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Texas Holdem Rules

Mike Sexton, a spokesman for has described Texas Hold'em as a game that takes minutes to learn but a lifetime to master. This is very true, as evidenced by the brevity of this section. Knowing the rules is essential for any Hold'em player, and they are provided below. However, make a point to view articles in our Texas Holdem Strategy section before putting your hard earned cash on the table!

The Dealer Button

In Texas Hold'em, position is "fixed." Whoever is dealer on a particular round, or has the dealer chip, gets to act last on every betting round except the first. The right to be dealer alternates around the table, clockwise after each hand. This is very important, because the later you have to act on a round of betting the bigger your advantage.

Blind Bets

Most poker games in the past always had "antes." Antes are generally smaller amounts of chips that everyone has to place into the pot prior to seeing their cards, to stimulate betting. As famous Poker author David Sklansky notes, poker begins as a battle for the antes. Hold'em uses "blinds" instead of antes. The first two players to the left of the dealer must post a small and big blind, in that order. The big blind is generally equal to the lower betting limit, and the small blind about half of the big blind. So in a 10/20 game of Texas Hold'em, the big blind would be $10, and the small blind $5.

The blinds are considered "live." Even though they have already placed a bet in the pot, since it was placed before they received cards, they are able to raise after the action on the first round of betting comes back to them. Check out the betting structure article for more information on this topic.

Basic Rules and Betting Rounds

To begin, the two players to the left of the dealer chip posts the small and big blinds. Everyone is dealt two cards face down and a round of betting ensues. The player to the left of the big blind must act first and is referred to as under the gun. He and every other player must either fold, call the amount of the big blind or raise when the action is on them. When the action gets around to the small blind he is also able to fold, call the amount of the big blind or raise. When it is the big blinds turn to act in the first round, he can "check" if no one has raised. If someone has raised, he must then either call the amount of their raise, fold or raise himself.

After the first round of betting is concluded, three cards are placed face up on the center of the table. This is called the flop. These cards are "community" cards, and belong to everyone for the purpose of making their hand. Another round of betting begins with the player to the left of the dealer chip. Each player may "check" or "bet" if there are no bets when it is their turn to act. Once a player bets, then each succeeding player must call, fold, raise or reraise.

After the betting has concluded on the flop, another community card is placed face up on the table. This is called the turn. Another round of betting occurs. In limit poker, it is on this street that the betting limits double. In other words, if you were playing 10/20, the minimum bet or raise would be the higher limit - $20.

After betting action has completed on the turn, yet another community card is dealt face up on the table and is called the river. Another round of betting ensues. After betting is completed on the last round or river, the player with the best 5 card poker hand using any combination of his original 2 cards dealt and the community cards is declared winner and is rewarded all money in the pot.

Frequently Asked Questions

Showdown - Who has to show their hand first after betting is complete on the river?

The last person to bet, raise or reraise on the river must show his hand first. If no one bets on the last round, the first person to the left of the dealer must show his hand first. If your hand is beaten by a hand shown prior to yours, you have the option to "muck" your losing hand; throw it away face down, so that no one sees the cards you were playing with.

How many bets or raises are allowed during each betting round?

Most casinos and home games allow one bet and three raises per betting round. Some make an exception if the hand is only contested by two players, and allow unlimited raises.

Other Resources: Texas Holdem Rules