Texas Hold'em is a popular variation of the card game of poker. Texas Hold'em can be played between two players or up to 10 or more if desired and uses a standard 52-card deck with no jokers.
It is described as a community card game because in addition to their two private hole cards, players are able to use five (5) cards on the board. The five community cards are also used by any number of the other active players to make their best hands.
In casino games a Dealer, who does not actively play in the game, takes charge of dealing the cards, managing the betting and awarding the pot.
In online games, a player is nominated as the Dealer with a (D) Dealer button moving one place clockwise after each hand. In Replay Poker games, the beginning Dealer is always Seat 1 (the first seat to the left of the chip box at the top center of the game table). The cards are distributed (dealt) as though the designated player is the Dealer.
Blinds and betting
Before any cards are dealt, the player sitting immediately to the left of the Dealer must make a small blind bet and the next player around must make a big blind bet, which is usually twice the size of the small blind. The size of these blinds is determined by the stake size at which the game is running. These bets are 'live,' and the players making them will have the opportunity to defend them by calling or raising other players’ bets.
In ring games, the online equivalent to casino cash games, a player may choose to sit out or even leave their seat with all their chips before any hand is dealt. If they are seated in a table position that would have paid either a small or big blind, they are not charged the blind. The blind moves to the next active player in a clockwise rotation.
In tournament play, however, a player may not remove chips from the table or avoid paying blinds by sitting out. A player will always be dealt in to a tournament hand, even if they are sitting out. If a player is away and does not respond for a certain period of time, their hole cards will be folded and their blinds taken automatically. Furthermore, an absent player will not have the opportunity to win any pots.
Two cards, known as the hole or pocket cards are dealt face down to each player starting from the dealers left (the small blind). The player to the left of the big blind, (known as "under the gun"), has the option to fold, call or raise the big blind bet. The amount of a raise that is allowed is determined by the game type, which will usually be Fixed Limit, Pot Limit or No Limit.
During any round of betting, a player must either match the highest bet made by a previous player or fold. They may also have the option to raise, as long as they themselves did not make the last bet or raise. If all players except one fold, then that player is declared the winner and receives all the chips bet into the pot. The round of betting may also be completed by all players choosing to check (meaning no player has made a bet that raises the big blind).
If a player has less chips than the amount they need to call a raise, they are allowed to call for the total amount of chips they do have. This puts them into an 'all-in' situation. An all-in player cannot be forced to fold and will take part in the eventual showdown to determine the winner. The all-in player cannot make further bets or calls and can only win an amount from each opponent equal to the amount of chips they have wagered. Side pots that the all-in player is not eligible to win are created in order for the other players to continue betting.
In tournament play, if an all-in player loses the hand, they are eliminated from the tournament. However, some tournaments, called Rebuy Tournaments, allow players to return to the tournament by paying a certain number of chips as a re-entry fee.
In Texas Hold'em poker, this first round of betting is known as Pre-flop.
Once the Pre-flop betting is done, the dealer places three cards face up in the center of the table, and this is known as the Flop. Another round of betting now begins. Starting with the first player who has cards and is seated to the left of the dealer, each player may check or bet to open the action. Once a player has bet, the betting continues until each player has either folded their hole cards, wagered the same amount as the highest bet or are all-in.
At any stage, if all players, or all players except one are all-in, and no more betting is possible, then the Dealer will deal all the remaining community cards without requiring any further rounds of betting.
The Turn (also known as the fourth street)
Once the betting based on the Flop is completed, the Dealer will deal a fourth card face up, known as the Turn.
Another round of betting takes place following the same rules as above for the Flop round.
The River (also known as the fifth street)
The final card dealt to the board. One final round of betting takes place; and if two or more players remain with cards, including all-in players, the pot is awarded to the player with the best hand. All players must reveal their hole cards, and the Dealer awards the main pot and any side pot(s) accordingly.
A player must use five of the seven cards they can see to make a five-card poker hand. In the game of Texas Hold'em, this means they may create a hand in three different ways: 1) From both hole cards and three from the community cards, 2) one hole card and four from the community cards; or 3) use all five community cards (known as playing the board).