How to Play Texas Hold'Em

  1. Before the game begins, each player contributes the same amount (the Ante) to the pot. At The Poker Practice, the ante is $250.
  2. One player begins as the dealer. Each player is dealt two private pocket cards.
  3. The player to the dealer's left begins the game by posting a small blind. The next player then posts a big blind. Blinds are forced bets;their amounts differ from game to game. At The Poker Practice, the small blind is $500;the big blind is $1000.
  4. With the blinds posted, the game is open to betting. The first player may Fold (forfeit his hand and end his participation in the game), Call (match the minimum bet), Raise (bet more than the minimum bet), or go All-In (bet all of their chips).
  5. Once everyone has chosen an action, the Flop of three community cards is drawn. The remaining players must begin the round of betting again, choosing to Fold, Call, Raise, or go All-In. The remaining players continue.
  6. One more community card is then drawn in the Turn. The same betting process is repeated, and the remaining players continue.
  7. In the final round, the River, the last community card is drawn. This is the last betting round of the game.
  8. At the end of the game, the remaining players reveal their cards. The player with the highest hand is the winner. He receives the entire pot of all the bets made during the game.

Winning Hand Rankings in Texas Hold'Em

Straight Flush - Five cards of the same suit in consecutive order
Four of a Kind - Four cards of the same value
Full House - A combination of three of a kind and a pair
Flush - Any five cards of the same suit
Straight - Five cards in consecutive order, suit irrelevant
Three of a Kind - Three cards of the same value
Two Pair - Two sets of two cards of the same value
One Pair - Two cards of the same value
High Card - The one card with the highest value

When dealing with Texas Hold'Em rankings, there are a few tricky situations that can arise. Some of them occur frequently, so it's worth learning the official rules to properly deal with them.

If two players win in the same category, the player with the highest card wins. That is, if two players have a Straight, but one begins with a King and one with a Nine, the player with the King wins. The same strategy follows if two players have Three of a Kind, Two Pair, and One Pair. The player with three (or two or one) Kings will beat the player with three (or two or one) Nines.

Sometimes two players have the exact same hand, like a pair of Sevens. In this situation, players look to the higher card outside of this pair of Sevens to determine who wins. To do this, players find the five highest cards on the table, including the players' pocket cards and the community cards. The winning card combination must always be included in these five.

Imagine that the community cards are a Jack, Ten, Seven, Four, and Two. Each player has a Seven in their pocket cards. The first player is also holding a Queen and the second player a Nine. The five highest cards on the table, in value order, are a Queen, Jack, and the three Sevens. The player holding the Queen wins. The high card that tips a win, in this case the Queen, is also known as the Kicker.

Let's try a slightly different scenario. Instead of a Queen, the first player has a Six;the second player still has a Nine. The highest cards are now a Jack, Ten, and the three Sevens. In this case, the pot splits evenly between the players because the highest card on the table, a Jack, is a community card. The pocket cards are irrelevant because only the five high cards can be taken into consideration.

If both players have the same pocket cards, such as a Seven and Queen, the pot would also split evenly. With uneven pots, payouts commence from the dealer's left.