Rules of Texas Hold ‘Em Poker
The objective of the game is to make the best five-card ‘Hand’ possible from the two, private Hole Cards a player is dealt, plus five Community Cards that are eventually shown to players after a few rounds of betting.
Flow of the game:
- Each player is dealt two cards, which only that player sees, known as Hole Cards
- Five cards are then placed face down on the table (the Community Cards)
- The first betting round then plays out
- Three Community Cards are then turned face-up. This is called the Flop.
- After each of the next two betting rounds, the other two Community Cards are turned over, one by one. These are called the Turn and River.
- These 5 Community Cards can be used by all players to make their best possible five-card Hand. I.e. you can “take” any 3, 4 or 5 of them – and use both, one, or none of your two Hole Cards – to make the best possible 5-card Hand.
- During the betting rounds, to stay in the Hand and see the next card, a player must have put the same amount of Chips in the Pot as every remaining player.
- The best poker Hand wins the Pot.
Rankings of poker Hands
To see the rankings of poker Hands, visit our Rankings of Poker Hands page.
How to Play Texas Hold ‘Em poker
To learn to play Texas Hold ‘Em “hands-on”, just download the app and start playing for free. Some of our games will pit you on a level playing field with players of similar skill.
If you’d rather learn the rules of Hold ‘Em first, then these instructions should help.
For the game to be fair, the position of a player, at every table, rotates every Hand. The Dealer Button (or ‘Button’) indicates which player is the nominal Dealer for the current game.
As the game starts, the player immediately to the left, (i.e. clockwise) from the Button, posts the “Small Blind” – the first forced Bet. The player immediately clockwise from the Small Blind then posts the “Big Blind”, a forced bet twice the size of the Small Blind.
Then, each player is dealt the two “Hole” cards – no one else sees them.
Betting action proceeds clockwise around the table, starting with the player immediately to the left (i.e. clockwise) of the Big Blind. This position is known as “Under the Gun” (UTG).
The Player Betting Options are:
‘Check’ = Decline to Bet for the moment (only available if nobody has Bet yet).
‘Fold’ = Give up the Hand completely, along with any Chips contributed so far.
‘Bet’ = Raise the stakes by contributing chips that others must match to stay in the hand. Only available if no one has Bet yet.
‘Call’ = Agree to put in the same money as the most-recent player has done.
‘Raise’ = Increase the Bet made by the previous player by at least an amount equal to any previous Raise. “No-Limit” Texas Hold ‘Em is the most exciting form of poker, because at any time a player may push their entire Stack of Chips into the Pot when they Bet. This is called going ‘All-In’.
See Poker Betting Strategies, for a strategy guide to betting.
Before seeing the Flop (but after seeing his or her two Hole Cards), each player now Folds – or plays their Hand by calling or raising the Big Blind. The action begins to the left of the Big Blind, whose Blind is deemed a live Bet on this round. For example, if the Big Blind were $2, it would cost $2 for a subsequent player to call, or at least $4 to Raise.
Action then proceeds clockwise around the table.
Betting continues around the table until all active players (i.e. those who have not Folded) have placed equal Bets in the Pot.
Three cards community cards are then turned face-up on the board (the “Flop”). These are available to all players still participating in the Hand.
Betting on the flop begins with the active player immediately to the left of the Button. He or she may Check (passing the action to the next active player clockwise) or Bet.
Every subsequent player in the round may Check or Bet if it has been checked around to them, or Call or (Re-)Raise if someone has Bet before them.
Once again, betting continues around the table until all active players (i.e. those who have not Folded) have placed equal Bets in the Pot.
Another (the fourth) Community Card is turned over (the “Turn”). There are now six cards that players have access to to make their best 5-card combination: two private Hole Cards and four Community Cards. Only the best 5 count (so if a player has three pairs, this only counts as two pairs plus a high card). Another round of betting then starts, in the same way that we saw after the Flop, again beginning with the active player immediately to the left of the Button.
Now the fifth and final community card (the “River”) is turned over. Betting then proceeds in the same way as it did immediately after the Flop and the Turn.
“Pushing Players Out”
If, at any stage, a player is the last remaining player in the Hand, meaning that all others have Folded, then they are the winner of that Hand and do not have to reveal their Hole Cards.
If more than one player remains when the final betting round is complete, the last person to Bet or Raise shows their cards, (unless there was no Bet on the final round in which case the player immediately clockwise from the Button shows their cards first.)
The player with the best five-card poker Hand wins the Pot.
In the event of identical Hands, the Pot will be equally divided between the players with the best Hands. All Suits are equal.
After the Pot has been won, the Button now moves clockwise to the next player. Blinds are once again posted and new Hole Cards are dealt to each player.
Now that you know the rules of No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em Poker, see how Match Poker Online™ scores the game in a unique and revolutionary way: How Match Poker Works.