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How to Play Texas Hold'em Poker

Get an edge with these quick tips and basic strategies

Played with 2 hole cards, and 5 community cards, Texas Hold'em is the most popular 7-card poker game.

Texas Hold’em Poker is simple to learn, but nearly impossible to master.  Art and math play equal parts into making a successful Hold’em player. 

Invented in the early 20th century, this community-card-based game exploded in popularity in 2003 leading to what some refer to as the “Poker Boom”.  

Texas Hold'em Poker
Game ComplexitySimple
TypeCommunity Card Poker

Gameplay of Texas Hold'em Poker

  • Setting Up

    Setting Up

    • You'll need: a button, small & big blinds.
    • Use any betting structure you desire (limit, no-limit, spread limit, etc.).
    • Deal each player 2 cards, face down. This is the 'pre-flop' action.
  • Action

    The Action

    • There are 4 betting rounds:  pre-flop, flop, turn and river.
    • After the pre-flop betting, a 3-card "flop" is dealt which can be used by all players. 
    • The turn and river (dealt separately) contain 1 card each for a total of 5 community cards.
  • Who's the Winner?

    Determining a Winner

    • Players who complete the last round of betting without folding go to the showdown.
    • The player with the best combination of his 2 hole cards and the 5 community cards wins.
    • Best 5-card hand plays. E.g. 2 cards from the player hand plus 3 of the community cards. 

Basic Strategies of Texas Hold'em Poker

  • Pre-Flop

    Beginners should focus on playing big pairs and other high-card combinations to avoid getting into difficult situations.

    Playing position is important. The later you are to act, the looser you can be with your starting hand requirements.

    Stay in with mediocre hands only if there is no raise.

  • Post-Flop

    The odds of hitting a pair or more on the flop are only 32.3%, so if you're heads-up in a hand your pair is probably good.

    Acting last is a huge advantage. Think about betting if everyone checks to you after the flop.  

    You should fold if you miss the flop and there are multiple bets/raises in front of you.

  • Betting

    Betting occurs after the first 2 hole cards are dealt, plus after every section of community cards.  There are 4 rounds in total.

    If you can isolate your opponents and play against only one other player, you can be very aggressive.  A more subtle approach is needed in multi-way pots.  

What You Need to Know About Texas Hold'em Starting Hands

  •  Good Starting Hands

    Play these hands in all positions (and for a raise):

    • High pairs (AA, KK, QQ)
    • High suited-connectors (AK, KQ suited).
    • Mid-pairs and big connectors (AK, JJ, TT).
  •  Poor Starting Hands

    Almost never play these hands: 

    • Big card, small card (Q-3, K-2, J-4).
    • Small non-suited, non-connectors (7-2, 8-3 offsuit).
  •  Marginal Starting Hands

    Play these hands cheaply or heads-up:

    • Mid suited connectors (9-8, 8-7 suited).
    • Medium Pairs (9-9,8-8,7-7,6-6)
  •  Positional Hands

    Play in late position when folded to you:

    • Mid-large connectors (TJ, QT, etc.)
    • Small suited connectors & one-gappers (6-5s, 9-7s)

Do's and Don'ts for Better Texas Hold'em Play

  • Never Limp Early

    Because position is so important, you should never limp into a pot in early position. Take control or gtfo.

  • Narrow the Field

    Playing heads-up pots in position is important because your decisions will be simpler. You can also be more aggressive heads-up.

  • Don't Bluff the Fish

    Contrary to common belief, bluffing is not the main point of poker, and should not be used on loose players who barely ever fold.

Famous Texas Hold'em Poker Hands

  • Texas Hold'em Poker: Famous hand from High Stakes Poker

    Gus Hansen and Daniel Negreanu play an unbelievable pot.  

    This Video Contains:

    1. The largest High Stakes Poker hand from 2010.
    2. A well-timed check-raise.
    3. Quads.
  • Texas Hold'em Poker: Instincts of a Champion with Johnny Chan

    A classic hand with Johnny Chan from Poker After Dark.  

    This Video Contains:  

    1. Johnny Chan, Huck Seed and Joe Hachem.  
    2. Pocket Aces.
    3. Chan's explanation of the events.

Where Can I Play Texas Hold'em Online?