How To Play

Learn how to play poker in minutes with our guide to the basics

Texas Hold’em Overview

NOTE: to continue playing and move on to the next betting round, players must call the highest bet of the round or bet "all in" at any point in the hand - they must bet their entire stack, whether it matches the all-in bet or not. The all-in hand remains in play until the showdown, and all further action between players with multiple chips takes place in the side pot.

How to Play Texas Hold’em

You can play Hold'em with two players or as many as you can fit on a physical table, but on the Internet in particular, tables tend to accommodate a maximum of six or nine players. Whether you're playing cash games or tournaments, Hold'em hands follow the same rules:

All community-card poker games start with the blinds: the small blind to the dealer's left and the big blind to the small blind's left. The blinds are moved clockwise around the table, one space per turn, so that each player places the blinds once per turn.

Players are dealt two cards face down (hole cards), and five community cards (called the board) are dealt over four rounds of play. Players build their best five-card poker hand, using any combination of cards from the deck and from their own hand.

Hand Rankings

The hand rankings for Texas hold’em (highest to lowest):

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Royal Flush

A straight flush, ten to ace

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Straight Flush

Five consecutive cards of the same suit

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Four of a Kind

Four cards of the same rank

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Full House

Three cards of the same rank, plus a pair

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Flush

Five cards of the same suit

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Straight

Five cards of consecutive rank

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Three of a Kind

Three cards of the same rank

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Two Pair

Two pairs of matching ranked cards

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One Pair

Two cards of matching rank

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High Card

Five unpaired cards

For hand examples and more detail on the basic actions in poker, see Rules of Poker.

 

Preflop

First betting round (preflop): After the blinds have been folded and the hole cards dealt, a clockwise progression is made from the big blind (highest bet), with each player playing in turn.call (match a previous bet), raise (increase the bet) or fold (throw their hole cards away and wait for the next hand to start).

NOTE: to continue playing and move on to the next betting round, players must call the highest bet of the round or bet "all in" at any point in the hand - they must bet their entire stack, whether it matches the all-in bet or not. The all-in hand remains in play until the showdown, and all further action between players with multiple chips takes place in the side pot.

Once all players have acted, the flop (three cards) is dealt face-up for all players to use: Spade_10 Diamond_1 Diamond_4

The Flop

Second betting round: Betting starts with the first active player to the left of the button (the dealer position) for the rest of the betting rounds.  In turn, players may bet or check (refuses to bet and continues). If a bet is placed, all players must at least settle it (son) in order to proceed to the next stage, i.e.turn.  If all players check, the turn card is dealt for free: Spade_10 Diamond_1 Diamond_4 Spade_11

The Turn

Third round of betting: the remaining players again take it in turns to decide whether to pass, bet, raise (if they've bet) or fold. If more than one player remains after this betting round, a fifth common card, called the "bidding card", is dealt.river, is dealt: Spade_10 Diamond_1 Diamond_4 Spade_11 Diamond_8

The River

Fourth round of betting: players have a final round of betting on the river. If more than one player remains in the hand at the end, their cards are revealed (showdown) and the player with the best hand wins the pot;

Of course, not all the letters will make it to the showdown! If, at any point in the game, all players except one fold, that player wins the pot and doesn't need to show his cards.

The Showdown

Example Showdown: using the board above Spade_10 Diamond_1 Diamond_4 Spade_11 Diamond_8, four players reach showdown. Player A’s hole cards: Spade_1 Club_4. This makes their best five-card hand two pair, aces and fours Club_1 Diamond_1 Club_4 Diamond_4 Spade_11

Player B’s hole cards Heart_1 Club_10. This makes a higher two pair, aces and tens Heart_1 Diamond_1 Club_10 Spade_10 Spade_11

Player C’s hole cards: Heart_13 Spade_12. This makes a straight Spade_10 Spade_11 Heart_13 Spade_12 Diamond_1

Player D’s hole cards: Diamond_11 Diamond_10. This makes Player D a flush Diamond_1 Diamond_11 Diamond_10 Diamond_8 Diamond_4 – the winning hand.

Chopping Pots

Several players may have the same five-card hand when the cards are dealt. They may have the same cards (two pairs or a straight), or the hand itself may be the best five-card hand available (for example, the hand may be a Royal Flush - an unbeatable hand). In this case, when the cards are dealt, all the same cards win, and the players share the pot equally;

Variations of Texas Hold’em

Texas hold'em can be played from two players up to a full table (usually a maximum of nine players) and with different betting rules (see below: No Limit, Fixed Limit and Pot Limit).  

The most popular hold’em variant, found widely online, is Short Deck (also known as Strip Deck or Hold'em 6+), where all cards lower than six are removed. Playing with a 36-card deck changes the order of poker hands, so that a flush beats a full house. Aces always play high and low straights, so the lowest straight in the Short Deck is A-6-7-8-8-9. In the Short Deck, the lowest straight is A-6-7-8-9.

You can play three-card hold'em in the same way as two-card hold'em, keeping your three cards and using any combination of the (now eight) available cards to make the best five-card hand,Pineapple Hold'em is the most common three-card poker variant. In Pineapple, players are dealt three cards instead of two, and discard one of them before the first (preflop) betting round. Play then proceeds in the same way as in Hold'em.

Crazy Pineapple The game starts like pineapple, with each player receiving three cards, but after the flop, the cards are discarded.

All the customizations used in the classic card game can be used in Texas Hold'em: For example, it can be played as a two-board game, where two flops, two spins and a river are dealt and the pot is split between the winners of the two boards, or even as a high and low card game (although this is unusual) ;

How to Play Texas Hold’em Games Online

When it comes to playing Texas Hold'em online, there's no shortage of options. Many players discover poker by watching televised tournaments and no-limit cash games. Low-stakes online games or freeroll tournaments in this simple format are a convenient and cost-effective way to learn to play;

The WPT Global offers cash games at different buy-in levels (from microstakes upwards), allowing new players to quickly familiarize themselves with the mechanics of the game and gain experience much faster than in live play. Simply create an account (in countries where WPT Global offers services) and sit down with players from all over the world, whenever and wherever it suits you.

When you learn to play online, you don't need to know how to count chips, shuffle cards or calculate pot size - everything is displayed and your options are highlighted when it's your turn. In Texas Hold'em, as in any other game, practice makes perfect. By playing online, you can learn faster and with much lower stakes than in a traditional poker room.

Of course, the site has also become the place to be for high-stakes poker. The biggest money games (and head-to-head matches) are now played online rather than in the real world. There's nothing to stop a new player making a name for himself online and challenging the best players. Texas hold'em is a poker variant offered at various buy-in levels. Today, high-stakes games are also played on the web.