Texas Hold’em is the most popular variant of poker, played by millions of people all over the world. The game’s quick and easy format makes for a great way to start learning poker.
The goal of No Limit Hold’em is to make the best hand, based on standard poker hand rankings, using any combination of the two cards in your hand and the five community cards on the board. You can win a pot in one of two ways: if everyone else folds their hands, or if you have the best hand of remaining at showdown (the end of the hand).
The following guide will walk you through all the basics of a hand of No Limit Hold’em.
At the start of every hand, one player is assigned the Dealer button. This button represents the theoretical “dealer” for that hand, and it moves clockwise around the table after each hand. The two players to the left of the Dealer are the Small Blind and the Big Blind, respectively. The Small Blind is directly to the left of the Dealer, and the Big Blind is directly left of the Small Blind.
Note that Small Blind and Big Blind refer to the positions of the players in those seats, as well as to the amount of money that they must put in the pot before the start of the hand. Blinds are similar to “antes”, in that they are a forced bet that is put into play before the start of the hand. In No Limit Hold’em, the blinds also serve to denote what the stakes are of any particular game. So if you see a game listed as “€1/€2 NLH”, that simply means that the Small Blind is €1 and the Big Blind is €2. The amount of the Big Blind also represents the minimum bet size that can be made at any point in the hand.
Once the two blinds have been posted, everyone is dealt their two hole cards. The player directly left of the Big Blind is first to act. This player can either fold (throw in his cards and be done with this hand), call (match the current bet, which in this case is simply the amount of the big blind), or raise (to any amount that is at least double the current bet or raise).
Action then continues clockwise around the table in this same manner, with each player having those same three options (although the player in the Big Blind can simply ‘check’ if the action has not been raised when it gets to him) until all bets are matched. The chips in play are then pulled into the middle of the table to form the initial pot, and we enter the next phase of the hand.
Three cards are dealt face up in the middle of the table. These are the first of the “community cards”. These can be used by any player at the table, along with their two hole cards, to make the best five-card poker hand.
The action now starts with the player directly to the left of the Dealer position.
That player can now opt to check (choosing to not bet and simply “pass” the action along) or bet (any amount that is at least the size of the big blind).
Once a bet has been made, similar to preflop, betting continues until all active players (who have not folded) have placed equal bets in the pot.
Once the flop action is complete, another card is dealt face up in the middle, bringing the total number of community cards to four. Just like on the flop, action continues clockwise around the table, starting with the first active player to the left of the Dealer.
The available options to each player work exactly like they did on the flop. Once all the turn action is complete, we enter the final phase of the hand.
One last community card is dealt face up on the board. The final round of action now takes place, following the same pattern as on the flop and turn.
Once the action is complete, all remaining players reveal their hole cards. The player with the best five-card hand, using any combination of his two hole cards and the five community cards, will win the pot.