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Going All-In: How Texas Hold’em Poker works

Texas Hold’em is the most popular poker variation loved by many for its simple and exciting gameplay. It grew in popularity during the online poker craze in the 2000s and as a result, became one of the most played poker variations in casinos.

This variation uses a 52-card pack and each player is dealt with two private cards called ‘hole cards’. To form a board, five community cards are placed face-down. Players combine their two private cards with the community cards to create the highest five-card poker hand possible. They can use any combination of the seven cards using zero, one or two of their private cards.

Types of poker hands

The first thing you need to know before getting into the game is knowing the types of poker hands and their ranking. This will give you an idea of the different hand-ranks and pairings that can help you create a winning five-card poker hand. Here’s the list of the ten types of poker hands from highest to lowest:

  • Royal Flush – Five cards of the same suit consisting of an ace, king, queen, jack and ten.
  • Straight Flush – Five cards with the same suit that are ranked consecutively.
  • Four of a Kind – Four cards of the same rank and another card of a different rank. For example: Q, Q, Q, Q, 3.
  • Full house – Three cards of the same rank and two cards of the same rank that don’t necessarily need to be of the same suit. For example: Q, Q, Q, 9, 9.
  • Flush – Any five cards of the same suit.
  • Three of a Kind – Three cards of the same rank. For example: 9, 9, 9, 5, K.
  • Straight – Any 5 cards of different suits that are ranked consecutively. For example: K, Q, J, 10, 9.
  • Two Pair – Four cards with matching pairs. For example: 7, 7, K, K, 9.
  • One pair – Two cards with the same rank. For example: 5, 5, 9, Q, 8.
  • High cards – Five unmatching cards of different ranks and suits.

Betting Options

There are multiple betting options in poker, all with their functions and purposes. Knowing each one will help you pick out the best during your game. Consider these five betting options when playing Texas Hold’em:

  • Call – Matches your bet with the previous bet.
  • Raise – Increases the amount of your existing bet.
  • Fold – Withdraws your hand from the game.
  • Check – Doesn’t place a bet or raise during the round; also called ‘pass’.
  • All in – Wagers out your entire stack of chips to the pot.

Texas Hold’em: Step by step guide

Before you can conquer the poker table, you must first learn the flow of the gameplay. Find out more about this in detail below:

Step 1. Mandatory bets

Before the dealer hands out the cards, two players are required to make a mandatory bet or ante. The player on the dealer’s left side places a small blind worth half the minimum bet while the player on their left places a big blind equal to the minimum bet or higher.

Step 2. Dealer deals players with two cards

Following the blinds, the dealer hands two face-down cards called ‘hole cards’ to each player. These are kept unknown from other players. 

Step 3. Pre-flop

The player after the big blind decides first whether or not to wager based on the quality of their hole cards. Since the big blind qualifies as a stake in the first round of betting, this player is not permitted to check their hole cards. This will give them the option to fold, call or raise.

Afterwards, each player gets a turn to call, raise or fold until it circles back to the person who wagered the big blind. Because the big blind was their opening bet, this player can now fold, raise or check. The process of betting continues until all players get their turn during the round.

Step 4. The flop

Once all players have finalized their bets and actions, the dealer removes or burns one card from the deck then deals three cards face-up called ‘the flop’ on the table. Players who haven’t folded yet must now choose their next move depending on the kind of hand they can make with their hole cards, the three flop cards and two community cards that are yet to be dealt.

Step 5. Post-flop

The player on the left side of the dealer bets first, leaving other players the option to fold, check or raise. The betting then continues until all players take their turn for the round.

Step 6. The turn

After removing a card from the deck, the dealer adds a new one on the table. The remaining players must now choose their next move based on the best possible hand they can make using their hole cards, the four community cards and the fifth card.

Before checking, all players must either fold, bet ‘all in’ on their chips, or match the wager of other players.

Step 8. The river

The river is the fifth community card. Once it’s dealt with and all five community cards are on the table, all players decide which betting option to do during the round.

Step 9. The showdown

After the fourth and final round of betting, the showdown begins if two or more players still remain in the game. Each player now has to come up with the best five-card poker hand using their hole cards and community cards. 

The player with the best five-card hand combination wins the pot according to the poker hand ranking. During this round, players can also opt not to use any of their hole cards and instead rely on the five community cards to form their hands, but a draw is the most possible outcome in this case. 

If everyone else except one has folded, they automatically become the winner and no showdown occurs. However, it can also happen anytime in the game even before the final betting round if the rest but two players have folded.

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