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StrategyPoker Basics

The rules of Texas Hold'em


In this article you will learn

  • The rules of Texas Hold’em
  • What community cards are
  • How the betting rounds work

Welcome to PokerStrategy.com's strategy section. In the next few minutes you will learn how to play poker with a winning style. Our authors have prepared articles and video presentations which will not only teach you how to play Texas Hold'em, but will enable you to use the correct game strategies to play and win on the tables.

Read all the articles

In the column on the right you find an overview of all the articles for different gametypes and other background information.

Check out the overview of our Texas Hold'em strategy.

The game of Texas Hold’em is actually very easy to understand. Each player is dealt two face-down poker cards, the so called hole cards. After this a total of five cards are dealt face-up on the table; first three cards, then one more and finally a last one. These are called community cards, because everyone can use them in conjunction with their own two cards to form a hand. In between the dealing of these cards, there are four rounds of betting in which you can either bet chips, or fold your hand.

The first round of betting is called the Pre-flop, which is explained below. This is the round in which you receive your 2 cards.
Video: The Rules of Texas Hold'em
Watch Video

Watch this lesson in video format by clicking on the left image.

You should still read the article to ensure that you have completely understood the strategy. Your bankroll will be grateful.

Pre-flop - The cards are dealt


Before the cards are dealt, two players must post a blind bet. These bets are called blinds, because they are posted by players who haven't seen their cards yet. There is one small bet, the small blind, and one big bet, the big blind.  The big blind is usually double the small blind.

These bets aren't posted by just anyone, but always by the two players sitting to the left of the dealer. Since the dealer position moves around the table in a clockwise fashion, so does the responsibility of posting the blinds. In order to recognize the current dealer, a special chip is placed in front of the current dealer. This chip is called the button, or dealer button.

Now each player is dealt two cards and the first round of betting begins. Do you have strong enough cards to invest chips or money, or should you throw away your cards? How the betting works is explained in the next section.

What do you do in a betting round?


If you don't want to continue in the hand, you can throw your cards away and "leave" the current round.


When no-one before you has bet anything, you can do so yourself. You would say, for example: "I bet 10 chips" and place your chips in the pot, so that anyone who wants to continue playing must match your bet. If they don't, because it is too expensive or they don’t have a good hand, they can fold.

Betting all of one's chips is called going all-in. Once you are all-in, you can't bet anything more, but also cannot be forced to fold anymore. Indeed, when you are all-in, you will automatically be in the hand until its end, giving you the possibility to win by showing the best cards.


You can also raise a bet; for example, raise an opponent's bet of 10 chips to 20 chips. By doing this you are making the bet more expensive to call for anyone who wants to play on. If they don't want to pay extra, they have to fold.


If someone before you has bet, you have the possibility to call this bet. For this you just pay whatever the price of the bet was. If an opponent bets 10 chips, you would have to call 10 chips to stay in the hand.


If no-one has bet yet, then you can check. This means that you don't place any bets and let the next player act. It is like saying "I'll wait and see what happens".


To keep betting rounds organised, there are a few rules to know whose turn it is. Basically, the action goes round the table clockwise. When one player has acted, the player to his left is next to act.

In the first round of betting the player to the left of the Big Blind is first to act. From the second round on, it is always the first player to the left of the Button.

Once everyone has acted, all the bets are collected and placed in the middle of the table. This is called the pot. Whoever wins the hand, wins the pot.

The next step is to learn about the community cards.

Flop, Turn, River - The five community cards


After the initial round of betting the dealer deals three cards face up on the table, so that everyone can see them. They do not belong to one particular player - indeed everyone can use them to create their 5-card poker hand. This is why they are called community cards.


Now begins the second round of betting, during which you can bet additional chips on your hand. At the end of the round, the bets are collected as usual and put into the pot.


Next, a fourth community card, the turn, is dealt on the table. It is also used in combination with the other cards to form your poker hand.

The players who are still in the hand enter into a third round of betting, at the end of which the bets are collected and placed in the pot. Once the betting is completed, the river card is dealt.


The river is the fifth and final community card to be dealt. Just like the other cards, it can also be used in combination with each player’s hole cards to form the respective player's hand.

In the ensuing fourth round of betting you can bet once more. After this round of betting, the players who are still in the hand show their cards. This is called the showdown, and is explained in detail in the next section.

The showdown - Do you have the best hand?

At the showdown all the players who are still in the hand reveal their cards to find out who has the best hand and so wins the pot. This raises the question: what poker hands are there and how are they ranked?


A poker hand always consists of five cards. Not four, not seven, but exactly five. You construct your hand from your two hole cards which were dealt to you and the community cards. You won't always need both of your hole cards to form your poker hand, though. Indeed, you can use four of the community cards, or even all five, it doesn't matter. The only requirement is that your hand consists of five cards.

There are a number of different combinations that can form a hand in poker. For example if you have five clubs, then you have a flush. All the possible hands are explained on the following table.

The poker hands

Royal Flush

The strongest poker hand is the royal flush. It consists of Ten, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace, all of the same suit, e.g. spades.

Straight Flush

The second strongest hand in poker is the straight flush. It is composed of five consecutive cards of the same suit. If two players have a straight flush, the one with the highest cards wins.


A four-of-a-kind is four cards of the same rank, e.g. four Kings. If two players have four-of-a-kind, then the one with the highest four-of-a-kind wins. If they have the same (if four-of-a-kind is on the board), then the player with the highest fifth card wins, since a poker hand is always composed of five cards.

Full House

A full house is a combination of a three-of-a-kind and a pair. If two players have a full house, then the one with the highest three-of-a-kind wins. If they have the same one, then the pair counts.


Five cards of the same suit make a flush. If two players have a flush, then the one with the highest cards wins.


Five consecutive cards are called a straight. If two players have a straight, the one with the highest cards wins.


A three-of-a-kind is composed of three cards of the same rank. If two players have the same three-of-a-kind, then the other cards, or both cards, determine the winner, since a poker hand is a always composed of five cards.   


Two-pair hands are, of course, composed of two pairs. If two players have two-pair, the rank of the higher pair determines the winner. If they have the same higher pair, then the lower one counts. If that is also the same, then the fifth card counts.


A pair is composed of two cards of the same rank. Since a poker hand is always composed of five cards, the other three cards are so-called "kickers". In case two players have the same pair, then the one with the highest kicker wins.

High card

If you don't even have a pair, then you look at the strength of your cards. If there are two players at showdown who don't have a pair or better, then the one with the highest cards wins.

Further reading: For a more detailed explanation check out the poker hands ranking overview.


Now you know the rules of Texas Hold'em. You know that in a game there are four rounds of betting, one before the flop, one on the flop, one on the turn, and the last one after the river card is dealt. The flop, turn, and river are the betting rounds in which the so-called community cards are dealt face-up on the table.

While it appears to be a fairly simple game, appearances can be deceiving. Texas Hold'em can present some very complex situations, which is why inexperienced players often lose very quickly. It is a game that one can quickly learn, but which takes a lot of time to truly master. In the following chapters, you will learn the fundamental strategies for No-Limit Hold’em which will allow you to get started with your poker career.

Please choose the next article

Now that you know how to play Texas Hold'em, you can proceed with the specific strategy for your preferred game type.

Check out the overview of our Texas Hold'em strategy.


Comments (163)

#1 khopps, 24 Mar 08 19:33

good job

#2 alex132008, 11 Apr 08 20:44


#3 alex132008, 11 Apr 08 20:45

good job

#4 Brodie, 13 Apr 08 16:36


#5 Alexanyar, 13 Apr 08 19:16

good job

#6 MrPitbull, 15 Apr 08 05:34


#7 valerios, 16 Apr 08 13:21


#8 bangaaa, 16 Apr 08 14:16

good un

#9 reddogoo69, 17 Apr 08 01:58


#10 MrDannyboy80, 17 Apr 08 11:47

Nice ^^

#11 bajsa2008, 17 Apr 08 13:30


#12 facetheace08, 17 Apr 08 18:38


#13 calmhouse, 18 Apr 08 15:49


#14 xxxsunt, 18 Apr 08 20:02


#15 0rtzan, 18 Apr 08 20:50


#16 nekaf, 19 Apr 08 16:05

nice 10x you

#17 chaddh01, 20 Apr 08 16:47


#18 DiMagico, 21 Apr 08 13:13


#19 johnnym85, 21 Apr 08 18:57


#20 tekamine, 22 Apr 08 00:57

good good

#21 cdm73, 23 Apr 08 14:06

nice work

#22 LooKA, 23 Apr 08 17:31


#23 aftizzle, 24 Apr 08 12:12


#24 bloodster, 26 Apr 08 08:18


#25 make2loose, 26 Apr 08 09:04


#26 krackers, 27 Apr 08 04:59


#27 bigbro69, 28 Apr 08 07:20

I get it!

#28 Ialreadyknowty, 28 Apr 08 14:34


#29 MrAwwad, 28 Apr 08 15:59


#30 tzar23, 28 Apr 08 18:42


#31 Scorpion79, 29 Apr 08 00:50


#32 scriptfu, 29 Apr 08 18:15

sooo.... when do you go fish?

#33 QueenDanda, 30 Apr 08 13:52


#34 eusunteu, 30 Apr 08 17:03


#35 Faqueme, 01 May 08 17:05


#36 spt1960, 02 May 08 01:45


#37 orkyElisey, 02 May 08 08:28

thx you for illustrated pictures and for examples now i guess everything and i am ready for next step.

#38 chrisc1986, 02 May 08 23:25

helpful stuff!

#39 sh4rk28, 04 May 08 12:42


#40 RBIpoker, 06 May 08 03:46

This is taught on TV, but is the foundation for learning Texas Holdem.

#41 birddog1970lj, 06 May 08 14:44

good to know lol

#42 scubababy, 06 May 08 17:19

I cant seem to pass this darn test..

#43 TiberX, 08 May 08 13:03

test sucks it asks stuff about short stack strategys, like i dont have my own T.T

#44 stalkstar, 09 May 08 12:27

get fucked the whole lot of ya

#45 trilava, 09 May 08 22:51

wery nice

#46 sdDalton, 10 May 08 13:16

I read all and it is some useffull

#47 vnenchev, 11 May 08 03:20


#48 mikejohnson, 11 May 08 04:03

Great Job

#49 jimmac211, 12 May 08 16:05

good job

#50 emptymustardbottle, 12 May 08 22:48

awesome tips dude

#51 jrasp, 13 May 08 10:21

thank you

#52 Santanas, 13 May 08 18:25


#53 RDeMiro, 14 May 08 16:08


#54 jerrythejunkie, 15 May 08 17:08


#55 klgennell, 16 May 08 08:11

good job

#56 leedalby, 16 May 08 18:11


#57 lukahr, 16 May 08 20:59


#58 NiamhBarrett, 17 May 08 10:45


#59 faridinho, 17 May 08 11:46


#60 samson1121, 17 May 08 20:41


#61 mikeyboy, 18 May 08 13:22


#62 LastFalconFan, 18 May 08 19:36


#63 sirhyus, 18 May 08 22:54

okay good

#64 Mattymind, 19 May 08 16:08


#65 alanreid80, 19 May 08 16:34

thank you

#66 nezinomas, 25 May 08 11:17


#67 beigmatt, 29 Jun 08 23:35

I know I cant pass the test for some stupid reason....I know the stuff

#68 Aitchy, 09 Sep 08 11:37

sounds easy when u explain it like that lol great article well helpfull

#69 mouse89, 28 Sep 08 15:22

good job

#70 PokerN00b99, 21 Feb 09 20:31


#71 nibelungo, 02 Jan 10 15:31


#72 satkald, 10 Jan 10 07:20

what fucking test, it says fold with AK, are you kiding me

#73 satkald, 10 Jan 10 09:50

this test is bullshit

#74 Koshburger, 16 Jan 10 10:17


#75 rivermangdan, 14 Feb 10 16:05

hahaha i took the test from first time, lool satkald yes of course you have to fold with AK when you are in UTG1, UTG2, UTG3, this mean under gun read the guide man uhhhh...... thats why most of you dont get the test becouse you dont read the guide and answer by your self ;)

#76 Rap1d007, 05 Mar 10 18:07

very nice article, THUMBS UP :D

#77 kirezafirov, 21 Apr 10 17:21


A three-of-a-kind is composed of three cards of the same rank. If two players have the same three-of-a-kind, then the other cards, or both cards, determine the winner, since a poker hand is a always composed of five cards.
How can 2 players have the same three-of-a-kind.That would be 5 cards of the same rank.

#78 McClane74, 22 Apr 10 13:08

For.ex. 2 queens on table, both players has 1 queen

#79 manos90, 28 Apr 10 19:02

very good job!

#80 RusalkaRS, 19 May 10 20:46


#81 RusalkaRS, 19 May 10 21:04


#82 MancaMulas, 22 May 10 13:14


#83 eminema1, 20 Jun 10 18:20


#84 Helius, 20 Jun 10 20:57


#85 Nussler, 27 Jun 10 19:43


#86 Nerijus12, 18 Jul 10 13:21


#87 pogodon, 13 Aug 10 17:29

why do ya all say ok

#88 allihate, 10 Sep 10 07:37

nicely exlayned ^_^

#89 elirana1, 13 Sep 10 07:36


#90 elirana1, 13 Sep 10 07:36


#91 D3v1lxvn, 15 Sep 10 11:29


#92 grimble, 22 Sep 10 05:34

2(72)(75) Weird... AK is a very strong hand so it should always be raised with preflop at least according to Fixed Limit Handout.

#93 mrphuluffy, 26 Sep 10 10:49

great! thanks

#94 bestofmagic, 26 Nov 10 04:11


#95 abchaichau, 03 Dec 10 13:57


#96 ReaZoN999, 16 Jan 11 02:59

great :)

#97 DJILL007, 04 Feb 11 09:44


#98 catpeople, 05 Apr 11 19:24

AK es una mano muy fuerte por lo que siempre debe ser planteado antes del flop con menos de acuerdo con Límite Fijo Folleto.

#99 ivanrazakov, 06 Apr 11 14:09


#100 RYLFLSHAllIN, 30 May 11 18:16


#101 silverstream, 31 May 11 16:38

can I play now? :)

#102 IKSecret, 06 Jun 11 22:07

wp :D

#103 HoaMiTu, 11 Jun 11 15:01

verry good

#104 lobs2, 20 Jun 11 15:24


#105 conman1984, 14 Sep 11 06:46


#106 mirac12, 07 Dec 11 22:00

nice thanks

#107 standingo, 12 May 12 23:58

good intro

#108 tutubao, 03 Jul 12 15:03


#109 luckyme44, 20 Nov 12 15:32

:) refresher..

#110 Christoph420, 07 Dec 12 19:02

Back to basics :)

#111 ellamcc, 28 Dec 12 20:34


#112 radeon5870, 23 May 13 09:34

fine thanks!

#113 Matorzinho, 01 Jun 13 17:58


#114 NatRees, 09 Jun 13 21:56


#115 genia2q, 10 Jul 13 16:37

its good to refresh your memory on these tips thank you.

#116 lollo1588, 27 Jul 13 11:19

good to now

#117 madrik, 25 Aug 13 18:49


#118 iBerserker89, 02 Sep 13 22:39


#119 Rev3z, 23 Sep 13 12:59

can I play now ^^

#120 kanpoker, 12 Oct 13 07:33

Good information, Thanks

#121 erwidianto, 22 Oct 13 21:37

Thank you very much to this article,now I just a step to go poker knowledge :-)

#122 yinyan, 28 Oct 13 13:53

Nice one ,I need to keep reading

#123 dimas2345678, 10 Nov 13 09:19

good job

#124 yuli06, 10 Nov 13 13:53


#125 omashiplay, 30 Nov 13 19:16


#126 geriee, 15 Dec 13 02:25


#127 iwillwin2013, 28 Dec 13 00:42


#128 gunmala555, 01 Jan 14 12:07

excellent knowledge Thanks

#129 leosam18, 02 Jan 14 08:37


#130 Keketin, 12 Jan 14 09:11


#131 tinetotRNMD, 04 Feb 14 16:12


#132 m1ljan1an, 09 Feb 14 23:26


#133 remy18, 12 Feb 14 11:16


#134 gogelia96, 24 Feb 14 21:23

Nice article for begginers :)

#135 azheist11, 02 Mar 14 23:45

cool. Thanks for this article. Its helping for newbie ^^

#136 hamim88, 29 Mar 14 15:00

good article

#137 DONELIKADONK, 20 Apr 14 13:06

great info for begginers :)

#138 Dazbcricket, 20 Apr 14 14:00

Couldnt of put it better myself lol :-P

#139 charlie2kr, 27 May 14 04:14

good video!!

#140 zagdaa12, 29 May 14 08:53


#141 Petersey611, 04 Jun 14 15:43


#142 AndGuest, 06 Jul 14 17:03

good video

#143 Denis2031, 09 Jul 14 17:04

Nice video :D

#144 wirra, 11 Jul 14 10:19

good video

#145 rayburn31, 21 Jul 14 06:48


#146 joey1109, 26 Jul 14 14:07


#147 azizaazizou, 29 Jul 14 18:49


#148 neki222, 30 Jul 14 17:59


#149 STEPVN, 31 Jul 14 16:06

got taught !

#150 emkaflowers, 06 Aug 14 01:26


#151 liviu1991RNMD, 06 Aug 14 19:54


#152 legendrigion, 08 Aug 14 17:07


#153 crank200sx, 14 Aug 14 15:38

good job

#154 Malimujo990, 16 Aug 14 16:24


#155 gregorcek, 17 Aug 14 13:32


#157 patrakis7, 20 Aug 14 06:45

good job

#158 Amph4ros, 20 Aug 14 17:52


#159 biggood, 21 Aug 14 18:44

nice job

#160 logitechmouese, 24 Aug 14 08:24

Cool article

#161 suleimanhoney, 29 Aug 14 17:18

Hope I can be poker master

#162 ambroa139, 30 Aug 14 13:32


#163 biggood, 03 Sep 14 10:53


#164 Buster76316, 16 Sep 14 22:21

dats great..

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