Texas Holdem is played on a single table with two to 10 players.
Each player is dealt two private cards (known as "hole cards") that belong to them alone.
Five community cards are dealt face-up, to form the "board".
A player may use these shared the cards of the board in conjunction with their own hole cards to make their highest possible poker hand.
The structure of Texas Hold'em can be broken up into three divisions:
- Betting Rounds
The goal is simple: win as many chips as you can, one pot at a time. You win this pot by having the best hand or by having all other players fold before the showdown.
Setup & Button
Once you have your players sitting around the table, the first thing you need to have is chips.
The next step is to pick a player who will start with the "button" which shows who is the active dealer for the current game.
Texas hold'em is played by a rotating dealer and the player on button receives last action on all post-flop streets of play.
Once the hand completes, the player with the dealer button will pass it to the player left to him or her.
The Blinds (blind Bets)
There are two blinds in Holdem: a small blind and a big blind. The small blind is generally half the amount of the big blind, although it varies.
The player directly to the left of the button posts the small blind, and the player to his or her direct left posts the big blind.
The size of the blinds will dictate the stakes of the game you will play.
Without these blinds, the game would be very boring because no one would be required to put any money into the pot.
Once you have the blinds out, you're now ready to deal the first hand.
The player to the immediate left of the dealer button receives the first card and then the dealer pitches cards around the table in a clockwise until each has received two starting cards.
Betting action proceeds clockwise around the table, starting with the player "under the gun" (immediately clockwise from the big blind).
Player Betting Options
The available actions are "fold", "call" or "raise".
Each poker player always has the option to fold (discard their cards) and give up any interest in the pot.
To call is to match the amount the previous player has bet.
To raise is to not only match the previous bet, but to also double the amount of the big blind.
After seeing the hole cards, each player now has the option to play by calling or raising the big blind.
The action begins to the left of the big blind, which is considered a "live" bet on this round.
That player has the option to fold, call or raise. For example, if the big blind was $2, it would cost $2 to call, or at least $4 to raise. Action then proceeds clockwise around the table.
Betting continues on each betting round until all active players (who have not folded) have placed equal bets in the pot.
Now, three cards are dealt face-up on the board.
In Hold'em, the three cards on the flop are community cards, available to all players still in the hand.
Betting on the flop begins with the active player immediately clockwise from the button.
The betting options are similar to pre-flop with two exceptions:
- The first player to act is the next player left of the dealer
- The first player to act can check or bet; As there has been no bet made, calling is free.
A bet on the flop is the amount on the big blind.
When the betting round on the flop is completed, the dealer deals one card facedown followed by a single card face-up, also known as the turn. This is the fourth community card ('fourth street') and now a new betting round starts beginning with the active player immediately clockwise from the button.
When betting action is completed for the turn round, the "river" or "Fifth Street" is dealt face-up on the board.
The river is the fifth and final community card.
Betting again begins with the active player immediately clockwise from the button.
When there is more than one active player left, 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.
After the pot is awarded, a new hand is ready to be played and the button moves clockwise to the next player.