Texas Hold'em Poker Rules - Official Rules of Texas Holdem for beginners.Play Free Practice/schools and online poker rooms.

Texas Hold’em Poker Rules

Texas Hold’em is the world’s most popular poker game. There are three major variants of Texas Hold’em: limit, pot-limit, and no-limit.  All variations have the same basic structure and hand values; the betting is what differentiates them.

To begin play, the dealer shuffles a standard 52-card deck. In casinos, most card rooms and online, the dealer is not a player. In home games and in some card rooms however, the game may be self-dealt. In self-dealt games after each hand, the deck is passed clockwise. In games with a designated dealer, a round disk called the button is used to designate the dealer position, and this button moves clockwise after each hand. The dealer or button position is important, because the button is last to act on all rounds of betting, and the blinds are determined in relation to the dealer.

The Blinds

In most games of Texas Hold’em there are no antes; instead there are two forced bets called blinds. The exception to this is in very high stakes no-limit games, and in later rounds of tournaments, when antes are taken in addition to blinds. Before the cards are dealt, the two positions to the left of the button position put in a predetermined amount of money into the pot. 

The person to the immediate left of the dealer puts in the small blind, usually one half of the minimum bet. The player to the immediate left of the small blind is called the big blind. The player in the big blind must post the minimum bet. This action is called posting the blinds and must be done before any cards are dealt.

The Deal

Each player is dealt two cards, face down. The deal begins with one card dealt to the small blind, then one card to the big blind, and continues clock wise around the table until every one has two cards. The cards must be kept face down on the table; their rank is kept a secret from the other players at the table at all times until there is a showdown. The object of the game is to use the two cards in your hand with the eventual five cards that will be dealt face up, to make the best possible five card hand. When all the cards are dealt, the betting will begin.  

The First Round of Betting

After all cards are dealt, the first person who is allowed to bet is the person to the left of the big blind, often referred to as the “Under the Gun” or UTG position. The UTG has three options, Call, Raise, or Fold.

Calling: To call, the player will put out an amount equal to the big blind.

Raising: To raise, the player will put out the amount equal amount, plus additional money. The amount will vary according to the game. In a limit game, the amount you can raise is fixed, that is you can only raise another large blind. So for example, if you are playing 10-20 limit Hold’em, with $5 and $10 blinds, you can raise another $10, making the total $20 if anyone wishes to call. In most casinos and online there are a cap of the amount of raises the players can make in one round - often four. In pot limit, the minimum you can raise is double the previous bet, up to a maximum of an amount equal to the money currently in the pot, including your call. So if you are playing 5-10 pot-limit and you are first to act, the minimum you can raise is an additional $10, and the maximum you can raise is an additional $25. In no-limit, again the minimum you can wager is double the previous bet. However, there is no maximum you can bet, the only limit being the amount of money you have on the table.

Folding: The player places his cards face down, and pushes them into the middle of the table, creating “the muck” or discard pile.  Any time a hand is placed in the muck, it is considered a dead hand. When you fold your hand, you no long part of the betting action, and can no longer win the pot.

All Texas Hold'em players acting after the UTG, in a clock wise manner, have the same three options, to call, to raise or to fold. All raises must at minimum be equal to the previous bet/raise.

The Flop

After the first round of betting is done, the dealer will put the top card of the deck into the muck. This action is called “Burning” and is done to ensure no one has accidentally seen the top card and is done to prevent cheating.  The Dealer than places the next three cards face up on the board, in the middle of the table. These cards are called “the Flop”

Second Round of Betting

This around and all future rounds of betting start with the first active player to the button's left.  The first player to act has the option of betting or checking. To check means to stay in the hand without putting out a bet, until it is his turn to act again. Checking is only an option if no one else has bet. If the player checks, the action goes clockwise to the next player, who can then check or bet. If the game is limit Hold’em, the betting remains the same as it was in the first round of betting. If it is pot limit, the minimum bet is what ever the large blind was, and the maximum is the size of the pot. In no-limit, the minimum is the big blind, and the maximum is what ever he has in front of him. Once a player has made a bet, the players acting after him have the opting to call, raise or fold. Once all the bets are equal, the betting is completed. If there is only one bet, and everyone has folded, the bettor has one the pot, and the next hand will begin. If there are two or more players still in the pot, the play will continue in the next round of betting after the turn.

The Turn

After the second round of betting ends, a second card is burned (discarded) off the top of the deck, and then a single card is placed faced up in the middle, added to the board. This card is called the turn card.

Third Round of Betting

In limit Hold’em, the betting now doubles.  So in the example above of 10-20, the bets and raises are now 20. In all other respects, the betting is identical to the flop.  When all the betting ends, and if there are two or more players left in the hand, the river will be dealt.

The River

After the third round of betting is over, a final card is burned, and a final community card is placed faced up on the board. This card is called “the River”

Fourth and Final Round of Betting

In limit, the betting is double again what it was the first two rounds. After the final round of betting has completed, the hands are revealed, and the pot is awarded. The player with the highest ranking poker hand will win the pot. If there are two hands with identical values, then the pot will be split. 

Side Pots

If at any point one player is all-in (that is, has all their money in the pot) and two or more players continue in the hand, besides the all-in player, then a main pot and a side pot is created.. The player who is all in is able to win all of the money in the side pot, but can take no further action on the hand. He will be not be involved in any future betting and will wait until the showdown to see if he has won the main pot. The other players still in the hand will be acting on the side pot. All future betting will be placed in a separate pile, which only the players who are not all-in are eligible for. If there are two or more players involved in the hand, in addition to the all in player, at showdown, the pots will then be awarded.  First the winner of the side pot is determined, the player with the highest ranked hand, who is not all in, will win it. Then, the main pot will be decided, between the all-in player and the winner of the side pot. Whoever has the highest ranked poker hand between those two will win the main pot.

Dealer Errors

Occasionally, dealer errors will occur during the deal. These are the rules to handle dealer error.

If the first card dealt to the small blind, in the first round of dealing is exposed, a misdeal has occurred, the dealer will take the card, re-shuffle, and re-deal.

If any down card is exposed, due to a dealer turning it over, the deal will continue as normal.  The exposed card will not be kept by the player, but retrieved by the dealer. After the deal has completed, the dealer will take a card off of the top of the deck (which would have been the burn card), and gives it to the player. The exposed card will be considered the burn card, and no additional cards will be burnt before the flop is dealt.

If more than one down card is exposed, then it is a misdeal and there will be a new shuffle with the blinds in the same position.

If the flop contains too many cards, the flop must be re-dealt. If the flop was dealt before the first round of betting has occurred, the flop must be re-dealt. The fouled flop cards will be mixed with the remainder of the deck, reshuffled, and a new flop will be brought, with no card burnt off.

If the dealer exposes the turn card, before the second round of betting has completed, then the card is taken out of play for the round. Once the betting has completed, the dealer will burn and turn what would have been the river card in the turn card's place. Then, the dealer will take the exposed card, and shuffle it back into the deck, before turning the river card.

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