Holdem poker, more commonly known as Texas Holdem, is indisputably the most popular poker game out there. It’s my personal favorite, as it’s a great combination of skill, knowledge, probability, and luck. Its truly a fantastic game, and I suggest that you at least give it a try it’ll be well worth your while.

There are three basic types of Holdem poker:

Limit Holdem – This is when there’s a specific better limit applied in each game, and on each round of betting. Example: In a $5/$10 game, the amount you are allowed bet at one time is either $5 or $10, depending on the betting round.
Pot Limit Holdem – In this form of Texas Holdem, you can bet up to the amount of money in the pot. Example: If there is currently $50 in the pot, you can bet any amount up to $50 – effectively enabling you to double the pot size.
No Limit Holdem Fairly self-explanatory. There’s no limit to what amount you can bet. You can even bet all your chips at once (which is called going “all in”). Note that even in No Limit Holdem, there is still a minimum bet.

Texas Holdem Basic Rules

In Texas Holdem, players are dealt two face-down cards, and then five cards are placed face-up in the middle of the table. These are called community cards. Your hand is determined by forming the best possible hand out of those 7 cards. Any combination of cards will work (for example, you can use your two cards and three of the community cards, or four and one, or just use solely the community cards). The best hand formed wins the pot.

During a game of Holdem, there are four rounds of betting. In Limit Holdem, a maximum of one bet and three raises are allowed for each round of betting. When the betting gets to you, you need to react by folding, calling, or raising. Calling is when you bet an equal amount of money to what another player has bet; Raising is betting money on top of a separate bet; Folding is throwing your cards away and forfeiting. However, if you’re “all in”, you are exempt from this rule – more on this later. Betting is always done in a clockwise rotation.

Game Procedure for Texas Holdem

1) One player becomes the dealer, which is indicated by a red “button”. How this person becomes the dealer is relatively unimportant. Draw straws, play rock-paper-scissors, draw cards in which the highest card wins, or just have someone volunteer. After each hand is played out and won, the dealer button rotates to the left of the current dealer, clockwise. Obviously, as dealer you’re responsible for dealing the other players their cards and setting the community cards face-up in the center of the table.

2) Before the cards are dealt, the two players to the left of the dealer place two blinds (called the Small Blind and the Big Blind) into the pot. The one closest to the dealer posts the Small Blind, and the one to the left of that person is responsible for the Big Blind. The Small Blind is, generally, half of the minimum bet. For example, in a $2/$4 game, the Small Blind is $1. However, if it’s something like a $5/$10 game, the Small Blind gets rounded down to the nearest dollar. So instead of being $2.50, it’s just $2. The Small Blind can vary depending where you’re playing, though. The Big Blind is the minimum bet, which gets the round of betting started.

3) Everyone is dealt two down cards, called “Hole Cards”. The game begins with the player to the left of the Big Blind either calling, raising, or folding to the Big Blind. In a Limit Holdem game, you can only bet the lowest end stakes for the first two rounds. So in a $10/$20 game, you can only bet $10. If you raised, you’d be betting $20; one bet to call the Big Blind, and one bet to raise the stakes. Until all remaining players have placed an equal amount of money into the pot (or the maximum amount of bets has been met), the betting continues. Of course, if all players except one fold, the remaining player wins the pot.

4) After the first round of betting is complete comes the “Flop”. The Flop is the first three community cards, which are laid out face-up by whoever is the current dealer. After the Flop comes another round of betting. The same rules from the first round apply here too. Also, the second round is limited to the lower stake, too. And as usual, the person to the left of the dealer is the first one to bet.

5) Once the Flop is down and the betting for that round is completed comes the “Turn”. The Turn is the fourth community card on the board. Its the same thing as the other betting rounds, except you can now bet the maximum. For example, in a $15/$30 game, after the Turn, you are now required to bet at least $30. Everything else stays pretty much the same; the betting goes around, and the players have to decide to call, raise, or fold.

6) After the Turn comes the last community card, called the “River”. As you may have guessed, this is the final round of betting before a winner (or winners if its a tie) is decided. You continue to use the maximum stake for betting. After all betting is finished, whatever players are still in the game reveal their Hole Cards and generally tell the others what their hand is. The person with the highest ranked hand wins (see Hand Rankings). The winning player then collects all money that’s in the pot, the dealer button is moved to the left, and a new game begins.

Miscellaneous Rules

Besides the fold and raise options, a player may also “check”, which forfeits their turn without folding or raising. This is used when there is no current bet on the table. If there is a bet, the player HAS to either call or raise it, or else he/she must fold the current hand. Example: If everybody simply calls the bet set by the Big Blind, then when the betting gets to the person who first posted the Big Blind (and thus already has put their money on the table), that player has the option to check, thus ending the round of betting with nobody wagering any additional money.

Most of the time, online poker rooms don’t let you get more funds while you’re playing a game. Basically, if you’re currently playing a hand, you can’t go to the cashier and get additional funds to play with in that hand. However, they do give you a way to call a bet that’s more money than you actually have which I alluded to earlier which is called going “All-in”. Essentially, the All-in rule is meant to make it so that a player cannot be forced to forfeit their hand because they are unable to call a bet due to lack of chips.

Though its also used to simply bet all your chips if you’re sure you have the best hand or are trying to bluff more on these in our strategy sections. When someone is All-in, the pot currently at the center of the table ceases to be active once the amount being wagered by the player going All-in is called. What is instead created is a “side pot”, in which the other players may continue betting. Also, if somebody re-raises after you go All-in, the excess money is also put into the side pot.

Naturally, the player who is All-in cannot participate in this side-pot, as that player has no chips left, having put them all into the main pot. Only the players who contribute to the side-pot have a right to win it. When all of the betting has finished, the players reveal their cards. The player with the best hand, including the player who is All-in, wins the main pot. However, the side-pot (assuming there is one) is what must be determined next, and that is done by determining who, out of the players who wagered money in the side-pot, has the best ranked hand. You would just add additional side-pots for any extra players who go All-in. Note: If there are, for example, two people playing against each other and one goes All-in and the other one calls, the players just reveal their hands and the Flop, Turn, or River automatically happens as there is no more betting possible.

Due to the fact that there are multiple people playing at one table, most online poker rooms put limits on the amount of time you are allowed to make a decision when the betting gets to you. Generally speaking, most poker rooms allow 30 seconds total: 10 seconds, followed by a 20-second countdown that appears on the screen. If the user does not, or cannot, respond by the time the countdown is over, one of two things happens:

1) If the player has contributed any money to the pot, he/she is counted as being All-in (not true for all poker rooms)
2) If the player hasn’t placed a bet yet, then the player’s hand is simply folded and the game goes on

So, if you have money in the pot, it will (depending on the poker room) use the same rules as being All-in for you. That means that no more bets can be placed in the main pot, and a side-pot will now become the betting pot for the rest of the players. So you would still have a chance to win the main pot even if you don’t respond or are disconnected. If no money’s been placed into the pot, you lose nothing. It’s a good system, but most poker rooms will just fold your hand no matter what if you don’t respond in time.

If there is ever a tie that can’t be decided even by using the highest card of any hands, then the pot is split evenly between the tying players. Should there be an odd chip, such as trying to split $5.25 between 2 people, the first player to the left of the button (dealer) receives it.

In Limit Texas Holdem, there’s a maximum to the amount of bets that can be made. It caps out at four. Summed up, this is (1) bet, (2) raise, (3) re-raise, (4) cap. Once the cap is reached, no more raising may be done that round. However, if you’re playing Pot-Limit or No-Limit Holdem, there is not limit on the amount of bets that can be placed in a round.