This guide is dedicated to players who are just starting out and want to learn everything from scratch. If you are new to this game, you first need to master Texas Holdem poker rules not to put yourself in an undesirable position in the middle of the hand and only then move forward with more advanced strategies.
Therefore, before starting covering all game flow and poker rules, we will start with poker hands rankings because knowing what beats what is surely the first thing you need to learn.
Texas Holdem Hands Rankings
This is the list of all possible combinations ranging from the strongest hand – Royal Flush, to the weakest – just a high card. Knowing that flush beats straights and that three of a kind are better than two pairs is mandatory, and you have to know it by heart. However, if you want to learn more about the rules of rankings and how to analyse your opponents hands, make sure to read full guide on poker hands rankings!
Texas Holdem Poker Rules
Texas Hold’em is by far the most popular poker variant in the world, and everyone can join the action by learning simple rules. Even though Texas Holdem poker rules are quite easy, you need to spend some time mastering it. Moreover, you will need to learn some advanced strategies to play at higher stakes, and we will get to that as well.
However, let us start from the beginning. Your goal is to make the best five-card hand according to Texas Holdem hand rankings, which we covered above or bluff your opponent and get him to fold.
In Texas Holdem, every player gets two cards, which are faced down and known as hole cards. You should not show your holdings to anyone in the middle of the hand and only do that when you reach the showdown where you have to show the hand to decide the winner.
The goal of Texas Holdem is to make the winning 5-card combination from your hole and community cards. Community cards are displayed in the middle of the table, and everyone can use those to make a winning hand. There could be up to 5 community cards in Texas Holdem if you see the river. The first three are dealt on the flop, then one on the turn and the last one on the river.
As you already know, these cards are visible all the time, and every player can use those to make a winning hand combined with your holdings. You can use one or both of your cards to make the hand, or you can play the board, which means you are using all five community cards if you are unable to make a better combination with your hole cards.
In the end, the player who has the best combination wins if the showdown is reached, but you can always bluff your opponent and take down the pot without it.
Before the action starts, you have to decide who is going to be the dealer. The standard practice is that everyone draws a card and who has the highest ones becomes the dealer in the first hand. After that, dealer button moves to the left and everyone will be the dealer when it is their turn.
A player to the immediate left of the dealer is SB (small blind), and the player to the left of SB is BB (big blind). Both players have to post the blinds before the hand is even dealt, and that is why the bet called “blind”. In most cases, BB is exactly the double in size of SB or conveniently close to it.
If you are playing in a cash game where the BB is $1 than the SB will be $0.5, and as a standard, the buy-in is 100 big blinds in a cash game or anything else as agreed by everyone, so in this case, it would be $100.
Starting Texas Holdem game
When the dealer is set, and blinds are posted the action can start. As the name suggests dealer is the one who deals the cards, and he starts doing it by giving the first card to the SB and continuing clockwise until everyone gets two cards (meaning there will be two whole circles of dealing one card to each player). The dealer gets the last card if the hand is dealt correctly and then the betting action starts. When you finish playing the hand, the dealer button moves left by one place clockwise, and all action starts from the beginning.
The hand ends when every player folds in any giving betting round, or you see the showdown when all rounds are completed.
First betting round (Preflop)
When all the above steps are complete, blinds set and hands dealt – the first betting round begins. The first to act is the player who is in immediate left of the big blind.
- He can FOLD – if his hand is weak and he does not want to play it;
- He can CALL – match the amount of the big blind if he chooses;
- He can RAISE – increase the bet to the size that he wants, which follows the limits of the game.
When the first player makes the decision, it is time for one who is sitting in immediate left to him, and all action continues clockwise until everyone makes the decision and matches bet sizes or folds. When a player decides to fold, he is not going to be involved in the hand anymore.
Other players also have these three options and can make a decision based on the strength of their hand if everyone folded until them. For example, if the first player calls, the second one raises, and everyone folds to the first player he can fold, raise or call and see the flop.
When everyone makes their decisions, and the bets are matched (is someone raised, another player called), we going to see the flop.
Second betting round (On the flop)
This is where it gets interesting. When the preflop round ends, first three community cards are dealt on the flop, and everyone can evaluate if it helped to improve the hand with their hole cards.
Now the action starts from the first active player who is left of the dealer and continues clockwise like always. Again, all players have to make their decisions and can choose from:
- betting (placing a bet if no one did that before them),
- checking (passing the action to another player, can only be done if no one bet before you),
- calling (matching the amount of the bet another player made), raising or folding.
Third betting round (On the turn)
When everyone acted, and all bets are matched on the flop, you will see the turn card. After seeing the fourth community card, the entirely new betting rounds begin, and the action follows in the same way as on the flop.
Final betting round (On the river)
The last community card, which you will see is called the river. It is the fifth card that is placed face-up, and everyone can use it to make the winning combination. When the card is displayed, another betting round occurs in the same way as on the previous street. Depending on your spot, you still have an option to check, bet, raise, call or fold. When all the betting action is completed, remaining player will go into the showdown. It is the name of the end stage where you show the hand and see who the winner is. Everyone opens his or her hole cards, and the player with the best five-card combination takes down the pot.
How To Play Texas Holdem Poker
One of the most important things is to select right hands to play. If you end up playing many weak hands or just premium ones, you will not do well. Therefore, to help you out with this I created printable poker hands cheat sheet, which you can download and put next to your table.
I have separate ranges for cash games and tournaments so make sure to grab it now, and you will be on the right track.
Building a winning Texas Holdem strategy is not as easy as it could look and it will inevitably require some studying, reading and most importantly, playing yourself. I highly recommend getting familiarised with poker stats, and how to use it to gain an advantage over your opponents.
Moreover, when you are starting out, make sure to play tight but aggressive strategy. There is no point to play many weak holdings, but when you play, try to do that by raising and betting instead of just passively calling preflop, and it will be the good first step.
Texas Holdem tips
Before jumping into the games you should be aware that there are many things, you need to master, and some of them is not even strategy related. The first thing that comes to my mind is poker bankroll management. It is one of the essential skills to learn, which will help you build the confidence and enable you to learn the game much faster. If you follow, correct guidelines and separate your poker bankroll from everyday life, you will not feel under pressure and can make better decisions. Moreover, it is equally important to have enough money to outlive swings, which will inevitably happen because of poker variance. This alone will prevent you from tilting and unnecessary losing money.
Another one of Texas Holdem tips is to prepare for your games. If you spend few minutes before your session to take care of all your basic needs, turn off all distractions and prepare yourself mentally, you will make much better decisions and will be able to keep your concentration for longer. Self-management is critical, and you can get a bit more information about this topic on my free poker book!
Apart from that, most other tips are strategy related, and you will find a full list of my best poker tips here!
Ultimate Texas Hold’em online strategy
When you know basic poker rules, it is time to build and an ultimate plan for your Texas Holdem games. The first step is to learn more about GTO (game theory optimal) play. I gave an extended guide comparing and explaining GTO poker strategy vs exploitative play. You will surely learn quite a lot reading it, so devote few minutes of your time.
The whole idea for the advanced strategies is to balance your ranges in the way that no one could exploit you. If you can build such ranges, you will be able to play in any game and still be making money. However, it is not as easy as it could look and requires a tremendous amount of work, time and even dedicated solving software that cost a lot of money. The good news is that you do not have to do it on your own because I already did it. I spend hundreds of hours analysing different strategies, ranges and working with a number of different software to give a solution for you. Thus, now you can master any part of your game, be it preflop or postflop, with my advanced poker strategy videos.
As I said at the beginning of this ultimate Texas Holdem strategy paragraph, GTO is the best starting point for anyone, and you will not go wrong with it. However, it works best against professional players who are not making many mistakes, and you do not have many ways to exploit them.
However, if you are up against weaker players who have many leaks and are just bleeding money, you should not be looking to balance your ranges and be unexploitable. Instead, you should concentrate on exploiting their mistakes. I will give you an extreme example, if someone is raising 100% of his hands on the BTN and folds to 3bet around 90% of the time, you should be 3betting him every single time with your weak hands, and you will end up printing money against such player. However, you cannot 3bet extensive and unbalanced ranges against professional poker players because they will recognize it, adjust their strategy and punish you hard.
Therefore, your best bet is to learn both of these strategies and apply it when needed. To take a shortcut in your learning path, you can take any of my courses in the area where you struggle and will save months of time and a lot of money by playing in the right way at once.
I covered preflop strategies for different games such as MTTs, 6max cash, and Spin & Go tournaments, also known as jackpot tournaments on various sites. Therefore, you can enroll in any of these courses and will get GTO poker ranges and exploitative strategies right away. Moreover, I explain how to change your strategies versus weaker opponents, how to play facing different sizing and how to adjust your plan to gain an ultimate edge.
Same goes for postflop courses. If you want to learn how to continuation bet and barrel, when to bluff or bluff catch, how to play 3bet pots or what are the best strategies from the Big Blind you can learn it at once and no one will be able to do anything against your ultimate Texas Holdem online strategy!
Texas Holdem Odds
Poker is a math game thus learning Texas Holdem odds is crucial. To be honest, there are plenty of numbers that you should know, and it could take a lot of time to gather all this information, so I did it for you. Here is a dedicated page to poker odds where you will find the most valuable information in one place.
I do not want to leave you without anything here, so I put a table of the most important Texas Holdem odds in this table: