this case, the player in the Big Blind or the player to his left also pays the full amount of the Ante.
The person in charge of dealing the cards (this can be the player who has the dealer button in front of him or a dedicated person or someone from outside the game) will deal 2 cards face down to each player, taking care to deal them in two rounds, one at a time, starting with the player on his left.
Each player can take note of the cards he has received. A round of betting can then begin. It is up to the player to the left of the Big Blind (called Under the Gun or UTG) to start talking. Players may: fold(fold/drop their cards), call, raise, or check if they have already paid their bet. Betting continues until everyone has paid the required amount.
The dealer burns a card (i.e. sets aside, face down, the card on top of the deck). Players must not see this card. After this operation, he deals 3 cards face up in the center so that each player can see them. This is commonly called the flop.
Players start a new round of betting. It is up to the player to the left of the dealer to speak. He can then check, bet, call, raise or fold.
The dealer burns another card and deals a new card face up in the center, called the turn.
A new round of betting starts.
The dealer burns a last card and deals face up in the center the river.
A final round of betting begins.
The remaining players will then reveal their cards and compare the 5-card combination they managed to make. The best of these combinations wins all of the bets made during the hand and is said to win the pot. More than one player may get the best hand, in which case they will split the pot equally.
The hand is over. Now just move the dealer button clockwise to the next player to start a new hand.
Info Of course, you don't have to go to the last step if all players have dropped their cards and only one person is left.
Particular case When there are two players left on the table, they are said to be heads up. Logic would suggest that the player with the dealer button is the Big Blind, but in this case, the roles are reversed. The Dealer becomes the Small Blind and the Player in front becomes the Big Blind.
Dealer / Button
Initially, the dealer's role is, as the name implies, to deal the cards. This is probably still true when you play a game with friends, but in today's tournaments dealers are hired to deal the cards and handle the tokens. The dealer is represented by a button and rotates clockwise between players between each hand. It is used to indicate the players in Small Blind and Big Blind, and also to designate the first player to speak between each phase of play.
How is the Dealer's starting position chosen?
There are several ways to determine the initial position of the button at the beginning of the game. Each casino is free to choose the way they prefer. Most of the time, at the beginning of the game, the dealer or a player will deal a card face up to each player. The player with the highest card becomes the first Dealer. To avoid complicating your task if two players are dealt the highest card, we offer an alternative solution. In the same way, deal each player a card, the first player to be dealt an Ace becomes the dealer.
Located to the left of the button, the player must pay a set amount that keeps increasing throughout the game. This amount is called the Small Blind. It is also the first player to speak after the flop if he hasn't folded, otherwise, it's the turn of the next player to his left. This is one of the two mandatory bets.
This is the second mandatory bet. He is to the left of the Small Blind, and as with the latter, he must pay an amount that also increases during the game. This is generally twice the SB.
Not much used in tournaments between friends, it is very often found in online or casino tournaments. It is usually a percentage of the Big Blind that each player must pay, including the two players who paid the blinds. It serves to speed up the game and makes the starting pot more attractive.
More recently, tournament directors have found that this has been a problem for many players who forget to pay the ante before the start of the hand, forcing dealers to remind players of this rule, which is still little known to amateur players. To alleviate this problem, only one person will pay the ante by paying the full amount. This is called the Big Blind Ante.
A round explained
The best way to understand the rules of Texas Hold'em is to explain a hand. You will play a lot of them during each of your games, so you must learn to master them to play them correctly.
The game is played in a clockwise direction and in several phases:
Preflop takes place after the cards are distributed
Flop follows the distribution of the 3 cards in the center
Turn follows the distribution of the fourth card
River follows the distribution of the fifth and last card
Showdown takes place after the last betting round
After each phase, there is a round of betting between the players.
The preflop is the phase that follows the distribution of cards. This is the first phase of the game where players can place their bets. It is up to the player to the left of the Big Blind to start talking. Here we are talking about the player sitting in Seat 2. He then has several options: pay the blind (call), raise (there is a minimum amount for this action), or drop and discard his cards (fold). The last player to speak is the player in the Big Blind (seat 1). He can perform the same actions as the previous players, except that he can also check if no one has raised. All players before him may have folded. He then wins the pot - this is called a walk.
The minimum amount of raises To avoid long betting rounds, raises must be made according to the rule that the amount of the raise must be greater than or equal to twice the amount of the Big Blind or the last bet if a raise has already been made. For example, if the Big Blind amount is 20, the first raise must be at least 40. If a player decides to raise to 50, the next player to raise must bet at least 80 (50 - 20 = 30; 50 + 30 = 80).
The first betting round is now over, the dealer will then burn a card (set aside the next card) before dealing the 3 cards that make up the flop, face-up on the board, in other words, in the center of the table. The remaining players will be able to start a new round of betting. Unlike the preflop, the first player is not the one to the left of the player in the Big Blind, but the person to the left of the button. In our example, here, this is the player sitting in Seat 1.
Check simply means that you pass your turn, and let the next player decide. This is an action not to be neglected. It can indicate a lot about the hand you are defending. It can be perceived as not getting the cards you expected and that you are ready to give up your cards at the slightest opponent's bet. Of course, it can be used strategically to deceive your opponents. It is, therefore, an important weapon to master.
Once again, the dealer will burn a card before dealing the 4th card which is called the turn. It is therefore a complement to the 3 cards already on the board. A betting round starts with the player to the left of the button, in the same way as during the flop.
In our example, the player sitting in seat 1 decides to bet. But he could also simply check as in the previous phase. Note that nothing prevents a player from throwing away his cards at this point (by being the first to speak), but it is a very unwise action that would damage your reputation on the table. If you do not wish to go further at the turn, it is best to check and let the others bet, at this point, you will have the opportunity to discard your cards without appearing to be a bad player. The other players have decided to follow Player 1's bet, but they would have had the opportunity to discard their cards or raise. Here the minimum raise amount would have been 10.
The river is often a moment that can completely change the course of a hand and sometimes even the course of a game. As with the flop and the turn, the dealer burns one last card before placing the last of the 5 community cards on the board.
The players then have all possible cards at their disposal to form the best possible 5-card combination.
Once they have taken this information into account, they can start the final betting round and make one last attempt to either have their opponents discard their cards or convince them to go to the showdown. The actions are the same as in the previous phase: check, bet, raise or fold. In our example, the player in seat 1 decided to check, the next player in seat 4 did the same. As for the player in seat 5, he decides to bet and invest all his chips, we say is in All-in. He may be eliminated if someone pays, has a better hand, and has more chips. Players 1 and 4 will then pay.
Once all players have agreed on the final round of betting, it's time to reveal your cards. The player who starts to show his or her cards is the player who has been paid. It is said that the other players have paid to see his or her cards. This is the case in our example, player 5 went All-in and got paid by the other players, so it's up to him to show his cards first. Then the players reveal their cards in a clockwise direction. They then have the choice to reveal them or fold them to preserve the mystery. If the player does not reveal his cards, he can’t win the pot, it is called a muck. If he does reveal his cards, he may or may not win the pot depending on the strength of his hand. In our example, players 1 and 4 reveal their cards. Player 1 makes a good deal since he has a better hand than Player 5. Player 4 could have chosen to muck his hand since he has the weaker hand.
It is also possible to muck your hand when you win the pot, this is only possible when all other players have thrown down their hands first. It's very common to do this. You can also choose to reveal your hand to let others know that you are bluffing or not. It's a strategy, and it's up to you to use it wisely.
Tip Many professional players in tournaments or cash-game muck their hands when they lose, this helps to give the minimum amount of information to the opponents when a hand is lost.
It is important to note there is a somewhat complex situation that occurs when a player goes all-in and is paid by several players with more chips than him. We create what we call the side pot.
The player with the fewest number of chips can only claim the side pot, which contains the blinds and the amount paid by the other players. The other players are entitled to the full amount of the pot.
We are at the river, 3 players left. The current pot is 150. The first player goes all-in at 50, the second raises all-in at 200, the third pays the 200 (he could also go all-in and push 400, but then 200 would be returned to him since there is an excess of 200).
So we have 2 pots: a side pot at 300 (150 + 50 + 50 + 50 + 50) and the main pot at 600 (side pot + 150 + 150). If player 1 has the best hand, he only wins the side pot of 300, and if he doesn't have the best hand, he is eliminated. Let's say he has the best hand, it has 300 left in the pot. If player 2 has a better hand than player 3, he wins the remaining 300, otherwise, he is eliminated and player 3 wins the rest.
In another configuration, player 1 does not have the best hand, he is eliminated. Player 2 wins the entire pot this time, 600. Player 3 stays in the game with 200.
Knowing the poker hands rank is the key to win. You will find below everything you need to understand which hand beats what. If you are in a tricky situation where you don't know exactly which hand won, we developed a tool that give you the right winner. Please visit the Odds calculator .
If you use our poker timer , you will have an option to display this list at the same time. This is the perfect option for beginners. This way they can always check the strength of their hands and it makes your game easier. Feel free to use it while you learn this ranking.
Disclaimer Combinations consist of only 5 cards, if a player manages to make a combination of 6 cards, the lowest card is ignored. Two players can get the best hand. In this case, both players will split the pot.
#1 Royal flush
The Royal flush (or Quinte Flush Royale) is the best possible hand and cannot be beaten. The is the combination of Ten, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace of the same suit.
Royal flush of spades
#2 Straight flush
A Straight flush (or Quinte Flush) is the sequential order of five cards of the same suit.
9 straight flush of diamond
#3 Four of a kind
A Four of a kind (or Quads) is formed by any four numerically matching cards and one other card.
Four of aces
#4 Full house
A Full house is the combination of three of a kind and a pair.
Full house, queens over eights
A Flush is five cards of the same suit in any order (Otherwise, it would be a straight flush).
High king flush of club
A Straight (or Quinte) is the sequential order of five cards of any suit but not all the same (Otherwise, it would be a straight flush).
9 High straight
#7 Three of a kind
A Three of a kind (or trips or set) is formed by any three numerically matching cards and two different other cards (Otherwise, it would be a full house).
#8 Two pair
A double pair is formed by any two different pairs in the same hand.
Two pairs, Aces and Kings
#9 One pair
A pair is formed by any two numerically matching cards and three different other cards.
Pair of Jacks
#10 High card
If your hand does not match with any of the combination above, you have a high card. It's the highest-ranked card in your hand. It follows the same rules, the Ace is the highest while the two the lowest.