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How to Play: Texas Hold’em Poker

The Rules of Texas Hold'em Poker

Whether you are playing online poker or live in a poker room, you will almost always be able to find a game of Texas Hold’em poker. From the first iteration of modern poker, estimated to have been played in the early 1800’s on the Steamboats of the Mississippi and in the saloons of the Old West, to the modern face of online poker, the game of poker is known worldwide and Texas Hold’em stands atop the mountain of variations. Seconds to learn, a lifetime to master, and the unlimited excitement will keep you learning hand after hand.

You’ve seen it played on TV, watched highlight clips on various social media platforms, talked about it with your friends and now you want to learn how to play Texas Hold’em poker.

To succeed at Texas Hold’em or any other poker game, you need to understand the rules. Regardless if you are a complete beginner trying to understand the basic rules of how to play, or a veteran looking for a quick refresher course, GGPoker is here to help. As you begin your journey or continue down your path, here are the rules for the poker game of Texas Hold’em. Armed with this knowledge you are on your way to developing your own strategy and style of play.

Texas Hold’em - Overview

Whether you say it Texas Hold’em, Texas Holdem or Texas Hold em,

Of all of the poker games, Texas Hold’em is the most popular poker variant in the world. It is so popular that the World Series of Poker has a widely televised main event every year mixed in a robust broadcast schedule. Played with a standard 52 card deck, it is usually played with 9-10 players at a table (at GGPoker the max number of players we have is 6) but can readily be found with fewer players. 

A hand starts with each player being dealt 2 cards facedown, the hole cards. This is followed by 5 face-up ‘Community Cards’ dealt in a 3-1-1 pattern. Before the flop, there is a round of betting. The flop is followed by another round of betting. Then comes the turn followed by another round of betting and finally the river and the final round of betting. There are a total of 4 betting rounds, 1 betting round after each deal regardless if the cards are dealt face up or dealt face down. After the final betting round, the hole cards are turned over and the player with the best 5-card poker hand wins.. 

Limit vs Pot Limit vs No Limit

One of the most important concepts, when you play poker, is the betting structure. For the purpose of betting, poker games are broken into 3 types: Limit Games, Pot Limit Games or No Limit Games (all Texas Hold’em at GGPoker is No Limit).  At many online poker sites like GGPoker, you can find these betting structures in tournaments and at the cash games.

Limit betting presets how much each bet and raise must be as well as how many total bets and raises can be made each betting round.

Pot Limit betting does not cap the quantity of bets that can be made during each round of betting but limits the maximum bet during each betting round by how much is currently in the pot. The maximum bet includes any bets from the current round plus the amount of the bet you are facing (eg. if the pot is $10 and there is a $1 bet that you would need to call, the maximum you could raise is $12 – $10 that is in the pot, the $1 bet you are facing plus the $1 you need to call).

No Limit betting has no limit or cap on any aspect of the betting. It is in this betting format that you will regularly hear a player say “All In”. 

Texas Hold’em Terms

No different than any other games, there is terminology used at the poker table that is either unique to the game or has an alternate meaning when playing poker. You want to learn how to play poker, that’s why you are found this page. Here are some of the most important ones to know when playing poker:

Position at the Table

Dealer: Each hand of poker will have one player designated as the dealer. Normally indicated by a large Dealer button, the dealer is the last player to receive cards and to act during each round of betting. After each hand, the puck passes to the next seat clockwise around the table. The Big Blind is 2 seats clockwise from the Dealer.

Small Blind (SB): The player or seat immediately between the dealer and the Big Blind. Prior to the deal, the Small Blind will put in a forced bet equal to half the minimum bet. It is possible that the Small Blind position is unoccupied. If that happens, there is no Small blind for the hand.

Big Blind (BB): The player immediately to the left of the Small Blind. Prior to the deal, the Big Blind will put in a forced bet equal to the minimum bet amount.

Under the Gun (UTG): The player immediately to the left of the Big Blind. This player starts the action in the first round of betting.

Cut Off (CO): The player immediately to the right of the Dealer.

Early Position: One of the first third of players to make an action in a poker hand. Playing 6-handed, the first 2 players, the Small Blind and Big Blind, would be considered to be in Early Position

Late Position: The last third of players that will make an action in poker. Playing 6-handed, the last 2 players would be considered to be in Late Position.

Middle Position: The players that do fit the definition of either Early or Late position. These players are to the left of the Big Blind.

Table positions for the blinds in omaha poker
Table positions for each betting action in omaha poker

Action at the Table

Check: Passing the action to the next player. This action can only be taken if no other action has been taken during the current round of betting. The Small blind and Big Blind cannot take this action during the first round of betting (also referred to as the pre flop action).

Bet: Putting chips or money into the pot.

Fold: After a Bet is made, a player can Fold their hand by gently tossing the cards face down into the center of the table. Once a hand is folded, the player is out of the hand and cannot take any other action until the next hand.

Call: After a Bet is made, a player can match the Bet and continue playing the hand. In the case where a player does not have enough to cover the bet, the player is ‘All In’. Any part of the bet the “All In” player cannot match is put into a separate pot (Side Pot) that the “All In” player is not eligible to win. 

Raise: After a Bet is made, a player may choose to Raise the bet. A Raise needs to be equal or greater than the last bet made. A raise can only be less than the previous bet in the case of an All-In.

Game Terms

Hole Cards: The cards dealt face down to each player, 2 cards for Texas Hold’em. A player’s hole cards should be kept hidden and never shared between players.

Community Cards: The shared cards that each player uses in combination with their Hole Cards to make a 5-card poker hand. The Community Cards are dealt 3 to start, followed by a fourth community card, and then the fifth community card. All community cards are dealt face up.

Pre-Flop: The round of betting prior to the first 3 Community Cards being dealt 

Burn Card: Prior to each deal of the Community Cards

The Flop: The first 3 cards dealt as part of the Community Cards are dealt followed by the second betting round.

The Turn: The fourth Community Card is dealt followed by the third betting round.

The River: The fifth Community Card is dealt followed by the final round of betting.

Blinds: Also known as the Stake or Spread, this refers to the forced bet prior to dealing the cards. In a $1/$2 (spoken as “One Two”) game, the forced bets would be $1 from the Small Blind and $2 from the Big Blind.

The Muck: Facedown pile of dead cards (either folded hands or burn cards)

Chips: Refers to poker chips that are used for betting in place of money.

Texas Hold’em – Gameplay

The Shuffle: The poker game starts with the cards being shuffled while the Big and Small blind put their forced bets into the pot.

The Deal: Cards are dealt clockwise one at a time, starting with the Small Blind and ending with the Dealer, until each player has their 2 Hole Cards.

Pre-Flop

Pre-Flop action occurs. The player immediately left of the Big Blind, UTG, is the first to act as the first betting round commences. Players at this point must either Call, Raise or Fold due to their bets prior to dealing. If all players fold, the Big Blind will win the pot.

The Flop

The Flop: The top card of the deck is placed face down into the Muck. The next 3 cards are dealt face up and placed in the center of the table as part of the Community Cards. Another round of betting occurs starting with the closest player on the Dealers left that has not folded their hole cards.

The Turn

The Turn: Again the top card of the deck is burned and placed face down into the Muck. The top card on the deck is then dealt face up and added to the Community Cards. Another round of betting occurs starting with the closest player on the Dealer’s left that has not folded their hole cards.

The River

The River: The final burn card from the deck is put into the Muck followed by the top card of the deck being dealt face up. This is the 5th and final Community Card. A final betting round occurs starting with the closest player on the Dealers left that has not folded their hole cards.

The Showdown

The Showdown: Once all of the betting rounds are complete, all players still in the hand flip over their Hole Cards. The player with the winning hand, the best 5-card poker hand, using any combination of their Hole Cards and the Community Cards, wins the pot. (Check out our Poker Hand Rankings page for more details) The Dealer button is then passed one position to the left.

Note: If at any point during a hand all the players fold, the last remaining player is the winner.

No Limit Hold’em Table Information

Stakes Blinds Default Buy-in Rake % Rake Cap (2~3) Rake Cap (4+)
Low $0.01 / $0.02 $0.50 5% $0.10 $0.20
$0.02 / $0.05 $1 $0.25 $0.50
$0.05 / $0.10 $2 $0.50 $1
$0.10 / $0.25 $5 $1 $2
 
Stakes Blinds Default Buy-in Rake % Rake Cap (2~3) Rake Cap (4+)
Middle $0.25 / $0.50 $10 5% $2 $4
$0.50 / $1.00 $20 $2.50 $5
$1.00 / $2.00 $40 $3 $6
 
Stakes Blinds Default Buy-in Rake % Rake Cap (2~3) Rake Cap (4+)
High $2.00 / $5.00 $100 5% $4 $8
$5.00 / $10.00 $200 $5 $10
 
Stakes Blinds Default Buy-in Rake % Rake Cap (2~3) Rake Cap (4+)
VIP Games $25.00 / $50.00 $1,000 5% $12.50 $25
$50.00 / $100.00 $2,000 $17.50 $35
$100.00 / $200.00 $4,000 $20 $40
$200.00 / $400.00 $8,000 $25 $50
$500 / $1,000 $100,000 $40 $80

Details & Limitations

  • This game uses 1 deck of 52 cards and the deck is shuffled after each hand.
  • Amount committed to the pot will still be in play in an event of a disconnection.
  • GGPoker players accept the risk of internet disconnection, due to problems with the connection between their device(s) and the servers, lag or freeze or some other problem in the player’s device(s) or how that device accesses the internet.
  • Contact support should you experience any difficulties.