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Game rules

Thanks to the popularity of televised poker, Texas Hold´Em (better known as ´Hold´em´) has become the most popular poker game worldwide. Here are some key points you must know:

  • Each player will be dealt two cards, unseen by the rest of the players.
  • The dealer or croupier will give out five cards, three at a time, one by one, that each player can use to try to get the best possible five-card hand.
  • Before and after revealing each card, players will have the opportunity to make a bet. To keep in the game and see the following card, each player must put the same number of chips in the pot.
  • The best five-card poker hand will take the pot.
  • It’s a game that’s easy to learn, but one that can be played following an infinite variety of strategies, tactics, and nuances.

Texas Hold’Em Rules

Before starting to play Hold’Em, you will have to learn the rules. In Hold’Em, each player receives two cards (known as hole cards) which only belong to him. Five community cards are then dealt, face up, on the table. All players participating in the round will use these community cards together with their own cards to get the best possible five-card hand. In Hold’Em, the player can use any combination of the seven cards available to get the best five-card poker hand using none, one or two of his own cards.

The four main variations of Hold’Em differ in the betting limits:

  • Limit Texas Hold’em: there is a betting limit that is pre-decided in each betting round.
  • No-Limit Texas Hold’Em: the player can bet however much he/she would like, the maximum being all their chips.
  • Pot-Limit Texas Hold’Em: the player can bet however much he/she would like, the maximum being the amount of money in the pot.
  • Mixed Texas Hold’em: the game alternates between rounds of Limit Texas Hold’Em and No-Limit Texas Hold’Em.

How to play Texas Hold’Em

Blinds

In Hold’Em, a ‘button’ or ‘disk’ will indicate which player is the dealer of the current game. Before the game begins, the player sat to the left of the button, must bet an amount known as the ‘small-blind’. The player sitting to the left of the small blind will put the ‘big blind’, which is normally double the amount of the small blind. Blinds can vary depending on the betting limits and the type of poker being played.

In limit games, the big blind is a small bet, and the small blind is generally half the amount of the big blind, but it can be bigger depending on betting limits.

In Pot-Limit and No-Limit games, the amounts refer to the size of the blinds.

According to the exact type of game, it could be necessary to bet an ‘ante’ (another type of forced bet, normally smaller than any blind, which all players at the table must place).

Now, each player receives their two cards. Then the betting begins, starting from the player to the left of the big blind (a position known as ‘under the gun’ or ´UTG’) and continuing clockwise.

Betting options

In Hold’Em, as is the case in other types of poker, the possible actions are to fold, pass, bet, call, or raise. The options available depend on the action carried out by the previous player. If nobody has bet yet, a player can pass (refuse to bet whilst keeping his cards) or bet. If a player has already bet, the following players can fold, call, or raise. To call a bet means to bet the same amount as the previous player. To raise means not only to match the previous bet, but to bet more.

Preflop

After seeing their cards, each player has the option to play his hand calling or raising the big-blind. The action starts to the left of the big-blind, in what is considered a live bet in the round. This player has the option to fold, call, or raise.

Note: The betting structure varies according to different varieties of the game. Below, you will find information about the different types of bets in Limit Hold’em, No-Limit Hold’em and Pot-Limit Hold’em.

The bets continue in each betting round until all active players (those who haven’t folded) have bet the same amount in the pot.

Flop

Three community cards are dealt face up on the table. This is called the ‘flop’. In Hold’Em, the three flop cards are community cards, that are available for all players who are still playing. The bets in the flop start with the first active player who follows the button, going clockwise. The betting options are similar to the pre-flop, however if nobody has bet up until that point, the players can pass, giving their turn to the next active player to their left.

Turn

After the flop betting round ends, the ‘turn’ card is placed face up on the table. The turn is the fourth community card in Hold’em (also known as ’fourth street’). Bets are made in turn starting with the first active player after the button, going clockwise.

River

When the turn betting round ends, the ‘river’ or ‘fifth street’ is placed face up on the table. The river is the fifth and last community card in a game of Hold’Em. The active player after the button, going clockwise, starts the betting round, and the same rules apply as in the flop and turn round (previously explained).

The showdown or final confrontation

If, once a round of bets has been completed, more than one player remains in the game, the last player who placed a bet or a raise shows his cards. If no bets were made in the final round, the first active player after the button, going clockwise, will be the first to show his cards. The player with the best five-card hand wins the pot. If several players have identical hands, the pot is split equally between those players with the best hands. According to Hold’em rules, all suits have the same value.

Once the pot has been given to a player, a new Hold’em round starts. The button now goes to the following player, going clockwise, and the blinds and antes are bet again. New hands are dealt to each player.

Limit, No-Limit, Pot-Limit, and mixed Texas Hold’em

The rules of Hold’em are the same for Limit, No-Limit and Pot-Limit poker games, with certain exceptions:

Limit Texas Hold’em

The bets in Limit Hold’em are made in pre-determined, structured amounts. Before and after a flop, all bets and increases must be equal to the big blind. In the turn and river, all the bets and raises double in value. In Limit Hold’em, up to four bets can be made per player in each betting round. That includes one (1) bet, one (2) raise, one (3) re-raise and one (4) cap – the final raise.

No Limit Hold’em

The minimum bet in No-Limit Hold’em is equal to the big blind, but players can bet all their chips at any moment.

Minimum Raise: In No-Limit Hold´em, the raise amount must be at least as much as the previous bet or raise in the same round.

Maximum raise: the total of your chips (those on the table).

In No-Limit Hold´em there is no limit to the number of raises allowed.

Pot-Limit Texas Hold´em

The minimum bet in Pot limit Hold´em is equal to the big blind, but players can bet at any time what is in the pot.

Minimum raise: the raise amount must be at least as much as the previous bet or raise in the same round.

Maximum raise: The pot amount, defined as the sum of the active pot and all the bets on the table plus the amount that the active player must call before raising.

In Pot-Limit Hold´em, there is no limit to the number of raises allowed.

Mixed Texas Hold´em

In mixed Hold´em, the game varies between rounds of Limit and No-Limit Hold´em. In general, blinds are increased when the game changes from No-Limit to Limit to guarantee consistency in the amount in the pot in each game. The rules to bet in each round correspond to the game being played, as described previously.