Texas Hold’em Poker Online: Your Ultimate Guide

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Texas Hold’em poker has been around for a while; however, it wasn’t until a few decades ago that it became the most popular form of the game. It was in the early 2000s when hold’em became the main poker variation around, taking the throne away from previously popular variants such as seven-card stud.

The game owes a lot of its popularity to the fact it’s always been the game of choice of the WSOP main event. With the rise of televised poker, hold’em has caught the eye of the viewers, and people started to learn so they too could compete in the main events, as well as in other major tournaments around the globe such as WPT, EPT, and more.

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Texas Hold’em Rules in a Nutshell

Texas Holdem Rules - Ultimate Guide

One of the reasons the game has garnered so much popularity resides with the fact it is easy to learn. Moreover, it’s often been said that hold’em is a game that takes five minutes to learn and a lifetime to master, and this still rings true today. As far as basic poker, Texas Hold’em rules are concerned, they are really easy to learn.

The game is played with the standard deck of 52 cards without jokers. It utilizes the usual setup for hand values used in other high poker variations, starting with the high card and going all the way up to the royal flush. In between, there are hands such as a pair, two pair, trips, straight, flush, full boat (full house), quads, and straight flush.

Dealing Cards


The game begins with determining the nominal dealer or the button. This position is usually clearly visible by the button marker placed in front of them. Two players seated to the left of this position will post the small blind (SB) and the big blind (BB). In most games, the small blind is half the amount of the big blind.

Once blinds are posted, the cards are dealt to all players, with the first card going to the small blind, and then big blind, and all the way to the button. Once everyone has received the first card, the second card is dealt in the same fashion. Of course, both cards are dealt facedown and are thus often referred to as hole cards.

Betting Rounds in Texas Hold’em


Once all the cards have been dealt, the action will begin with the first player to the left of the BB. This position is often called under the gun (UTG). The player has the option to fold their cards (giving up without putting any money into the pot), call (matching the big blind amount), or raise to any amount of their liking, with the minimum being two times the big blind.

The action then continues with the next player seated to the UTG and goes around the table. All the players have the option to fold, call the bet in front of them, or raise to any amount they like up to the total amount of chips they have in front of them. This is why the game is called no limit.

Once this initial round is over, the first three community cards are dealt across the middle of the table. These cards are spread faceup, and all the players can combine them with one, both, or none of their cards to make the best possible hands. All combinations are allowed.

On the flop and all later streets, the action will begin with the SB or the first player to the left of the small blind who’s still active (has live cards). The first player can check or bet. By checking, they’ll pass the action onto the next player to the left without investing any money. They can also choose to bet any amount they like.

The next player in line can check if there is no action in front of them, call the bet in front of them, raise the said bet, or bet themselves if checked to. Of course, every player can, at any time, decide to fold when it’s their turn to act, giving up on their participation in the hand and losing any money they’ve already invested into the pot.

Once the flop betting is over, the next community card is dealt, called the turn. Another round of betting ensues, followed by the final community card, that is, the river. After the river is dealt, there is one final round of betting following the rules described earlier.

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Awarding the Pot: The Showdown

One of the reasons the game has garnered so much popularity resides with the fact it is easy to learn. Moreover, it’s often been said that hold’em is a game that takes five minutes to learn and a lifetime to master, and this still rings true today. As far as basic poker, Texas Hold’em rules are concerned, they are really easy to learn.

The game is played with the standard deck of 52 cards without jokers. It utilizes the usual setup for hand values used in other high poker variations, starting with the high card and going all the way up to the royal flush. In between, there are hands such as a pair, two pair, trips, straight, flush, full boat (full house), quads, and straight flush.

  • Royal flush (straight flush containing 10, J, Q, K, and A)
  • Straight flush (five cards of the same suit in a sequence, i.e., 7, 8, 9, 10, J, all in hearts)
  • Quads (four cards of the same rank, i.e., J, J, J, J)
  • Boat or full house (trips plus pair, i.e., K, K, K plus 10, 10 or J, J, J plus 5, 5)
  • Flush (five cards of the same suit)
  • Straight (five cards in a sequence regardless of suits)
  • Trips or three of a kind (three cards of the same rank, i.e., K, K, K)
  • A pair (i.e., J, J)
  • A high card

In the event two players have the same hand, their side card is used to determine the winner. This card is often referred to as the kicker. If two players have the same two pair, for example, the one with the highest kicker will win. Aces are, of course, high, and deuces are low. If the kickers are the same as well, the pot is split equally between all winning players.

Texas Hold’em Formats and Games


Texas Hold’em is played in several main variations. The most popular one is, of course, no limit, where everyone is allowed to wager all their chips at any moment without any limitations. However, there are two more variants you’ll encounter online and in live casinos, namely,

  • Fixed-limit (limit) hold’em – The sizes of all bets and raises are fixed, and players can’t change them in any way.
  • Pot-limit hold’em – Players have the freedom to choose their bet sizes; however, they can never be bigger than the size of the pot.

Apart from these variations that mostly differ because of betting rules, there are also three main subtypes of hold’em games that are played in all these three, namely,

  • Cash games
  • Tournaments
  • Sit and Go

Texas Hold’em Cash Tables (Ring Games)


As the name suggests, cash games or ring games are played for actual cash. In these games, the value of the chips equals monetary value, and players can, at any time, stand, take their chips, and exchange them for cash.

No-limit poker games are the most popular

As mentioned, cash games can be played in any of the three formats—limit, no limit, or pot limit. No-limit games are the most popular; however, limit and pot-limit games are available as well both online and in live venues. It is the matter of preference for the most part, and fixed-limit games used to be much more popular a couple of decades ago.

Games also differ according to the maximum number of players at the table. There are three main types of ring games you’ll find online, and knowing what these are can help you find your way around:

  • Heads-up (HU) – tables involving just 2 players
  • 6 max – like the name suggests, tables featuring up to 6 players
  • Full ring – cash games with 9 or 10 players; these days, full ring usually refers to 9 players

Fast-Fold Variations


Players who enjoy fast-paced action and don’t like hanging around and waiting for the next hand to be dealt can also find many different variations of “fast fold” hold’em cash games. These have different names on different rooms, such as Zoom Poker or Speed Poker. While names may differ, the main idea remains the same. Various poker tools have become an integral part of the game.

With these games, you can fold your hand “out of turn”; that is, you can decide you won’t be playing the hand as soon as you see the hole cards. Other players won’t have this information until the action gets to you; however, you will be immediately moved to the next table and dealt a new hand so that you don’t have to wait around doing nothing.

Texas Hold’em Tournaments


Tournaments are probably the most popular Texas Hold’em poker game format, and they are the main culprit for the game achieving the fame that it has. Unlike cash games, where every chip is worth its exact monetary value, tournament chips have no value outside the event. Rather, they are used as a tool to determine the placement in the tournament.

The way it works is that all players in the tournament are given the exact same number of chips. The tournament will begin with certain blinds, and these will usually increase in regular time intervals. Players will play poker as always; however, once they lose all their chips, they’ll be out of the tournament (unlike cash games, where you can always reload). This requires a different Texas Hold’em poker strategy.

To participate in the tournament, all players will pay a certain amount. These amounts are added into the prize pool, which is shared by a certain percentage of players finishing in top positions. Therefore, the goal in the WSOP tournaments is to first survive long enough to make the payday and then go as far as you can to win more money. Of course, the winner of the tournament is usually the one taking home the lion’s share of the prize pool.

To add some spice, tournament organizers have come up with different ideas over the years. Thus, today you’ll find different types of hold’em tournaments on top of the traditional freezeout ones described above as shown below:

  • Bounty – You’ll earn a certain cash amount for every eliminated player regardless of your placement in the vent.
  • Shootout – To advance, you need to finish first (or second) at your initial table.
  • Free rolls – You are free to enter events offering prizes of real value.
  • Turbo – This is a tournament with fast structures where blinds go up frequently, forcing the action.

Sit and Go


Sit and Go’s are tournaments in small. They adhere to all the rules for the tournaments; however, they’re usually capped in terms of entry, and the event will start when that number of entries is reached. There are single-table Sit and Go’s, featuring 2, 6, or 9 players, and multi-table ones, where the number of players can be 18, 27, 45, 180, or even more.

Finally, Spin and Go (and other similar formats of a different name) is a special type of Sit and Go’s where players have a shot at winning a big jackpot prize. Unlike regular tournaments, the prize for the winner is determined randomly here, and it can be smaller than it would be in the usual Sit and Go with the same number of players, or it can also be several thousand times the buy-in amount.

Conclusion: Have Fun with Cadillac of Poker


Texas Hold’em is by far the most popular variation of the game you’ll find today. Played in the cash game and tournament format, this is the game you need to know if you’re looking to build your poker career or even just have some fun with friends.

Hopefully, this guide has provided you with enough information to get started. There are many more things you could and should learn about hold’em; however, these will come later. For now, you can try the game to see how you like it. Once you’re ready for the next step, there are many great resources and Texas Hold’em poker tips to help you along the way.

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