Texas Holdem Poker 101: How to Play It

Poker in general, and Texas Hold 'Em in particular, has emerged as one of the most popular activities in the world today. This is a far cry from the days when the game was looked upon with suspicion, and many of the games in existence outside of Las Vegas or Atlantic City were underground and illegal. Most reputable people were either disinterested or downright scared about playing these types of games. 

However, today’s games are filled with all types of people from different backgrounds and walks of life. Teachers, law enforcement officers, laborers, office workers, entrepreneurs, retirees, housewives, plumbers, and any other occupation could all be sitting at a poker table with one another at any given time. 

When you think about it, in a world that is better understanding the importance of diversity, poker is the ultimate symbol of inclusion. But if you are new to the poker games, or even if you’ve played but still have basic questions about how to play Texas Holdem poker, this article is for you:

  1. Game Setup and Structure

A game of Hold ‘Em can be played with anywhere from 2 to 10 people, though it is usually played online 6-handed, and as many as possible (up to 10) in live play. A standard 4-suit, 52-card deck is used, with Aces playing as both high and low cards, depending on the hand. 2 hole cards (face-down) are dealt to the players. The board consists of 3-5 cards (depending on the betting action).

  1. Basics of Gameplay

Hold ‘Em doesn’t have antes (except in later stages of tournaments), so the betting is opened by a small blind (directly to the left of the dealer) and a big blind (two spots to the left of the dealer). Once these bets are posted, each player is dealt their 2 hole cards.

Then comes a round of betting, beginning with the seat directly to the left of BB. This is called the “under-the-gun” position. If at least 2 players remain in the pot after the first round of betting, a flop of 3 cards is then dealt. 

After another round of betting, if more than one player remains in the hand, a 4th card (known as the "turn") is dealt. Another round of betting ensues, and if multiple players still remain, a final card (called the "river") is dealt. A final round of betting takes place, and if two or more players remain in the hand, a showdown occurs where all players reveal their hole cards to declare the winner.

  1. Hand Rankings (Which Hands Beat Which Other Hands)
  • Royal Flush (10JQKA suited)
  • Straight Flush (5 consecutive suited cards)
  • Four of a Kind (4 cards of the same rank)
  • Full House (3 of a kind and a pair)
  • Flush (5 suited cards)
  • Straight (5 consecutive unsuited cards, i.e. 45678)
  • Three of a Kind (3 cards of the same rank i.e., 999)
  • Two Pair (2 different cards, both of matching ranks)
  • One Pair (2 cards of the same rank, i.e. AA)
  • High Card (no pair, highest card in hand)

Other Things to Know About How to Play Texas Holdem Poker

It would be impossible to cover everything about the game in one beginner’s blog. In addition to the things mentioned today, other tips include studying basic principles of body language, learning the different player styles, analyzing hands (both in hand and later), and understanding all of the nuanced rules.