StrategyPoker Basics

Rules of Texas Hold'em & Poker Strategy -

In this article you will learn

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

Welcome to's strategy section. In the next few minutes you will learn how to play texas hold'em 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.

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.

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.