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Learn how to play poker: Texas holdem hands and rules

Texas Holdem (Hold'em) is one of the world's most popular poker game. This article will teach you how to quickly master the rules and enjoy the game.

At the start of the game

When playing Texas HoldEm poker, every player is dealt two cards face down – these are called your 'hole cards'. Then there is a round of betting where you can Check, Bet or Fold. This stage of the game is known as pre-flop and what you should do is dependent on those hole cards, or starting hand. If you are unsure about the value of different poker hand combinations it may be worthwhile checking out our poker hand rankings page.

When all the betting has finished three shared cards are dealt face up in the middle of the table. This is called the flop.

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The flop

During the game

After this there is another round of betting, then a fourth shared card – called the turn – is dealt.

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The turn

There is another round of betting then a final shared card – called the river – and a final round of betting.

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The river

Your best Texas Holdem hands will be made by using your hole cards and the five cards in the middle to make the best possible five card poker hand. Not sure what the best Texas Holdem poker hands are? You can visit the poker hand rankings page for more information!

So, for example, if you have 9-9 and the shared cards are 9-9-A-5-2 you have four-of-a-kind. If the shared cards were J-Q-K-7-2 you would only have two nines.

Sometimes the best texas hold em hand is made by the five shared cards on their own. If they were 10-10-10-10-A and you had 9-9 your hole cards would not play as there is a four-of-a-kind of higher value already showing.

End of the game

There are two ways a hand can end.

One is when the players in a hand turn over their hole cards and the player with the best hand wins. This is known as a showdown.

The other is that someone will bet enough that everyone else folds. This is how most hands end in Texas Hold'em and that's the magic of the game – you don't always need the best hand to win.

Now let's recap...

Okay, let's go over how a Texas Holdem hand works using only poker slang and see if you can keep up:

  • Firstly, you are dealt your hole cards
  • Then, there is a round of betting
  • The players remaining see a flop
  • Then, there is another round of betting
  • You see a turn card
  • Another round of betting
  • You see a final river card
  • One more round of betting
  • Finally, the best five card hand wins

    Clear? Excellent. If not, have a read of our Poker Terms.

    Comfortable with the rules so far? Put your new skills to the test by playing one of our free texas hold'em poker games!