Back To Basics: How To Play Hold’em

Not everyone who loves sports betting and casino games also loves poker. Sound familiar? Maybe you’ve tried and don’t gel with it. Or maybe you’ve just never really learned how to play hold’em.

We’re betting that if you learned how to play hold’em, your opinion might change somewhat.

Texas Hold’em is a cracker of a game. It’s easy to learn (despite what some people will lead you the believe) and it’s got incredible depth. That means it’s fun for people of all levels to play.

And we promise, once you get your head around these basics, you’ll soon be spreading the word and teaching other non-believers the joys of how to play hold’em. It’s by far and away the most popular poker game and you’ll find out why soon…

Oh and if you’re looking for somewhere to test out your skills, check out Coral Poker. They’ve got a great range of tournaments and cash games at a range of levels, plus awesome promotions too.

Tell me how to play hold’em

The whole aim of the game is to make the best five-card hand. You can do that using any combination of:

  • You two hole cards (dealt to you at the start of the hand and kept secret throughout)
  • Five community cards, that are dealt out throughout the course of the hand. Keep in mind all the other players can also use any of these cards to make up their best five-card hand

Your place at the table

The fun thing about hold’em is that your table position always changes. Speaking of positions, here are the key ones you should know about:

  • Dealer: this is the player who is the last to act in each hand
  • Small blind: this person is forced to put half a minimum bet in at the start of a hand, they are immediately to the left of the dealer and they are the first player to act for the majority of the betting rounds
  • Big blind: this person is forced to put a minimum bet in at the start of a hand, they are immediately to the left of the small blind and they are the first player to act for the majority of the betting rounds

Once the hand is completed, the dealer button moves to the left and new players are given the roles of dealer, small blind and big blind.

Betting rounds

No matter what the betting round, there are several different actions that you can take during a Texas hold’em game.

When you check, you’re not putting any more chips in but you’re still in the game because no one else has increased the bet. If you fold, you’re choosing not to put any/more chips in and you’re throwing your cards away (into the muck). You can call, which means you’re matching the minimum bet on the table. And if you raise, you’re increasing the minimum bet on the table and challenging players to match it.

There up to four different betting rounds in each hold’em poker game:

  • Pre-flop: before the first community cards are revealed
  • Flop: after the first three community cards are revealed
  • Turn: after the fourth community card is revealed
  • River: after the fifth and final community card is revealed

Winning hands at hold’em

You can win a hand in Texas hold’em and take the chips in the middle of the table (pot) for yourself in two ways.

The first is if everyone else at the table folds and you’re the last one still in the game. This usually happens if you’ve made a big bet or, occasionally, if you are the big blind and no one else wants to play with their cards.

The second way you can win is if you and at least one other player make the same bet at the river. Then there’s a showdown. You both reveal your cards and the strongest hand wins.

How do I know if I have the strongest hand?

The strongest hand is determined by a simple hand-ranking system. This is based on how likely it is that you’ll get each combination. The less likely, the higher the rank. It’s intuitive for anyone who’s been playing a while, but if you’re a newbie, take note:

  1. A, K, Q, J, 10 of the same suit is called a Royal Flush
  2. Five sequential cards in the same suit is a Straight Flush
  3. Four cards of the same rank is called Four of a Kind
  4. Three cards of the same rank plus two cards of the same rank is a Full House
  5. Five cards of the same suit is called a Flush
  6. Five sequential cards is a Straight
  7. Three cards of the same rank is called a Three of a Kind
  8. Two cards of the same rank plus another two cards of the same rank is called a Two Pair
  9. Two cards of the same rank is a Pair
  10. The highest card in your hand is called a High Card