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How to Play Texas Holdem Poker

Poker is one of the most wide-ranging games out there. As poker developed along the centuries on several continents and by numerous individuals (see our poker history article) it has become quite a unique game. In its nature, poker is a game that can be modified and tweaked by any player. If you think a certain form of play will entertain you more than the ones you know – go ahead and invent your own poker variation. With the said, one question comes to mind - what is it about Texas Hold'em that makes it today's most popular poker variation? The answers are right ahead of you, but first let's go over the rules of the game.

In Texas Hold'em two blinds are used instead of the traditional antes. The blinds are compulsory bets that two players must place before to instigate the betting process. The blinds are being posted by the two players on the left of the dealer with the first player posting the small blind and the second the big blind. The blinds are usually half of the stakes (minimal and maximal bets) at the table. Meaning that if the table's stakes are 2-4 then the small blind will be 1 dollar and the big blind 2 dollars. After the blinds been posted each player receives two cards facing down which only he can see, they are referred as the 'hole' cards.

Then in a clockwise order each player can decide whether he likes to stay in the hand (hand is the common term for a round of poker) and call the big blind, fold and leave the current hand or raise the bet. If no one has raised the player that posted the big blind can also check (take no action at all). After this betting round is over three cards are placed facing up on the middle of the table. These are the community cards. Each player can see them and use them to form his hand. The first three community cards are also called 'the flop'.

After the flop has been dealt, another betting rounds begins, starting with the player how posted the small blind and moving clockwise. The same rules and options from the first betting round hold on this and future rounds except that the player who posted the blinds act first and not last. After the betting round is finished a fourth community card (usually referred to as 'the turn') is dealt and subsequently comes another betting round. Finally a fifth and final card is added to the board, this card is usually called 'the river'. As in all previous stages, a final betting round takes place. After the players finished their wagering, the hands are shown and the victorious player claims the pot.

Texas Hold'em is seemingly a very easy form of poker. The player can not intervene or change the cards he is receiving, leaving him only to decide whether to bet, check or fold. Thus the focus of the game is strictly on your money actions. Should you call a certain bet? Are these cards more likely to win? Should I bet with this hand? This is the kind of decisions that make a Texas Hold'em game.

Tim Philips, Editorial Staff