Texas Hold’em Poker
Texas Hold’em is probably the best known and most popular form of poker and it uses a standard 52 cards. Each player is dealt two private cards (known as ‘hole cards’) and five community cards are dealt face-up in the center of the table. Players may use these shared community cards in conjunction with their own hole cards and use any combination of the seven cards available to make the best possible five-card poker hand.
The three major variations of Hold'em are Fixed Limit, No Limit and Pot Limit.
In Hold'em, a marker called ‘the button’ or ‘the dealer button’ indicates which player is the nominal dealer for the current game. Each hand start with two blinds. Before the game begins, player immediately clockwise from the button posts the "small blind", the first forced bet. The player after the small blind posts the "big blind", which is typically twice the size of the small blind, but the blinds can vary depending on the stakes and betting structure being played.
In Limit games, the big blind is the same as the small bet, and the small blind is typically half the size of the big blind but may be larger depending on the stakes. For example, in a £2/£4 Limit game the small blind is £1 and the big blind is £2. In a £15/£30 Limit game, the small blind is £10 and the big blind is £15.In Pot Limit and No Limit games, the games are referred to by the size of their blinds (for example, a £1/£2 Hold’em game has a small blind of £1 and a big blind of £2).
Depending on the exact structure of the game, each player may also be required to post an ‘ante’ into the pot. Now, each player receives his or her two hole cards. Betting action proceeds clockwise around the table, starting with the player ‘under the gun’ (immediately clockwise from the big blind).
In Hold'em, as with other forms of poker, the available actions are ‘fold’, ‘check’, ‘bet’, ‘call’ or ‘raise’. Exactly which options are available depends on the action taken by the previous players.
The betting action on the first round always begins with the left of the big blind. That player has the option to fold, call or raise. For example, if the big blind was £2, it would cost £2 to call, or at least £4 to raise. Action then proceeds clockwise around the table. When the betting gets to the blinds, player have the same choices. However they already have chips in the pot and those chips count towards their bet. Betting continues on each betting round until all active players (who have not folded) have placed equal bets in the pot.
After the first betting round is equalized, the first three community cards will be dealt face-up on the board. This is known as ‘the flop’. Betting on the flop begins with the active player immediately clockwise from the button. The betting options are similar to pre-flop, however if nobody has previously bet, players may opt to check, passing the action to the next active player clockwise.
When the betting action is completed for the flop round, the ‘turn’ is dealt face-up on the board. The turn is the fourth community card in Hold'em (and is sometimes also called ‘Fourth Street’). Another round of betting ensues, beginning with the active player immediately clockwise from the button, it is exactly the same as the second round.
In limit game, the third round and fourth rounds the betting usually proceeds in increments twice the size of the first two rounds.
When betting action is completed for the turn round, the ‘river’ or ‘Fifth Street’ is dealt face-up on the board. This last community card is called river. Betting again begins with the active player immediately clockwise from the button, and the same betting rules apply as they do for the flop and turn, as explained above.
After the fourth round is equalized, there is a showdown. If there is more than one remaining player when the final betting round is complete, the last person to bet or raise shows their cards, unless there was no bet on the final round in which case the player immediately clockwise from the button shows their cards first. The player with the best five-card poker hand wins the pot. If there is a tie for the best hand, the pot will be split equally amongst the tied players.
After the pot is awarded, a new hand of Hold'em is ready to be played. The button now moves clockwise to the next player, blinds and antes are once again posted, and new hands are dealt to each player.
Additional Rules and Situations
Hold'em rules remain the same for Limit, No Limit and Pot Limit poker games, with a few exceptions:
Limit Texas Hold'em
Betting in Limit Hold'em is in pre-determined, structured amounts. Pre-flop and on the flop, all bets and raises are of the same amount as the big blind. On the turn and the river, the size of all bets and raises doubles. In Limit Hold'em, up to four bets are allowed per player during each betting round. This includes a (1) bet, (2) raise, (3) re-raise, and (4) cap (final raise).
No Limit Texas Hold'em
The minimum bet in No Limit Hold'em is the same as the size of the big blind, but players can always bet as much more as they want, up to all of their chips.
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. As an example, if the first player to act bets £5 then the second player must raise a minimum of £5 (total bet of £10).
Maximum raise: The size of your stack (your chips on the table).
In No Limit Hold'em, there is no 'cap' on the number of raises allowed.
Pot Limit Texas Hold'em
The minimum bet in Pot Limit Hold'em is the same as the size of the big blind, but players can always bet up to the size of the pot.
Minimum raise: The raise amount must be at least as much as the previous bet or raise in the same round. As an example, if the first player to act bets £5 then the second player must raise a minimum of £5 (total bet of £10).
Maximum raise: The size of the pot, which is defined as the total of the active pot plus all bets on the table plus the amount the active player must first call before raising.
Example: If the size of the pot is £100, and there is no previous action on a particular betting round, a player may bet a maximum of £100. After that bet, the action moves to the next player clockwise. That player can either fold, call £100, or raise any amount between the minimum (£100 more) and the maximum. The maximum bet in this case is £400 - the raiser would first call £100, bringing the pot size to £300, and then raise £300 more, making a total bet of £400.
In Pot Limit Hold'em, there is no 'cap' on the number of raises allowed.