Before the poker boom, 7-card stud was the most popular variation of poker. But thanks to the likes of the World Series of Poker and other major tournaments around the world, Texas Hold’em is very much at the forefront of popularity and is the version you’re likely to find various games of in both brick-and-mortar and online casinos. In fact, even if you’re new to poker, the chances are you’ll have heard of Texas Hold’em – and might not be aware there are other variations out there. But if you are unfamiliar, we will talk you through how to play Texas Hold’em.
A guide to Texas Hold’em
Aim of the game
Players try to make the best five-card poker hand they can. As well as the two cards that the players are dealt, there are five community cards that all players can see. Players then have to make the best combination using both sets of cards and the rankings for the best hand are as follows:
- Royal flush – five cards of the same suit, ranked from 10 to A (10, J, Q, K, A)
- Straight flush – five cards of the same suit, ranked consecutively
- Four of a kind – four cards of the same rank
- Full house – three cards of the same rank, and two cards of the same rank
- Flush – five cards of the same suit
- Straight – five cards, ranked consecutively
- Three of a kind – three cards of the same rank
- Two pair – two pairs of cards of the same rank
- One pair – one pair of cards of the same rank
- High card – five unmatched cards, having a card of a high rank (e.g. ace or picture card)
Setting the game up
Each player is dealt two cards, which are face-down and play moves around the table in a clockwise direction, starting to the left of the dealer. The two players who are effectively starting the game (or to the left of the dealer, if there is one) are required to post the blinds, to begin betting. Say for example, the first player posts the small blind of £1, the second player is then required to bet £2. Generally speaking, the large blind is double the amount of the small blind.
The betting and game play
Round one: pre-flop
Once players have seen their two cards and the blinds have been placed, it’s down to the next player to begin play. This player has three options:
- Call – match the bet of the large blind
- Raise – increase the bet
- Fold – throw their cards away
If players believe their hand isn’t good enough to win, they fold, but this rules them out of the rest of the hand.
Once the first player has made their move, play continues clockwise and each player has the same three options. If the betting is raised at any point, it needs to continuously be matched, unless it’s raised again. Players will raise if they believe they have a winning hand – or of course, if they’re bluffing and want other players to follow suit.
Round two: the flop
Three community cards are then dealt to the table, face-up and the round of betting begins again. Along with the previous three options at each player’s disposal, players are also able to check, which simply requires no action and moves play on. If every player opts to ‘check’, it ends the round of betting immediately.
Round three: the turn
A fourth community card is added to the table, known as ‘the turn’, again face-up. This commences the round of betting and again, remaining players have the four betting options at their disposal: check, call, fold or raise.
Round four: the river
The river is the fifth and final community card that is added to the table. This is followed by one final round of betting, if there are players remaining at this stage. After this round of betting has been completed, any remaining players are in the ‘showdown’, which is when the winner is determined.
Ending the game
The remaining players reveal their two cards and the winning hand is announced. The player with the best combination from the rankings we discussed earlier is the winner. Let’s make an example below:
Community cards: 9, 5, K, 3, A
Player one: A, 9
Player two: 9, 9
Player two would be the winner with a three of a kind (three 9s), while player one would only have a two pair (pair of 9s and pairs of aces).