How to play No Limit Texas Hold 'Em
Don't know how to play? Don't let that stop you! Here are the rules for playing Texas Hold'em Poker. Remember, our staff are always on hand to help you out at a WA Poker League event, and we have no doubt that your fellow players will help you along the way to becoming a poker champion!
For those people who have already played, and need a quick step by step brush-up on the rules...
- Figure out who the starting dealer is through a high card selection by each player, where the player with the highest card becomes the first Dealer.
- Dealer shuffles, player on Dealer's left posts Small Blind, player on Small Blind's left posts Big Blind.
- Dealer passes the deck to the Player on their right, who cuts the cards onto the Joker.
- Dealer deals. Player to left of Big Blind calls, raises or folds. Betting continues till everyone has Folded or Called.
- Bets collected into the pot by Dealer, Dealer now burns a card and places the next 3 card flop face up on the table.
- Player to Dealer's left starts betting round. Minimum bet is equal to the Big Blind. Betting continues till all players have folded or called.
- Chips collected to pot. Dealer burns card and places the next card face up with the other community cards. This is the Turn card.
- Betting starts again at the player left of Dealer, and continues till all players have folded or called.
- Chips collected to pot. Dealer burns card and places the last card face up with the other community cards. This is the River card.
- Betting starts again at the player left of Dealer, and continues till all players have folded or called.
- If more than one player has called, Showdown ensues, with the Called player showing their hand first, then all other players in order from their left. Winner takes the pot.
- The Dealer token is moved to the player left of Dealer, and the next hand starts.
If you're a newer player, and would like some more specific rules for No Limit Texas Hold'em Poker, here you go!
The basic principle of Texas Hold'em Poker is to have the winning combination (hand) of cards, a better hand than those you're playing against. You can make your hand up out of any combination of your two dealt cards (called the "pocket" or "hole" cards) and five community cards, from which the other players can also make their hands up from. As the game progresses and more community cards are brought to the table (to the total of 5), betting rounds ensue, allowing you to raise the stakes, so to speak, for players at the table to have to "call" (ie. meet your bet) or "fold" (give up on their hand). The winner of the hand gets the "pot" which is the number of chips bet in that hand. Gaming continues until there is only one player left in the event, at which time they are announced the winner of the tournament, and get their trophy, and their prize if it is a Pro League Tournament! It's great fun!
- The Dealer is a player who has the "dealer" chip in front of them. At the start of the game, the person with the dealer button in front of them "washes" the cards, by spreading them all out in the table in front of them, then the player to their left selects a random card from the pile, placing it face up in front of them. The next player does the same, and so it contines around the table till everyone has a card face up in front of them. The player with the highest card becomes the Dealer. If two or more players have the same high card, they select another card, until only one of them has the highest card, and becomes the first Dealer. They then collect up all the cards and shuffle the deck ready to start.
- The player to the immediate left of the Dealer is called the "Small Blind" and the player to the Small Blind's immediate left is called the "Big Blind". The Big Blind refers to the minimum bet amount for the hand, and the Small Blind is generally half the value of the Big Blind. As the Tournament rounds increase, the Blinds will increase, thus increasing the minimum bet. Before each hand is dealt, the Small Blind and Big Blind have to "post" their blinds, by putting them as a bet in front of them. eg. if the Blinds are currently 25/50, the Small Blind posts 25, the Big Blind posts 50, and the minimum bet for the hand is 50. (The minimum bet is always the same as the Big Blind). These Blinds are forced bets, which must be made before players are even dealt cards.
- The Dealer hands the shuffled deck to the Player to their right, who picks up part of the deck from the top and places it onto the joker, and then places the rest of the cards on top of those. This cuts the deck, and the Joker remains on the bottom of the deck so nobody can see the bottom card during dealing.
- The Dealer then deals 2 cards to each player on the table, starting by dealing the first card to the player to his/her left. The first cards are dealt to each player clockwise around the table, then the second cards are dealt to each player in the same order, so all players end up with two cards each. These cards are the "hole" or "pocket" cards, and should only ever be shown to other players at the end of the hand if you are one of the players contesting to win the hand.
- The first round of betting ensues, starting from the player to the left of the Big Blind. To stay in the hand, they must put an amount equal to or more than the amount already bet (The Big Blind, in this case). Meeting the minimum bet is called a "call", and meeting the bet then increasing it is called a "raise". A Raise is always at least double the call amount. For example, if the a bet of 50 chip value is raised, it will be raised to 100 or more. Because this is No Limit Texas Hold 'Em, there is No Limit to how much you can Raise. Technically, you can raise your entire remaining chips in a hand. Upon a Raise, the other players must call the raised bet. If a player doesn't want to play their hand or call the bet, they "fold" or "muck" their cards by putting their hole cards face down on the table in front of them and pushing them towards the middle of the table for the Dealer to collect into a pile of dead cards.
- Betting continues around the table, with players calling the highest bet, until all players have either folded or have bet the same amount on the hand. Once that is done, the Dealer collects the bet chips and puts them in the centre of the table. This is called the "pot", and is the accumulating amount of chips that you can win by winning the hand. One slight additional note to this is that if everyone calls the blinds (say the big blind is 100), and the round gets to the big blind who already has their forced 100 bet, they DO get a choice to "Check" or Raise, since they hadn't yet had the option. A Check is where a player doesn't want to bet, but doesn't have to call a bet before them.
- Once the pot is collected, the Dealer "burns" the first card off the top of the deck, by moving it still face down to the side of the deck (the same place any folded cards end up, the dead card pile), then proceeds to take the next three cards from top of the deck and places them face up on the table next to the deck. This is called the "flop", and they are the first 3 of 5 community cards in hand of Texas Hold 'Em.
- Betting ensues, and play moves to the player immediately to the Dealer's left, where they have the option of "Check", or Bet. A Check is an option to stay in the hand if there has been no prior bet, without having to put any bet on the table. Since there was no bet so far this betting round, the players could all check through the betting round. However, if one player decides to bet the minimum (Big Blind) bet or more, all players must call, raise the bet or fold out of the hand. A player who raises can never raise their own bet if everyone else calls it and it wasn't reraised. The betting round will end once the other players have called and the bets are all even between players.
- Once the betting round ends, again the dealer collects up the bets and adds them to the pot, as well as any discarded cards that have been folded, putting them face down next to the deck in the discard pile. The dealer then burns another card from the top of the deck, and turns another card face up on the table, next to the other three community cards. This fourth community card is called the "Turn" card.
- Another round of betting starts from the player to the left of the dealer. This betting round ends again when all players have either checked, called or folded.
- The dealer collects the bets and adds them to the pot, collects any folded cards to the dead pile, and again burns a card and reveals the next card from the deck face up with the community cards. This fifth and final community card is called the "River" card and once this is out, all players remaining in the hand know their final hand for the round, and have the opportunity to bet that their hand will beat the other remaining players.
- This is the final betting round before the remaining players will show their hands. If all players other than one decide to fold out of the hand, then the single player remaining does not have to show his hand, since no one is calling to see it, and they win the pot uncontested. Once betting has completed and all players are either folded or have checked or called, the Dealer collects the bets for the pot, and any discarded cards.
- Assuming more than 1 player remains, the "Showdown" ensues, where players show their hands starting from the player who was called by the other remaining players (ie. the last player to have raised the bet), then moving to the left player of him/her around the table.
- The player with the winning combination of five cards out of their hole/pocket cards and community cards is declared the winner of the hand, and takes the pot. If both players have the same hand rank, the highest card combo wins (for example, a pair of aces beats a pair of queens). If both players have identical hands, the player with the high card wins (for example, if both players have a pair of 9s, but one has an Ace high and the other has 7 high, the Ace high player wins). If the players have the same high card, too, then the next highest cards for each player are compared, etc, until a winner is found. Remember, you only have the top 5 cards to take into account for comparison between players. In the case of a perfectly identical hand between two or more players, the result is called a "Split Pot", and the pot is split evenly between the winners of the hand, with any extra chips that cannot be split being awarded to the remaining player leftmost to the dealer. This is because the players sitting in the earlier positions technically are at a positional disadvantage to players sitting further through the position order from the dealer. Once the winner/s of the hand are determined and the Dealer gives them the pot they won, the hand is over.
- The dealer button is then moved to the player to the left of the player who just dealt the completed hand, the cards are all collected and reshuffled by the new Dealer, and the next hand starts with the blinds being posted again. Be sure to check that the Blind Round hasn't increased when you start the new hand, as you may have to post larger small/big blinds and minimum bets if it has increased to the next round of the tournament.
That's it! Sound confusing? Trust us, it's a lot more confusing written down than when you experience it in person.
Following are the "Hand Rankings" for Texas Hold'em Poker. They range from "high card" to the "Royal Flush", with the Royal Flush being the best card combination possible, and the High Card being the lowest.
Royal Flush - Ace high straight from 10-A, all same suit.
Straight Flush - Straight not ending in Ace, all same suit.
Four of a Kind - Four cards of the same kind, any high card.
Full House - Three of a kind, plus a pair.
Flush - All cards from the same suit.
Straight - Straight run of cards, any suit.
Three of a Kind - Three the same kind, any high card.
Two Pair - Two pairs of two of the same kind, any high card.
Pair - Two of the same kind, any high card.
High Card - Not even a pair, just the highest card in your hand.