Texas Hold’em is without a doubt the most popular poker game in the world today. The game features a ‘community’ of five cards that all players can use in combination with their own two ‘hole’ cards to create the best possible five card hand.
At iHoldem, there are three variations of Texas Hold’em offered (as so defined by their betting limits):
Limit Texas Hold’em (includes a specific betting limit in each game and on each round of betting).
Pot Limit Texas Hold’em (a player can bet no more than what is in the pot at the time of betting)
No Limit Texas Hold’em (a player can bet as many chips as they like for any bet).
The circular ‘dealer button’ indicates the dealer of each hand. This ‘dealer button’ moves clockwise to the next player after every hand. Being the dealer can be considered advantageous, since the dealer will always bet last after the flop, and is thus able to see what the other players are doing.
Note: During Single Table Poker Tournaments, the first player to receive the dealer button is determined by a high card being drawn – every player is dealt a card, with the button going to the player with the highest value card. If two or more players receive the same value card, then the dealer is chosen based on the suit rank, highest to lowest – spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs).
The player to the immediate left of the dealer automatically has to place a ‘small blind’(generally half the lower stake on limit games). The next player to the small blind’s left places the ‘big blind’ (generally equal to the lower stake on limit games). Once these bets are placed, the cards are dealt, and the player to the left of the big blind starts the betting.
These blinds are both considered to be live bets, so when action returns to the small and big blind, they have to option to check, call, raise, or fold. After the flop, the first active player to the left of the dealer button will be first to act.
After sitting down at an active table, a player will be required to post the value of the big blind. To prevent ‘blinds abuse’, players are required to put up the small blind and big blind upon re-entry to a table (after returning from sitting out) should they miss their blinds. Only the big blind is actually posted as a live bet, while the remainder is added directly to the pot. Players have the option to sit out and wait for the button to rotate to a better position before starting play.
Mandatory posting of the blinds is a requirement to ensure fairness in the game; this prevents players from entering games in a later position and then trying to leave before being required to post the big blind, or continually switching suits to try and gain a positional advantage.
The first player after the big blind starts the betting in this round. They have the option to call the big blind, raise, or fold. The remaining players have the same options available to them. To ‘call’ means to equal the bet made by the previous betting player. To ‘fold’ means to throw away your cards and allow the next player to make a play. Any raises made must be at least the value of the previous raise in no-limit holdem, or can be no higher than an assigned limit in any limit tables. This is true for all rounds of betting.
The second round of betting begins once the first 3 community cards have been dealt, known as the flop.
The first player in line to act is the player to the left of the dealer button, which is generally the small blind. To ‘check’ means to refrain from betting, and is only an available option if no bet has yet been made in the round of betting. After a bet is made, the remaining players only have the option to call, fold, or raise.
The third round of betting begins when the 4th community card has been dealt, known as the turn.
Again, the first active player left of the dealer button begins the round with the option to check, bet, or fold. The same options are then available to the remaining players. At limit tables, the limit of the raise will sometimes increase at this level.
The final round of betting begins when the 5th community card has been dealt, known as the river.
For the final time, the player to the left of the dealer button has the option to bet, check, or folds. Bets and raises are again limited to the upper limit of the stakes structure at limit tables. The remaining players can then call, check, raise or fold.
If there is still more than one active player left after the final round of betting, then the remaining players show their two cards to see who has the best hand.
Players have the choice of using a combination of their own cards along with the community cards; either 2 player cards + 3 community cards, 1 player card + 4 community cards or even all 5 community cards (called playing the board).
The pot is split equally if two or more players have the same hand.
There are a few exceptions to the above. In Limit Texas Hold’em a maximum of four bets are allowed per player in a betting round – (1) bet, (2) raise, (3) re-raise and (4) cap. In No Limit and Pot Limit Texas Hold’em the number of times a player can raise is unlimited. However, a player cannot raise themselves (if a player raises and then all the remaining players call or fold, then the player who raised would not get an option to raise because they were the last to raise).
If a player does not have enough chips to call they are declared All-In. This player is eligible for the portion of the pot to the point of their final bet.
Bets by other players from that point on go to a “side pot” and any All-In players are excluded from it.
See poker hands, for card rankings and definitions.