The Rules of Texas Holdem

Texas Holdem poker is a simple game to learn with just a few basic rules: All players are initially dealt two private cards (hole cards) no one else is allowed to see. Then the dealer spreads out five more communal cards face upwards – first three, then one, then one more. Therefore, all players in the game can make use of seven cards (2 hole cards + 3 + 1 + 1) to create their optimal five-card hand. So Holdem allows players to assemble poker by selecting any combination of the five face-up cards on the table, plus two, one (or none) of their own two hole cards.

Betting occurs before and after the communal cards are revealed, and the best poker hand ranking is the one that scoops the pot. Texas Holdem games can feature four kinds of betting:

1. Holdem ‘limit’, which applies a cap to every betting round.
2. Holdem ‘no limit’, in which players are free to bet any amount.
3. Holdem ‘pot limit’, where the bet limit is the total of the pot.
4. Holdem ‘mixed’, which alternates limit and no-limit roundss.

How to play Texas Holdem

The Blinds
Notice ‘the dealer button’, a marker indicating which player is the nominated dealer for the current game. Before starting any game, the player immediately left of the button posts the initial forced bet (the small blind). Then the player next left again posts the ‘big blind’. This is usually twice the amount of the small blind, but can sometimes vary.

Player Betting Options
Just like other kinds of poker, Holdem has five betting decisions: ‘fold’, ‘check’, ‘bet’, ‘call’ and ‘raise’. The previous action always determines how many of these options remain available. When no bets have been placed, a player can bet or check (keep their cards, but refuse to bet). Once someone has placed a bet, the following players can choose to fold, call or raise. Note that a call matches a previous bet, but a raise actually increases that amount.

Pre-Flop
Upon viewing their private hole cards, players can call or raise the big blind. The action moves clockwise from the big blind, and each player may fold, call or raise. There is betting at every round which continues until all players (except those who have chosen to fold) have put the same bets in the pot.

The Flop
At this point the dealer places three cards on the table, face upwards – an action called the ‘flop’. These communal cards are available to every player remaining in the game with a live hand. Flop betting starts with the player immediately left of the button. Betting options are much like the pre-flop, but when no one has previously bet, a player can decide to check and pass the action clockwise to the next player.

The Turn
When the flop round betting is finished, the ‘turn’ card is placed on the table, face upwards. The appearance of this fourth communal card triggers another round of betting. Once again this starts with the player immediately left of the button.

The River
When the turn round betting is finished, the ‘river’ card is placed on the table, face upwards. This is the fifth and last of the communal cards in Texas Holdem games. A final round of betting ensues, again starting with the player immediately left of the button.

The Showdown
Where more than one player remains in the game after the final betting round, the last player to bet or raise shows their cards first. However, if there were no bets in the final round, the person immediately left of the button will be the first to show. The winner is the player with the best poker hand ranking. Where players present identical hands, the pot is split equally between those with the best poker hands.

Top 10 Best starting Hands in Texas Holdem Poker

To do well at Holdem poker, you need to understand which are the best Texas Holdem hands and know how to play at any particular point in the game.

 

A guide to the ultimate hands for Texas Holdem.

Poker Hands

1. Pocket Aces
The classic poker starting hand, pocket aces represent a strong pre-flop contender to beat any other two cards and give you a 4:1 chance against virtually any other hand. Expect to receive these ‘pocket rockets’ only once in 221 hands, but note that when more players stay in the game your winning odds reduce – so the best outcomes will always be against fewer opponents.

2. Pocket Kings
Pocket kings will triumph over any hand – other than aces. Very few flops will cause you concern. But bear in mind that kings will only better a hand containing one ace around two in every three occasions. With pocket kings, you can usually rely on getting your money at the pre-flop phase.

3. Pocket queens
Remember that when you receive pocket queens there are only eight stronger cards still in the deck. And that total could be less if you’re up against a player holding an ace, a king, or perhaps ace king. Push this hand hard before the flop, raising and/or re-raising most of the time. You’ll find plenty of opponents ready to commit with far weaker Texas Holdem hands.

4. Ace-King Suited
Some players call this configuration ‘Anna Kournikova’ – nice to see but it rarely delivers on its promise! So ace-king suited is not a hand to fall in love with. But neither is it a weak combination because you still have a good chance against many pocket pairs. It’s just that when you fail to connect with the flop, all you really hold is an ace-high.

5. Pocket Jacks
This Texas Holdem hand gives you 50:50 against any unpaired hand, and comes out a decent pre-flop favourite to outdo any lower pocket pair. It should be considered a very promising hand, but just be wary when an opponent makes an early-position raise.

6. Pocket tens
Another strong starting hand, pocket tens mean you won’t have to hit that third ten on the flop to survive. Half the time, pocket tens can still outdo overcards, but are not anything like as secure as a pocket jack combination. Where you see a lot of action before you’re in, it’s sometimes best to fold your tens before the flop.

7. Ace-Queen Suited
This hand won’t beat an offsuit ace-king, yet it gains a superior ranking because it is quite strong against other starting poker hands. And remember, if you should completely miss the flop, an ace-queen combination should still keep you clear of trouble.

8. Ace-King Offsuit
A weaker poker hand ranking than its suited option, an ace-king offsuit has less chance of hitting a flush. However, this combination is still a 4-in-10 winner against other poker hands – except kings and aces.

9. Ace-Jack Suited
A suited ace-jack, like its ace-king or ace-queen counterparts, has the potential to deliver a royal flush. But take care if an opponent has raised early. And don’t forget that an ace-king or ace-queen combination will still beat your ace-jack.

10. King-Queen Suited
A king-queen suited poker hand can give you plenty of flushes and straights, and hitting just one pair could leave you with a strong hand. And if you sense there are stronger Texas Holdem hands around, you should also be able to handle folding this combination quite easily.

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