How to Play Texas Hold ’em

Posted on: February 19, 2018

“You’ve got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away, you’ve gotta take your time…” and even though Kenny Rogers didn’t mention it, you’ve definitely gotta know how to play. Texas Hold’Em (or just Hold ’em) is a variation of the card game poker that has captivated audiences for decades at parties, casinos, online, and even worldwide tournaments. The truth is that it’s not difficult to understand and relies on lady luck more than any strategy will, so with that in mind let’s go ahead and lay out the basics.

  • The goal of the game is to come out with the best hand using your cards and the ones spread on the table by the dealer
  • At the start of the game each player is dealt two cards for their eyes only
  • A first turn goes around the table where each player gets an opportunity to fold, check, call, or raise
  • Fold – To fold is to discard one’s hand and forfeit interest in the current pot. No further bets are required by the folding player, but the player cannot win. Folding may be indicated verbally or by discarding one’s hand face down into the pile of other discards called the muck, or into the pot (uncommon).
  • Check – If you instead decide to check, you are deferring your betting rights for the time being. Another player may now bet, in which case you may fold your hand, call the bet or raise (the action of first checking and then raising when an opponent bets is known as a check-raise).
  • Call – To call is to match a bet or match a raise. A betting round ends when all active players have bet an equal amount or everyone folds to a player’s bet or raise. If no opponents call a player’s bet or raise, the player wins the pot.
  • Raise – The minimum bet in most Hold’em games is the same as the size of the big blind (the blinds are forced bets posted by players to the left of the dealer button in flop-style poker games), but players can always bet up to the size of the pot. Minimum raise: The raise amount must be at least as much as the previous bet or raise in the same round.
  • The dealer then lays out three cards after the first round, then one in each of the remaining rounds until there are five cards on the table.
  • The players that are still in the game when there are five cards on the table will throw their cards in the pile of five to see who has the best hand
  • The top 10 hands are ranked as follows:


  1. High Card – The winner has the highest value card in the set
  2. One Pair – The winner has a pair of cards in the same rank
  3. Two Pair – The winner has two pairs of cards in the same rank
  4. Three of a Kind – The winner has three cards of the same rank
  5. Straight – The winner has five cards that follow one another between 2 and Ace
  6. Flush – The winner has five cards all in the same suit
  7. Full House – Three matching cards of one rank and two matching cards of another rank
  8. Four of a Kind – The winner has all four cards of the same rank
  9. Straight Flush – Five cards that follow one another between 2 and Ace in the same suit
  10. Royal Flush – The combination of the cards between 10 and Ace in the same suit

It takes a few rounds to get used to the flow of the game, but don’t be intimidated by all the rules and just remember that luck doesn’t care who has the most experience.