How to Play Poker Texas Hold ’em

Poker (including the online version) has become hugely popular in the last few years. I must admit, I used to enjoy a bit of Poker now and then. I found the psychology and mathematical elements of it very intriguing.

The appeal and popularity of poker is booming around the world; in the USA the World Poker Tour (WPT) and the World Series of Poker (WSOP) events enjoy thousands of competitors every year. And the numbers continue to grow consistently.

The introduction of the game being televised and available online has seen the participants’ demographic greatly expand, and it has propelled the good players to Celebrity status. Players such as Doyle Brunson, Phil Gordon and Barry Greenstein have become household names in the poker playing community. They (among others) have written some great books on the art of playing poker (pick up any of their famous poker books here).

So if you are keen to see how you measure up, here’s how to play Poker Texas Hold ‘Em:

1. First choose a dealer to start the proceedings. After each hand, the player to the left of the dealer will become the new dealer.

2. The two players to the left of the dealer put out blind bets (This means they bet before they are dealt their cards). The player directly to the dealer’s left puts out the small blind while the player two to the dealer’s left puts out the big blind. The big blind is usually double the small blind, and these amounts will increase as pre-determined times in the game (for e.g. every half hour the blinds could double).

3. Every player is dealt two cards, face down. These are called hole cards or pocket cards.

4. The player to the left of the big blind is first to act. The options are: call the bet, raise it, or fold. The initial bet is whatever the Big Blind is. So the player to the left of the ‘Big Blind’ can equal that, or raise it, or fold his hand. Folding would entail him giving his cards back to the dealer , paying in no money and sitting out for the rest of the hand. Betting continues around the table, clockwise.

5. After the first round of betting, three cards are dealt face up in the center of the table/board.. The first three cards in Texas Hold’ em are called ‘The Flop’.

6. Another round of betting ensues, starting with the player to the dealer’s left. The options are again to call the bet, raise it, or fold.

7. A fourth card is dealt face up onto the board. This is called ‘The Turn’.

8. Another round of betting commences. All the same rules apply.

8. The final card is dealt face up. This card is also called ‘The River’.

9. A final round of betting, the remaining players show their cards, and the person who makes the best five card hand by combining their pocket cards with the cards on the board, wins.

See the ranks of hands below to determine the best poker hands.

Ranks of Poker Hands

Below are the various Poker Hands ranked from weakest to strongest. Whoever has the strongest 5-card combination is the winner of the hand.
So at the end (after ‘The River’) of a round of poker, you will have 7 cards available to you; the two in your hand and the five on the table. From these seven cards you must pick your Best five-card combination.
All suits (clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades) are equal.

1. High Card:
Cards are ranked deuce (2) as the lowest to Ace as the highest. If two or more players have the same high card, then the second highest card (and so on, to the fifth card if necessary) determine the winner.
So: A, Q, J, 7, 3 will beat A, Q, 9, 8, 5.

2. One Pair:
A pair (two cards of the same rank) beats high card. The highest pair is a pair of aces. If two or more players have the same pair, then the highest of the three remaining cards (known as kickers) determine the winner.


3. Two Pair:
Two pair beats a pair. If two or more players have two pair, then the highest pair determines the winner. For example, a pair of aces and fours beats a pair of kings and queens. If two or more players have the same two pair then the fifth card kicker determines the winner.

4. Three of a Kind:
Three of a kind (three cards of the same rank) beats two pair. Three aces is the best of these. If two or more players share the same three of a kind hand, the two remaining kickers determine the winner.

5. Straight:
A straight beats three of a kind. A straight is five consecutive card ranks. Aces can be high or low so the lowest straight is ace through five while the highest is ten through ace. There are no kickers with straights since all five cards are needed to make the hand.

6. Flush:
A flush beats a straight. A flush is any five cards all of the same suit (i.e., all diamonds or all spades, etc.). If two of more players share a flush then the player with the highest card (all the way to the fifth card if necessary) in the flush wins.

7. Full House:
A full house beats a flush. A full house is the combination of three of a kind and a pair. If two or more players have a full house then the player with the best three of a kind wins. If those are the same then the player with the best pair wins.

8. Four of a Kind:
Four of a kind (four cards of the same rank) beats a full house. If two or more players share the same four of a kind, then the fifth card kicker determines the winner.

9. Straight Flush:
A straight flush (five consecutive cards all of the same suit) beats four of a kind. Aces can be high or low.

10. Royal Flush:
An ace-high straight flush is called a royal flush, which is the best possible hand in poker.

In the below example, if the player had hole cards of A-Q, he would then have a straight as his five best cards would be 10, J, Q, K, A.

Click Poker resources if you would like to buy/browse any poker chips, cards, books or playing sets.

Enjoy the Game!  🙂

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