Texas Hold 'Em Rules
Texas Hold 'Em is not the only poker game spread in casino cardrooms. However, it is easily the most popular. Most any cardroom that spreads poker spreads Texas Hold 'Em. While Stud, Omaha (and apparently, some Draw) games are still played, Texas Hold 'Em is the game to learn.
After hearing the rules, you will notice an immediate connection between this and the Community Poker games played in dealer's choice. You're not off the mark. Texas Hold 'Em is a community poker game, in that cards will be dealt face-up in the center of the table to be shared by all players in conjunction with the cards in their hand. Once the game is completed, there will be five cards face-up in the center of the table to be used with the two hole cards dealt to each player.
The button is a circular white disc that gets passed around the table in clockwise order. The button is meant to signify the player that is "dealer". Just as when you play in home games, betting rounds are opened by the player to the left of the dealer. In a cardroom, however, a dealer is provided by the house to keep players from dealing cards. Since there is a casino dealer at the table, we still need to know which player "would have" been the dealer if it were a regular game. Therefore, the dealer button signifies that player who is the "dealer" in a given hand.
The dealer deals cards beginning with the player to the left of the button, and ending with the player who has the button in front of him. When the hand is over, either the dealer or the player will move the button one spot in clockwise motion for the next hand.
The Blinds and Pre-Flop Betting Round
This concept is the most complicated part about Texas Hold 'Em to the home game player. In any poker game, the pot needs to be started with an amount of money. If there was no money in the game to start, there'd be no incentive to play. In most of our home games, we start the pot off with an ante from each player. In Texas Hold 'Em however, there are no antes, but rather 'blind bets' that are used to start the pot off.
A blind bet is a forced bet that must be made by a player before he even sees his cards. It is a mandatory bet. Most cardrooms typically have two blinds, the small blind and the big blind. The big blind is equal to the fixed betting limit for the first round. I'll clarify. At a 3-6, the fixed betting amount for the first two rounds of betting is 3 dollars. Therefore, the size of the big blind is 3 dollars. The size of the small blind is typically half of the big blind; where the big blind is an odd number like 3 dollars, the small blind is either 1 or 2 dollars, depending on the cardroom.
The player to the left of the dealer places the small blind into the pot. The player to the left of the small blind places the big blind into the pot. Both of these blind bets are mandatory, and are made before the cards are even dealt. They are forced bets, but they are live bets. What this means is that they are the beginning of an actual betting round. Two cards are dealt to each player and beginning to the left of the big blind, players decide if they will see and call the amount of the big blind, see and raise, or fold. When it reaches the small blind, he owes the difference between the two blind bets (since the big blind has put in more money than him), plus any raises that were made. When it reaches the big blind, he owes for any raises that were made, and himself has the option to raise.
This last point is important. What we're used to in our home games is that when a player bets, if everybody calls or folds to that bet but nobody raises it, then the initial bettor is unable to raise it. In Hold 'Em, because that big blind bet was mandatory, the big blind has the option to raise, even if nobody raised into him. The dealer presents this option to the big blind, by asking "Option?" before proceeding with the game.
After every player in the pot has invested the same amount of money to stay in (having called the big blind and any raises that were made), that betting round is complete. Next is the most pivotal point in the game, the flop.
The dealer burns the top card off the deck and proceeds to deal three cards face-up in the center of the table. Forget the blinds now, because each of the next three betting rounds function exactly as they do in your home game. The betting round is opened (or passed) by the player to the left of the dealer button, and moves clockwise around the table, the same as a regular betting round.
At a 3-6 table, the fixed betting amount on this round is still 3 dollars. Therefore, all bets or raises must be 3 dollars. A player who wishes to call a previous bet and raise puts 6 dollars into the pot. In such a game, you needn't announce the amount of money you're putting in the pot because it's fixed. If you're betting, it's 3 dollars. If you're raising, it's 6 dollars. If you're calling 2 bets and raising, it's 9 dollars. In other words, it's always fixed. You need only announce your action, and the amount of money is assumed.
After this betting round comes the turn.
The dealer burns another card off the top of the deck and proceeds to deal a fourth card face-up in the center of the table. A betting round ensues.
At a 3-6 table, the fixed betting amount on this round and the next one increases to 6 dollars. Bets and raises must be 6 dollars. This doubling of the fixed betting amount tends to thin the field of players in the pot.
The dealer burns another card off the top of the deck and proceeds to deal a fifth and final card face-up in the center of the table. A betting round ensues.
As mentioned, the fixed betting amount on this round at a 3-6 table is 6 dollars.
Players still in the game reveal their hands to determine the winner. Your hand is determined by combining the two hole cards that were dealt to you with the five cards on the board, producing the best five-card poker hand.
It can happen that the five cards on the board are better than any hand that includes your hole cards. In a rare case like this, you're said to be "playing the board", meaning that the five cards in the center of the table is your five-card hand. The best you can do is tie with another player who is also playing the board.
This leads to an important point about tie-hands. However you deal with tie-hands in your home games, they're dealt with in cardrooms by simply splitting the pot. If you and an opponent, for example, both have Straights to the same rank, then you split the pot in half between you.
Texas Hold 'Em is a community poker game, with two cards dealt to each player and five cards dealt in the center of the table. Like any community poker game, you combine your cards with the community cards to determine the best five-card poker hand.
As with any community poker game, the way in which the community cards are presented is specific. In the case of Texas Hold 'Em, they are presented the first three at a time (the "Flop"), followed by a fourth (the "Turn"), and finally a fifth (the "River"). Betting rounds ensue the initial deal as well as each of the three community card showings. The fixed betting amount for each of the four rounds is determined by the table limit. At a 3-6, it's 3 dollars on the first two betting rounds and 6 dollars on the last two betting rounds. At a 5-10, it's 5 dollars on the first two betting rounds and 10 dollars on the last two betting rounds.
Now, you know the rules of the most widely-played poker game outside of home games.