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Welcome to the Texas holdem poker section of our site. On this page we provide a complete Texas Holdem guide, with information about how to play, the rules, and online versions. We also offer some observations about free games, strategy, and tips for winning. Throughout you’ll find links to other pages that cover specific subjects in greater detail.
We’re going to assume that the reader is a beginner and is starting from scratch. This doesn’t mean that there’s nothing in this section to help the intermediate or advanced player. If you already understand something we’ve covered here, just skip past it and move on to something you do need to understand.
Texas holdem is one of a number of poker games called “community” poker games. In a community poker game, each player receives a certain number of cards, and each player also shares several community cards which are dealt in the middle of the table. In this specific game, you get 2 cards face down, and 5 cards are spread out in the middle of the table.
You can use any combination of the 2 cards in your hand and the 5 cards on the board in order to create the best possible 5 card poker hand. Rounds of betting take place during certain parts of the deal, which happen in stages, and the player who hasn’t folded and has the best hand at the end wins the money in the pot.
Other community card games that are related to Texas holdem include Omaha, Omaha 8, Pineapple, and Crazy Pineapple. The main differences between Texas holdem and these other community card games is the number of cards dealt to each player-in Omaha you get 4 “hole cards”, and in Pineapple you get 3.
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Now that you have a general idea of how the game works, we’ll cover some specific Texas Holdem poker rules in detail. Once you’ve read this section, you should have a pretty good idea of how to play Texas holdem. We also include a link to our incredibly detailed guide to how to play Texas holdem, as well as other detailed guides. Or, if you’re more of a visual person, you can check out this short video from Poker News about how to play Texas Holdem.
The first thing you need to understand about the game is how the betting works. In most other varieties of poker, every player has to place a mandatory bet called an “ante”. They place this bet every hand, and this forced bet is what drives the action. Without a forced bet, players could just wait until they had a perfect hand before entering a pot. That would make for a boring poker game.
You’ll occasionally run into a Texas holdem game which uses an ante, but most of them don’t. All Texas holdem games (even those with an ante) use a “blinds” system. A blind is a forced bet, just like an ante, but it’s a rotating bet. You only have to place a blind bet when it’s your turn; the blinds rotate around the table.
There are 2 blinds in Texas holdem-the small blind and the big blind. These are pre-determined by the stakes of the game. In general, the small blind is half the size of the big blind. In a home poker game, the blinds are posted by the 2 players to the left of the dealer. In a casino cardroom, where there’s a professional dealer, a dealer button rotates around the table so that the players know who has to post the blind. In a heads-up situation, the player with the dealer button places the small blind, and the other player places the big blind.
Texas holdem can be played in one of 3 varieties based on the betting rules:
- Limit holdem
- Pot limit holdem
- No limit holdem
In limit holdem, the sizes of the bets are pre-determined, and you can’t bet more than those sizes.
You’re playing in a $3/$6 limit holdem game. During the first 2 rounds of the hand, your bets must be in increments of $3. You can bet $3 or you can raise $3. During the final 2 rounds of the hand, your bets must be in increments of $6. You can bet $6 or you can raise $6.
In pot limit holdem, the sizes of the bets are limited by the amount of money in the pot. You cannot bet or raise more than the size of the pot.
You’re playing in a pot limit game with $2/$5 blinds. There’s $7 in the pot, so the most you can bet or raise when it’s your turn is $7. Once someone has bet $7 into the pot, there’s now $14 in the pot, so you can raise that amount. Pots can grow in size very quickly in pot limit holdem, which changes the strategy in multiple ways.
In no limit holdem, you can bet as many chips as you want to, as long as you have the money in front of you.
You’re playing in a no limit holdem game with $2/$5 blinds. There’s $7 in the pot, and you have $93 in chips in front of you. You can raise up to $93 if you want to, but no more.
One common misconception that’s used as a plot point in television and film is when a poker player has to risk his house or something in order to cover the size of a bet someone else made at the table. This never happens in real life. In an actual poker game, you never have to bet more money than you have in front of you, but the other player only has to risk that amount, too.
You raise the pot to $93, but the player who acts after you only has $50 in front of him. He can still call your bet, but you’ll only risk $50 against that player. The money is put into a side pot.
The last piece of the betting puzzle is based on the way the deal is handled. Here’s how that works:
The 2 players to the left of the dealer post the blinds. Then the dealer deals everyone their 2 hole cards. The dealer deals one card at a time face down to each player around the table from left to right starting with the player in the small blind. This continues until each player has received two face down cards or hole cards.
Once everyone has their hole cards, there’s a round of betting. You can call the big blind to get into the hand, or you can fold. If you call, you have to put a bet of the appropriate size into the pot. If you fold, you don’t have to put any money into the pot, but you don’t get any additional cards, and you don’t have a chance of winning at the showdown. If you really like your hand, you can raise, which means you put the amount of the bet into the pot along with an additional amount. The player who bet previously has to put more money into the pot in order to stay in the hand.
After this betting action, the dealer deals 3 cards into the center of the table. These 3 cards are called the flop. After the flop, there’s another round of betting. The only players who can participate at this point are the ones who didn’t fold before the flop.
Then the dealer deals another face up card-the turn. After the turn, there’s another round of betting.
Finally, the dealer deals one more face up card-the river. After the river, there’s a final round of betting.
After all the rounds of betting, all the players who are still in the pot turn over their hole cards. The player with the best hand, composed of the cards in their hand and on the board, wins the money in the pot.
In limit games, the numbers refer to the size of the bets during the first 2 rounds and during the 2nd 2 rounds.
You’re playing in a $4/$8 limit holdem game. The blinds are $2 for the small blind and $4 for the large blind. After the hole cards and after the flop, the bets are made in $4 increments. After the turn and after the river, the bets are made in $8 increments.
If two or more players tie for the best hand you break ties using the following rules.
- When two or more players have the exact same five card hand they tie and split the pot. For example, two players each have a pair of sevens, a pair of twos, and an ace.
- If two or more players have the same best one card, two cards, three cards, or four cards hand, the winner is the player with the next highest card not being used for the one two, three, or four card hand. For example, if two players each have a pair of aces and the next highest card in one player’s hand is a jack and in the other player’s hand, it’s a seven, the player with the jack wins. This is called a kicker.
- When two players have a flush the player with the highest card in their flush is the winner. If they each have the same highest card the next highest card is compared, until one player has a higher card.
- If two players have a straight the player with the highest card in their straight wins.
- When two players each have a full house, the player with the higher three of a kind wins. If the three of a kind is the same in both hands the player with the best pair wins. For example, a hand with three queens and two sixes beats a hand with three tens and two aces.
For more information on betting strategies, you can refer to any of our in-depth beginner guides:
- Texas Holdem Basics
- Texas Holdem Games and Variations
- Texas Holdem Games
- Texas Holdem Video Games
- Texas Holdem Rules
- Texas Holdem Glossary
- Downloadable Texas Holdem Games
- No Download Texas Holdem Games
- Texas Holdem Live Play
- Texas Holdem Hands
- Texas Holdem Betting
- Texas Holdem Books
- How To Deal in Texas Holdem
- Chips, Equipment and Shuffling
- Texas Holdem Examples
- Texas Holdem for Dummies
- Texas Holdem History
- Texas Holdem Nicknames
- Texas Holdem Poker Tables
- Questions & Answers
- Texas Holdem Practice Exercises
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Texas holdem is rarely dealt with wild cards. (A wild card is a card that can be used to “stand in” for a card you need to make a better hand.) You’ll sometimes find wild cards in use during home poker games, but not in casino cardrooms. But most of the time, there are no wild cards in Texas holdem.
As a result, the standard rankings of poker hands apply. We’ve listed the Texas Holdem hands below from best to worst. The rankings are based on how unlikely it is to receive a particular hand:
A straight flush is a hand where all the cards are of the same suit and are in consecutive order. For example, a 10JQKA, all of spades, is a straight flush. (And in this example, it’s a royal flush, because it’s the highest possible straight flush you can get.) In the event of a tie, the straight flush with the highest card wins.
A 4 of a kind is a hand where 4 of the 5 cards are of the same ranking. An example of a hand with a 4 of a kind might have 2222A. That would be the 2 in every suit–clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades. In the event of a tie, the 4 of a kind with the highest hand ranking wins.
A full house is a hand that consists of 3 cards of one rank and 2 cards of another rank. An example of a full house might look like this: 555KK. In the event of a tie, the hand with the higher cards in the 3 cards is the winner.
A flush is a hand that consists of 5 cards of the same suit-clubs, diamonds, hearts, or spades. In the event of a tie, the flush with the highest card is the winner.
A straight is a hand where all 5 cards of consecutive ranks. A2345 is an example of a straight. In the event of a tie, the straight with the highest card is the winner.
A 3 of a kind is a hand where 3 of the cards are of the same rank, but the other 2 cards are of a different rank. In the event of a tie, the hand with the higher ranked cards wins. An example of a 3 of a kind would be KKK27.
2 pairs is a hand where you have 2 cards of one rank and 2 cards of another rank along with a final card of another rank. An example of 2 pairs might look like this: AAKK7.In the event of a tie, the hand with the highest pair wins.
1 pair is a hand where you 2 cards of one rank and 3 cards with different ranks. An example of a pair might look like this: JJ278. In the event of a tie, the higher ranked pair wins.
High card means a hand where none of the other hand rankings apply. If no one still in the hand can make a pair or better, the player with the highest card in his hand wins the pot.
There’s one more concept you need to understand about hand rankings-kickers. A kicker is a card that breaks a tie.
You have a pair of kings. Your opponent also has a pair of kings. Normally if both players had a pair, the higher-ranked pair wins, but in this case, there is no higher ranked pair. So the players compare the single cards in their hand to see which of those is higher. If you have an ace kicker and he has a queen kicker, you win.
We got into more detail about poker hand rankings on those specific pages of our site.
Texas Holdem Online
With the growth of the Internet, Texas holdem online has become a thing. Since this site is in English, we have a lot of readers from the United States, so our coverage of online Texas holdem is going to slant slightly toward the US market. But players all over the world play Texas holdem on the Internet.
The differences between the game as it’s played online and as it’s played in traditional land-based cardrooms are slight. Of course, one game is played on a computer, so you’re not face to face with the other players, but that difference is more minor than you might think. A lot of the differences have to do with practical matters like buying in and placing bets.
In a traditional cardroom, you exchange cash for chips, and you play poker with the clay chips at the table. In an online cardroom, you have to deposit money into an account with the cardroom first. Once you’ve done this, you can use that money to buy into the various games on the site.
Multiple deposit methods are available at online cardrooms, here we list a few:
Most people just use a credit card to fund their account, but you can also get money to an online poker site using a wire transfer or a service like Western Union or Moneygram. Some credit card issuers decline any transaction that’s flagged with an online gambling code as a matter of policy, especially if you’re from the United States, so other deposit methods become necessary.
Another option for making a deposit at an online poker room is to use an online wallet of some sort-preferably one that specializes in online gambling. In countries where online poker is legal and regulated, you can use the original online wallet-PayPal. But in countries like the United States, where poker is in a murky legal area, you might have to use an online wallet that specializes in such transactions. Even some of these wallets restrict transfers from U.S. players.
Another option for funding online gambling accounts that are growing in popularity is Bitcoin. If you’re not familiar with it, Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer financial instrument. You can consider it to be something like privately-issued digital money. To use Bitcoin for an online gambling transaction, you need to have some kind of Bitcoin wallet service.
Another difference between land-based and online Texas holdem is the availability of the games. Of course, traditional cardrooms, whether they’re hosted by a casino or whether they’re a free-standing cardroom, accept any players who walk in the door-provided they’re of age and can afford the buy-in.
But online cardrooms have restrictions related to your country of origin. In fact, most online cardrooms don’t accept players from the United States at all any more. A hand full of rooms still do, but most poker sites are worried about legal action. If you’re from the USA, you should consult our site for recommended places to play. In the absence of significant legal oversight, an online cardroom’s reputation is more important than ever.
How the game plays is subtly different online, too. For one thing, you’re not able to see your opponents at all. This eliminates some of the reading of other players that’s often a big piece of a professional’s strategy.
Other tells exist, though. Online players can analyze another player’s screen name, his behavior in the chat box, and his betting behavior in order to get at least a general idea of his opponents’ tendencies. Some data-mining software can be used to separate which players win consistently from those who lose consistently. Many of the more reputable cardrooms disallow the use of this kind of software as it’s contrary to the spirit of the game.
Another major difference is the rate at which you’re able to play. In a traditional cardroom, dealers are fast, but they’ll never be as fast as a computer. You’ll see at least twice as many hands per hour playing online.
Game variety is a big plus on the Internet side of things. In a casino cardroom with only a dozen or so tables, the games and limits available can be limited. But with a nearly infinite number of tables in a virtual setting, an online cardroom can offer an almost unlimited variety. The only real limitation is based on whether or not other players at the site want to play your game at your stakes.
Other differences exist, but those are the biggest.
When it comes to the user interface of an online poker site, we get picky. When you’re spending hours at a time doing something, it better be set up well and organized in a way that makes your life easier. The games need to be organized well, and the different stake levels should be easy to find. When you’re playing, it shouldn’t be a challenge to figure out how to raise, call, or fold. Cruddy user interfaces are not only annoying and not fun to use, but they can also set you up to make mistakes which can be very costly.
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Although Texas Holdem is a variation of poker itself, there are multiple variations of Texas Holdem that you will find at several different online casino sites. And different variations have different rules.
For example, some Texas Holdem variations require you to use certain betting formats. Others play with modifications to the draw, such as adding additional private cards for you to use.
Here are some of the more popular variations of Texas Holdem that you are likely to come across at an online casino:
With Limit Holdem, the bet sizes are pre-determined based on the rules of the game. Players agree to the bet size before entering the game, and then are limited to betting in increments of that number.
During No-Limit Holdem, bettors can bet or raise as high as their stack of chips will allow them. This is a variation where bettors will use the phrase: “I’m all in.”
In Pot-Limit Holdem, the size of bets is limited based on the size of the pot. Bettors can bet or raise up to the size of the pot, but cannot exceed it.
Omaha is also sometimes called “Omaha holdem”.
- Omaha 8 (aka Omaha hi-lo)
Both versions are played similarly to Texas holdem, with 2 major differences:
- Players get 4 hole cards instead of 2.
- Players must combine 2 cards from their hands and 3 cards from the board.
Omaha is played “high”, which means that the best possible poker hand wins the pot at the showdown. This might seem like the only way to play this game, but the reality becomes clear once you learn about Omaha 8.
Omaha Hi-Lo Holdem
Omaha Hi-Lo Holdem is played very similar to classic Holdem, only the payout goes to not only the highest-ranking hand, but also the lowest qualifying one as well.
Omaha 8 is often also called hi-lo or high-low. In this variation, everything works the same, but the pot is split between the highest hand at the showdown and the best qualifying low hand.
You have specific rules for how to qualify a low hand, too. For purposes of this game, the lowest possible hand is A2345. Any 5 card hand with a card higher than 8 doesn’t qualify. 45678 is the worst possible qualifying low hand. Your goal in this variation is to “scoop” the pot—you want to win the high hand, but you also want to win the low hand, so you get the entire pot.
In Pineapple Holdem, you are dealt 3 private cards instead of 2. However, you must discard one before the flop. This puts an emphasis on the community cards being placed face up.
All 3 games are played just like Texas holdem, but you get 3 hole cards instead of 2. The difference is that in regular pineapple, you have to discard one of those 3 cards before the flop. In Crazy Pineapple, you don’t have to discard one of your 3 hole cards until after the flop. And in Lazy Pineapple (which is also called Tahoe Pineapple), you don’t have to discard a hole card until all the cards have been dealt.
The general strategic rule as it relates to these cousins of Texas holdem is that with more cards, you need a stronger hand to compete. In other words, you will fold less often in Texas holdem than in Pineapple. And you’ll fold even more of the time in Omaha and Omaha/8.
3 Card Holdem
3 Card Holdem is similar to Pineapple Holdem, except you get to keep all 3 of your private cards. This variation is sometimes also referred to as Super Eight.
Double Flop Holdem
Double-Flop Holdem features 2 flops, 2 turns, and 2 rivers. Players end up with two separate hands, and the pot is split between the two winning hands. It is possible to have the two best hands in a game and win the entire pot.
This resembles Omaha. You get 4 hole cards. But you have to choose 2 of those cards to discard before the flop.
This is similar to Irish Poker—you get 4 hole cards and discard 2 before the flop. But in Irish Poker, you only have one more betting round—you flop all 5 community cards at once instead of having a separate flop, turn, and river.
In this game, a straight consists of 4 cards, not 5 cards, which makes it a lot easier to make a straight.
River of Blood
This is played just like regular Texas holdem, with one major exception. If the river is a red card, there’s another betting round and another river. This continues until there’s a black river card.
Two-Time Holdem gives you 4 private cards that you have to split into 2 separate hands. At the end of the rounds, you decide which hand to play.
Casino Holdem is played similarly to Texas Holdem, only you are playing against the house rather than other players. Your payouts are also determined by a specific paytable that is associated with the table you are playing at, meaning you can earn money through qualifying hands rather than just having the best hand.
Aviation holdem is a cross between Omaha and Pineapple. You start with four hole cards and discard one before the flop and another one after the flop. This form of holdem is rare and most players aren’t familiar with it. The odds of it passing Omaha in popularity aren’t good because it’s almost exactly like Omaha high only, but in Omaha you keep all four cards for the entire hand.
The value of winning hands at showdown is almost identical to Omaha high only, which means better than the average Texas holdem hand, but not outrageously better. Winning Texas holdem players and winning Omaha payers won’t have much trouble adjusting to Aviation holdem winning play.
Mini-Tex uses 2 hole cards and 3 community cards. Your goal is to make a better 3 card hand than the dealer. You use the same hand rankings as in 3 Card Holdem.
If the dealer qualifies, you get paid even money on all your bets if you win. On the other hand, if the dealer qualifies, you lose all your bets if you lose. And if you tie, all bets are treated as a push.
You start a game of Riverboat Holdem by placing an ante bet. Another bet is available but optional—it’s called the river bet.
You get 2 hole cards, and so does the dealer. At this point, you can fold and lose your ante bet (but not your river bet). You can also call, which requires you to place another bet the same size as the ante. You can also raise, which requires you to place another bet twice the size as the ante.
After the betting, the dealer deals a 3-card flop. He also flips over his hole cards. The dealer qualifies if he has a KJ or better. If the dealer doesn’t qualify, the ante bet is paid at even money, and the other bets are treated as a push.
If the dealer does qualify, the player wins even money on all bets if he has the better hand. If he doesn’t, then he loses all his bets.
The river bet is paid off based on a pay table. The better the player’s hand, the bigger the payout.
Texas Holdem Bonus
Texas Holdem Bonus is similar to traditional holdem, but you’re not able to place a bet after the river. The payoffs on all your bets are even money except for the ante, which only pays off if you have a straight or higher (or a flush or higher—rules vary based on where you play.)
If your hand ties with the dealer, all bets are treated as a push.
The bonus bet is treated separately from all of the other action. It pays off based on your 2 hole cards and the dealer’s 2 hole cards, based on the pay table posted at the casino.
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pachinko online casino uses 5 cards during the game, and it’s dealt from a 28-card deck. All of the cards lower than 8 are removed. (Aces count as high for this purpose.)
You have 3 bets available:
You start by placing an ante bet. You and the dealer then each get 2 hole cards, but one of the dealer’s hole cards is dealt face up. There’s also a 3 card flop dealt face down.
Once you’ve looked at your hole cards, you have to fold or raise. If you raise, you have to place another bet the same size as your ante. Once you’ve made your decision, the dealer flips over his face-down hole card and the flop.
The dealer qualifies with a pair of 9s or better. If he doesn’t qualify, your ante pays off even money, but the raise is a push.
If the dealer qualifies, you win even money if you have the better hand. If the dealer has a better hand, you lose. If you tie, the bets are considered a push.
If you didn’t fold and have a full house or better, you get an ante bonus based on the pay table posted by the casino. You win this bonus even if the dealer has a better hand. The flop bet also pays off according to the pay table, even if the dealer has your hand beat.
pachinko gambling resembles some of the other house-banked holdem variations we’ve discussed, but the difference is that you only get to make a single raise during a hand. The later you make this raise, the lower it has to be.
You start by placing an ante and a blind bet, both of which have to be the same size. You can also place a trips bet if you want to.
You get 2 cards, and so does the dealer. You can then check or place a play bet. The play bet has to be either 3 or 4 times the size of the ante.
Then the dealer deals a 3 card flop. If you checked before, you now have the option of making a play bet, but it can only be twice the size of the ante.
Then the dealer deals a turn and a river card. If you checked on the previous 2 betting rounds, you can make a play bet now the same size as your ante. If the dealer has at least a pair, he opens.
You’re scored according to how your hand compares to the dealer’s hand, and the bets pay off according to the pay table. You can win as much as 500 to 1 if you have a royal flush, but you might only win as little as even money (if you have a straight).
The important thing to remember in this game is that once you’ve made a raise, you can’t raise on subsequent betting rounds. Also, the size of your possible bets goes down if you wait.
pachinko gambling is also available in a variant called “Heads-Up Holdem”. In this version, you can only raise 3x your ante bet before the flop. The other difference is the bad beat bonus, which pays off if you lose with a straight or better.
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Texas holdem is played in ring or cash game format and tournament formats. A ring game doesn’t have a set procedure for ending and players come and go. You can join a ring game at any time as long as there’s an open seat and you have the money. You can also leave at any time by picking up your chips and leaving the table.
Tournaments have a set starting point and play down until only one player remains. You can find numerous tournament variations and they can all be played in any of the limit formats listed in the last section. But most Texas holdem tournaments boil down to either single table or multi table events.
- Single Table Tournaments
- A single table tournament, usually called a sit and go, has 10, nine, or six players most of the time with the top three or two players finishing in the money.
- Multi Table Tournaments
- A multi table tournament can have up to thousands of entrants and the pay outs are based on the tournament structure.
- Freeroll Tournaments
- Freerolls are poker tournaments that don’t cost anything to enter but provide an opportunity to win real money for the top finishers. Freeroll Texas holdem tournaments are set up and run just like most multi table tournaments with a structure and prize pool, with the only difference being players don’t pay an entry fee.
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We left out one big difference between Internet Texas holdem and traditional brick and mortar games. In a land-based casino, you’d never find a poker game being played without real money on the line. The house makes its money by taking a percentage of each pot (the “rake”), so they have no incentive to offer free games.
But in the world of online Texas holdem, free games are not only common-they’re ubiquitous. These are great opportunities for players to learn how the game works, especially in terms of the control interface. All online cardrooms have subtly different buttons for calling, checking, folding, and raising. It’s a good idea to spend some time at the free tables getting used to the interface. After all, it would be a shame to accidentally raise if you have a 27offsuit preflop (which is the worst possible preflop hand). It would be an even greater shame to accidentally fold if you have AA preflop (which is the best possible preflop hand.)
Some sites and apps specialize in offering nothing but free Texas holdem games, but for the most part, the free games are marketing tools for the real money versions of each site. In some cases, the free-only sites work on a points system, and sometimes these points can be traded for prizes.
If you want to play Texas Holdem for free, check out our Texas Holdem game page:
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Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand over the last decade or two, you probably already know that poker-even Texas holdem-is a game of skill. Lucky might play a larger factor in Texas holdem than in other games, but the skill element is undeniable. This means that smart players want to learn something about Texas holdem strategy.
We offer an entire section of articles about Texas holdem strategy that you should visit, but we introduce a few key concepts below:
- Texas Holdem Advice
- Texas Holdem Low Limit Play
- Texas Holdem Medium Limit Play
- Texas Holdem High Limit Play
- Texas Holdem Blind Play
- Texas Holdem Playing Styles
- Texas Holdem Micro Limits
- Luck VS Variance in Texas Holdem
- Texas Holdem Odds
- Texas Holdem Pre Flop Play
- Texas Holdem Post Flop Play
- Texas Holdem Tournaments
- Texas Holdem Sit N Gos
- Texas Holdem Psychology
- Texas Holdem Tilt
- Texas Holdem Tells
- Texas Holdem Starting Hands
- Expected Value in Texas Holdem
- Bluffing in Texas Holdem
- Texas Holdem Events
- Texas Holdem Calculators
- Texas Holdem Math
Texas holdem is often described as taking 5 minutes to learn and a lifetime to master. This is even truer today with strategy being so readily available, giving more players the opportunity to become experts.
Nevertheless, everybody has to start somewhere with the game, and that somewhere should not immediately be real money poker tables .
If you’re new to the game or just looking for a solid strategy base, here are the basic concepts that you should know.
One of the most overlooked concepts among poker beginners is table position, meaning you act after opponents.
Position is measured by where you sit in relation to the big blind. The dealer button is the latest position, while the small blind is the earliest.
The reason why position is so important is because it allows you to gain more information based on your opponents’ decisions. Additionally, having position on most or all of your opponents helps you control the pot size and better read your opponents’ hand strength.
On a 9 seat table, here’s how table position looks:
Small blind, big blind, seat to the big blind’s left. You generally want to play strong hands from these spots because you don’t have as much information.
The next three seats. Middle position gives you an idea of what a few players are doing. But you still want to be cautious about what hands you play in this area.
Dealer button, best, and the two seats to its right. Late position gives you a good opportunity to steal blinds, small pots, and judge opponents’ hand strength on later streets.
While it’s entirely possible to win from any position on the table, the majority of your Texas holdem winnings will come from late position, while most losses will come from early position.
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The single biggest Texas holdem mistake bar none is playing too many hands.
Many new players think that they can play a wide range of hands on speculation. But the truth is that most of the 169 possible starting hands are complete garbage.
Before we continue, here’s a look at the top 10 starting Texas holdem hands:
These are premium hands that are playable in many situations, regardless of your table position.
As you can see, popular hands like A Q, K J, and 9 9 are not on this list. Yet many players treat these cards like they’re premium hands, playing them in any situation.
The majority of beginners also have trouble understanding how their hand strength relates to position.
If you have QQ through A A, table position won’t be a factor because these are premium hands. But when you play hands like K J, Q J, 8 8, and A T from early position, you can be put into a difficult situation if somebody raises.
Another mistake that players make is overvaluing speculative hands like suited connectors, or consecutive cards of the same suit, i.e. 6d 7d. While there are certainly times when these hands are valuable, you’ll be better off folding these cards the vast majority of the time.
In fact, you should be folding 80 to 85% of your hands until you develop a better understanding of poker. As you gain more experience, you’ll develop a better idea of when to play certain hands based on opponents, table position, and previous bets.
Your approach to the game can be looked at in a couple of different ways. One of those looks at how often you decide to play in a hand-this is a measure of how tight or loose you are. The other looks at how often you decide to bet and raise as opposed to calling and checking-this is a measure of how passive or aggressive you are.
In fact, you can categorize most players into one of 4 categories:
- Tight Aggressive
- Tight Passive
- Loose Aggressive
- Loose Passive
A tight player is a player who doesn’t play many hands. He folds most hands and only stays in a hand if his cards are good enough to have a better than average chance of winning.
A loose player is the opposite. He plays more hands than average, hoping to improve his holdings during the later rounds of betting.
Of the two approaches, tight is usually better, especially for beginners. You can remember a simple rhyme that makes a nice mantra to remember how you should play:
“Tight is right”.
An aggressive player is a player who tends to bet or raise. He rarely checks or calls, preferring to put more into the pot almost every time he acts. Betting and raising have advantages over checking and calling, because when you bet and raise, you create a situation where your opponent or opponents might fold. If you check or call, you’ve created no incentive for them to not stay in the hand and possibly draw out on you.
A passive player, on the other hand, is more likely to just check or call when it’s his turn to act. This eliminates the possibility of running the other players out of the hand and winning a hand without a showdown.
Most experts agree that a tight aggressive approach is one of the best Texas Holdem strategies. You don’t play a lot of hands, so when you do get into a hand, you have a better than average chance of winning the pot at a showdown. Other players will also notice that you’re not playing a lot of hands, so they’ll be more likely to respect your bets and raises.
Also, when you do get into a hand, you’re doing 2 things by being aggressive. You’re getting more money into the pot with better than average hands, which increases the amount of money you’re likely to win at a showdown. But you’re also increasing the percentage chance you have of winning. If you’ve increased the chance of everyone else folding by a few percentage points, you’ve made a big change to the expected value of your bets.
A loose aggressive player is often called a maniac. This can be an effective approach if you have a certain degree of skill, because a maniac will often pick up a lot of small pots just by bullying the other players out of hands. Some pros use this style consistently to good effect.
A tight passive player is often called a rock. This player might break even but is more likely to lose. He lets too many opponents play speculative hands without paying for them, and so they often draw out on him. This is a better approach than being a loose passive player, but not by much.
A loose passive player is often called a calling station. This is the player at the table who keeps calling bets to keep the raisers honest. He rarely makes any raises, but he’ll chase a hand down to the river more often than not. This is the best kind of opponent to face, but it’s also the worst kind of player to be.
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We have an entire page about bluffing where we go into detail, but here’s what you need to know about bluffing and semi-bluffing in Texas holdem, in broad strokes:
Bluffing is when you bet or raise with a hand that’s probably not the best hand in play. Your goal when bluffing is to get your oppo13.25nent or opponents to fold so that you can win the pot without a showdown.
A semi-bluff is similar to a bluff, but it’s done with a drawing hand. You don’t have the best hand, but you still have an opportunity to draw to a better hand during the later parts of the deal.
Bluffing isn’t something you should never do, but it’s also not something you should always do. If you never bluff, your opponents will always fold when you bet and raise, which means you won’t get any action and won’t as much money as you could. If you always bluff, you’ll get called down a lot and lose a lot of money.
In fact, one of the concepts that most people don’t think about when it comes to bluffing relates to position and the number of opponents you’re facing. You should only bluff from late position, which means you’re acting AFTER most of the other players at the table. If you’re the first player to act, and all 7 of the players behind you call your bet, you’re in trouble.
Also, you should probably only bluff when you’re facing one or two opponents. The more opponents you’re trying to bluff, the harder it is to succeed.
You’re trying to bluff 4 players. Each of them has a 50% chance of folding in the face of a raise.
But what you’re concerned about is whether or not ALL of them will fold. To determine the probability of that, you multiply the odds that each of them will fold:
50% X 50% X 50% X 50% = 6.25%
Unless the size of your bet is very small, a 6.25% chance of winning doesn’t warrant bluffing.
Semi-bluffing often makes more sense, because you now have the opportunity to win the pot in two ways. If everyone folds, you win the pot by default without even having to show your hand.
But if you draw out on your opponent, you can win at the showdown.
You have 4 cards to a flush-2 in your hand 2 on the flop. You THINK your opponent has a high pair. Right now, you have the worse of the 2 hands.
But you raise.
He might fold, thinking you have 3 of a kind or 2 pairs.
But even if he calls, you have a roughly 1in 3 shot at drawing to a flush on the turn or the river. If you hit your flush, you’ll win, unless he draws to a better hand, too.
Bluffing is an overrated part of the game, mostly because of television and movies.
When you act in a game of Texas holdem is incredibly important. Poker strategy writers refer to this as “position”. Based on where you are in relation to the blinds, you get to see what the players who act before you do.
The best position at the table is the dealer button. You get to see how the other players play the hand before you have to play. The blinds and under the gun are the worst positions. Play fewer hands from the poor positions and more hands from the best positions.
You have a pair of 7s. You’re playing with some reasonably tight opponents. You’re the first person to act, so you call the blind. The player behind you raises. The player behind him re-raises. And the player behind him re-raises the first two players.
When it gets back to you, the choice is clear-you have to fold. The odds of one of those 3 players having you completely dominated are excellent.
You have a pair of 7s. You’re the last person to act. Three players ahead of you are “jamming the pot”, i.e. betting and raising aggressively. When it’s your turn, you fold-but you saved a bet, because you didn’t enter the pot in the first place.
Here’s the rule of thumb about position:
You need a much stronger hand to enter a pot in early position than you do in late position.
The actions of the other players matter, but they matter less than being able to see what they’re going to do.
More money is lost at the holdem tables because of players’ refusal to take position into account than for any other reason.
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The 2 cards in your hand are your hole cards. These are also called your starting hand. Smart players have certain requirements that their starting hands have to fulfill before they’re willing to play them. The best players’ starting hand requirements are integrated with position.
Pairs are always legitimate starting hands, but bigger pairs are better. If you’re in early position, you might not even play small pairs at all. It depends on the texture of the table and your tolerance for risk.
Big suited cards are also legitimate starting hands a lot of the time. They give you the opportunity to make a flush and also to make big pairs on the flop or on later rounds. These hands are better if they include an ace or a kind.
Suited connectors are cards with the potential to make either a flush or a straight. The 7 and the 8 of hearts is an example of a starting hand that would be considered suited connectors. As a rule of thumb, the higher the ranks of the cards and the fewer gaps between them, the better.
The earlier your position, the stronger your hand needs to be in order to play it. Big pairs, especially aces and kings, are almost always playable from any position. AK suited is also almost always playable, and AQ suited is often playable.
If you’re playing something from the more speculative groups, you really need to hope to improve your hand on the flop in order to stay in the hand. For example, if you have a pair of 2s as your starting hand, you really need to hit another 2 on the flop to stay in the hand.
You should probably only be playing the best 15% to 20% of the hands preflop, which means you’ll be folding pretty often. And even on the hands in which you stay, you’ll probably fold 50% of those when you see the flop. This line of thinking is called “fit or fold”.
A lot of Texas holdem strategies involve just being patient and waiting to get the cards. Then you bet the cards.
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Have you ever heard players talking about how they have to defend their blinds? Or have you ever felt a late position player was raising too much trying to steal your blinds? If so, what did you do?
Most players are convinced their opponents in late position are always trying to steal their blinds. And some players do raise too often in an attempt to steal blinds.
The reaction from most players is to start firing a raise back at the late position aggressor. While this is a possible way to challenge someone stealing your blinds, what do you do if they re-raise?
It can be irritating to have a player constantly raise when you’re in the blinds, but you need to forget about the concept of protecting your blinds. You need to wait for a good hand and raise with it and fold all of your poor and medium strength hands to a raise.
What many players forget is that sometimes the late position aggressor has a real hand and she gets to play the hand with position against you.
Don’t forget that the blinds aren’t yours once you put them in the pot.
Texas Holdem Tilt
Though it’s rarely talked about, tilt is one of the most costly mistakes Texas holdem poker players make at the table .
The good news is you can learn how to recognize it in your play and in your opponent’s play. Once you can see it starting you can quickly take steps to keep it from costing you money.
You can even learn how to make money from tilt. Once you see another player starting to tilt you can use it against them.
Also, you can learn how tilt can affect your own decisions and how you can avoid it, and even learn from it.
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Before you can deal with a problem like tilt you have to be able to recognize it in your play. Sometimes tilt happens instantly but many players are able to feel it coming on over time.
Tilt almost always starts with a bad beat or poor run of short term variance, or luck, at the table.
You might miss your flush draw three times in a row or your opponent might hit their two out draw or it could be as simple as the drunken loudmouth at the table has finally crossed the line and you’re starting to fantasize about wrapping your hands around his neck.
Try to think about the last time you started getting angry playing holdem. How did you feel? What did it feel like?
The odds are this is how you’ll be feeling when you’re in danger of going on tilt.
In order to recognize when you’re in danger of tilt you need to recognize the different situations that may interfere with your logical poker play and quickly recognize the feelings of anger or frustration that can turn into poor decision making.
The best way to avoid tilt in your play is by understanding the possibilities and odds and how the mathematical concepts of Texas holdem work.
If you understand how often your good hands hold up, how often they get drawn out on, how often you hit your draws, and the overall odds of certain things happening you won’t get as upset when things don’t go your way.
After the turn you have a dominant hand of a full house against your opponent’s set and you’re all in. She has to hit four of a kind to beat you on the river, giving her exactly one out. This seems like a sure thing, but the truth is that your opponent will hit the card she needs for quads exactly 1 out of every 44 times. She has one card that can help her and between your hand, her hand, and the board you’ve seen 8 cards, leaving 44 unseen cards.
I know that sometimes the card she needs has been folded or burned, but it doesn’t change the odds.
When you lose in this situation it seems like a bad beat and it’s enough to send many players on tilt, but the truth is that you can’t change the math. 43 out of 44 times that you’re in this situation you win and one time you don’t. You should rejoice to be in this situation and strive to get into it as often as possible.
It’s hard to be happy when your opponent hits a 1 in 44 shot, but the truth is you’ve simply got a bad result out of the way.
Another thing you can do is try to visualize the entire hand before it happens and every way it can play out. Many top players do this for every hand they play and it’s a great way to improve your poker game. If you see a possibility for things to go against you before it happens, you can mentally prepare for it and lessen the sting.
Once you recognize that you may be going on tilt, immediately stop playing. Simply walk away from the table if you’re playing live or walk away from the computer or mobile device if you’re playing online.
Texas Holdem Tips
We also have an entire page of Texas holdem tips for you to peruse, but here are some quick, broad-overview type tips for you to think about:
Bet or raise instead of checking and calling.
Passive play is losing play in Texas holdem. The easiest way to avoid being passive is to bet and raise instead of checking and calling. We know successful players who never cold call at all-they believe they should either raise or fold.
Be selective about the hands you play.
This is arguably less important than being aggressive, but for new players, it’s pretty important. Some loose players do well if they’re really aggressive, especially if they’re playing against some passive players. But the most consistently profitable strategy for newer players is to be tight and aggressive.
Pay attention to position.
Most Texas holdem players don’t pay nearly enough to their position when deciding which hands to play and how to play them. The rule of thumb is simple enough-have more stringent requirements from your hands in early position.
Bluff carefully if at all.
We’re big fans of the semi-bluff. If you are going to bluff, do it when you’re in late position and when you only have one or two opponents. The odds of successfully bluffing 3+ players go way down, unless you’re playing with extremely tight players.
If you’re going to play online, try the free games first.
That way you’ll learn how the controls work and avoid any potentially costly mistakes based on silly user-errors that could have easily been prevented.
Your bankroll isn’t directly related to your results at the tables, but it can have direct consequences on your mental state while playing. When you start worrying about your bankroll or money it impacts your game in a negative way.
The general idea is you should have a large enough bankroll that you can play at a level and limit where you’re comfortable.
For more tips, be sure to check out our Texas Holdem Tips page:
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One of the best ways to see if you’re as much of an expert at Texas holdem as you think is to take quizzes. Even if you disagree with the answers and approaches we have to the game, you’ll benefit from thinking critically about the game.
When you’re reading through these Texas holdem quizzes on our site, don’t just read them. Take the time to write your answers to the question. Include, in writing, the reasoning behind your answers.
Start with the quiz that applies to the type of game you play most often, cash games or tournaments. The other basic quizzes are important to read through early, too-position and starting hands are critical skills to master in the beginning stages.
We also have quizzes about more intermediate and advanced topics, too. Beginners probably shouldn’t worry much about tells or bluffing. Everyone needs to know how to play a hand on the river, though, but you still need to understand starting hand requirements first.
Here are some key things to look for in Texas Holdem sites:
Player volume is one of the most overlooked factors when it comes to online casino sites . However, it is one of the most important. After all, what is the point in using a casino site if there are no other players playing Texas Holdem at the same time you are. If there are no players, then it is unlikely that you are going to make any money playing at the site.
Player volume is also important because of the effect it has on cash games.
After all, if there are very few people playing Texas Holdem at the online casino you have chosen, this means that there is likely to be a lot of waiting around and time spent idly between hands.
If this happens too often, you could potentially miss out on making some cash because your time was wasted waiting for a hand to come along. Not to mention that waiting for hands to start is boring, and can take you out of the mindset you need in order to be successful when playing.
The payout tables used by online casinos play a big part in how much profit you can expect to make from online Texas Holdem games. Every online casino features different payout tables, and the ones that you should be looking to play on are those that offer the most potential profit per hand or hour played.
The deposit and withdrawal options available for Texas Holdem poker players at online casinos can vary a lot depending on which casino site you choose to use. Therefore, it is important to find a website that provides easy access to a wide range of banking methods for deposits and withdrawals , so that you have plenty of options when it comes to depositing to your betting account and ensuring you have quick access to your winnings as well.
In addition, having multiple deposit options allows you to switch between payment methods as you see fit. This can help you split up your budget to ensure you do not overspend. Popular deposit options for online casino sites include:
- Credit cards
- Bank wire transfers
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One of the biggest advantages you have when it comes to playing online Texas Holdem is that you will never be faced with a lack of tournaments and other promotional events. This will often mean that if there are no cash games running at the time, you still have access to plenty of Texas Holdem action that will help improve your bankroll.
Of course, one thing that makes these special promotions such an advantage is because they can offer big overlays which means even more free money for anyone lucky enough to take part in the event. For example, a 100% cashback bonus on losses in a freeroll is an example of an overlay.
Deposit bonuses are a great way to kickstart your bankroll when you are creating a new account with a Texas Holdem site. These bonuses will usually offer players free cash for signing up and making an initial deposit to their account.
As such, this will often mean that the casino matches your initial deposit with extra funds to ensure you can play in plenty of Texas Holdem tournaments and other events. The exact type of bonus you receive will depend on the website itself, but there are usually welcome bonuses and ongoing monthly offers that come with playing online.
Just be sure to read through the playthrough requirements when accepting a bonus. This will detail the amount of money you need to bet in order to make a withdrawal. Without playthrough requirements, many bettors would take the free money and run, putting the online casino out of business.
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When it comes to finding a site where you can play Texas Holdem for real money, it is important to find one that works well on mobile devices such as phones or tablets. This is because most people want access to everything they enjoy about an online casino no matter where they go.
It is common for casino sites to now offer mobile poker apps However, they all perform differently. While some are seamless and almost run better than the desktop versions, others are not formatted well and tend to load a bit slowly.
The best Texas Holdem casinos will be compatible with Android and iOS devices so that everyone can enjoy the game regardless of what they carry around in their pockets.
If you ever get stuck or experience any other problems while playing Texas Holdem online, then customer support could be vital in helping you get back up and running as quickly as possible.
Customer service is especially important online as it is not always easy for players to visit a Texas Holdem casino in person if they have a problem with a transaction or payment method on their account.
Therefore, it is worth finding websites that offer customer service over the phone, email, and/or live chat so that there are no delays when you need assistance from staff members.
In addition, customer service should be available around the clock so that no matter what time of day or night you play at an online casino, someone will be there to assist you with any issues that arise.
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Unfortunately, the world today has many hidden dangers, especially when it comes to the internet and the ability to spend your money online. And while gambling online has many safe options, there are some fraudulent sites you need to look out for.
There are a number of fake online casino sites out there that look legit but are in fact scams designed with the intention of stealing your funds. Luckily, there are many warning signs that may tell you if an online casino site is not legitimate. Some of these warning signs include:
- No customer reviews
- No customer testimonials
- No gambling license displayed
- Ridiculous bonuses being offered
- No customer service
Always do your research before choosing an online casino site to gamble with. To get off to get a good start, take a look at our blacklisted gambling sites . We made this list so that you have a running list of casinos that you know should avoid.
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If you have never played poker online before, then you may be wondering how to get started. Luckily, this is a quick and easy process so long as you are of legal age and in a location that allows gambling online.
Signing up to play Texas Holdem can be broken down into a few simple steps:
- Choose a real money Texas Holdem site – This is the most important part of the process. Choose your Texas Holdem site carefully! Look at their bonuses, banking, game selection, and reputation.
- Create an account – To create an account, you’ll need to provide some information like your name, address, email, phone number, and birthday.
- Choose a banking option – Make a deposit with one of the casino’s supported banking methods. Make sure the payment method is suited for both deposits and withdrawals! This is the point where you can also choose to claim a bonus.
- Validate Your Account – To verify your account, you’ll need to provide some actual documentation, like a picture of your ID and a medical or utility bill that clearly shows your current address.
- Join a table – Once all your information has been confirmed and you’ve funded your account, you can finally start playing Texas Holdem!
This process might seem long and tedious, but it can reasonably be completed within a few minutes. The longest part of the sign-up process is having the online casino verify your ID and proof of address. Depending on the casino, it could take up to a few days, or they could get back to you within a few hours. Just be prepared, because you won’t be able to withdraw funds until this verification process has been completed.
Texas Hold’em FAQ
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In order to win, you must have the best hand at the table when all of the betting is complete. If there is a tie, the pot is split evenly amongst the players who have tied. The best hand in the game is a straight flush.
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Pot odds are simply the ratio of the size of the pot to the amount of money you must put in to call. For example, if the pot is $10 and you must put in $1 to call, your pot odds are 10:1.
Implied odds are a bit more complicated. They take into account the fact that you may improve your hand after you make your bet. For example, if you are holding a flush draw (meaning you have four cards of the same suit and need one more to make a flush), your implied odds are 4:1, because there is a very good chance that you will hit your flush on the next card.
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The best way to play Texas Hold’em is to carefully consider your options and make wise decisions. You should always try to put yourself in a position to win the pot, but you should also be aware of the risks involved. More seriously, though, we think it’s a good idea to play Texas Hold’em for free until you have a good grasp of the mechanics and the pace of the game. Then, you can move onto playing with real money.
Some common mistakes people make in Texas Hold’em include:
- Not paying attention to the other players at the table
- Failing to consider pot odds and implied odds
- Betting too much on a hand that is not likely to win
- Folding too often
- Playing too many hands
- Chasing after draws that are unlikely to hit
Texas holdem is a great game, and we’re really proud of the resources we’ve included in this section. Our goal with this page and with all the pages we link to, is to provide the most comprehensive guide to the game that you’ll find.
This is a long page and covers a lot of information, but much of it is aimed at beginners. The other pages in this section are of a wider variety-some are appropriate for beginners, but other pages and concepts are probably more suited for intermediate or advanced players. Hopefully this guide has helped you learn how to play Texas Holdem poker, or at least sparked your interest to learn more!