One of the most well-loved poker variants both online and offline, Texas Hold’em Poker is everywhere you look.

Learning how to play Texas Hold’em is easy and straightforward. Here’s WSOP’s quick 5-step guide to learning basic Texas Hold’em Poker.

But first: a quick rundown of how the game works:

  1. The pre-flop Action (before the first cards are played)
  2. The post-flop action (after the first cards are played)
  3. The post-turn action (after a 4th card is turned upwards)
  4. The post-river action (after the 5th card is turned upwards)
  5. The showdown (the battle royale of Texas Hold’em games!)

Before we get started, it’s well worth refreshing yourself on the basics of Texas Hold’em, specifically what makes it different from other poker variants.

Some Basic Texas Hold’em Rules

Texas Hold’em is a little different from other poker variants, and here’s why:

  • Before the cards are even dealt, there are two forced bets: the small blind and the big blind. The player on the left of the dealer (in offline poker this seat moves one place with every new game) is known as the “small blind”, while the player next to that (two left of the dealer) is the “big blind”.
  • The small blind and big blind bets go into the pot before play begins.

If it sounds complicated, it really isn’t. Familiarizing yourself with the rules of the game as you play will help you make faster, better decisions when you’re in the middle of a Texas Hold’em Poker game!

As with other poker variants, there are three important events that make up the basis of the action:

Here’s a quick rundown of how Texas Hold’em is played, with some helpful beginner tips.

1. Pre-Flop

Before the first card is played (the “flop”) every player receives two face-down cards.

Players take their turns one at a time, starting with the player sitting to the left of the big blind (two to the left of the dealer).

The player making the first pre-flop bet is known as the Under The Gun player. This player can choose to fold (not play their hand in the round), call (raise or match another player’s bet), or raise (up the ante of the current bet).

The round is played clockwise around the table, with each participating player able to either fold, call or raise.

Once every player has played their turn, it’s the end of the round.

An important tip: if these seating names sound complicated, they don’t have to be. It’s worth it to familiarize yourself with the table positions and names of each seat, as some of the seats have better playing chances than others. The seat you sit in will also affect how you play both pre- and post-flop.

2. The Post-Flop

Just after the pre-flop round finishes, it’s time for the flop itself: three cards (the “flop”) are dealt face up and placed at the center of the table (these are known as “community cards”, as they are in full view of every player).

Here’s where the fun begins – the post-flop round. Every player can make the same actions as they did in the pre-flop round:

  • Check (do nothing)
  • Bet (make a bet)
  • Call
  • Fold
  • Raise

The first player to take a post-flop turn is the first eligible player sitting to the left of the dealer button.

3. Post-Turn

Once all players have acted in the post-flop round, it’s time for the turn card. This is where a fourth community card is laid next to the previous three from the flop. It means it’s time for players to act again.

As with the flop, players in the post-turn round can –

  • Check
  • Bet
  • Call
  • Raise
  • Fold

The turn is where things start to get interesting. Suddenly, players are forced to fold, bluff or call, and things start heating up.

That means it’s time for the…

4. Post-River

A fifth community card – the river – is laid out. And this round is the make or break for either winning or losing at Texas Hold’em.

This is the penultimate round of the game. Players who are still in the game have the option to –

  • Check
  • Bet
  • Call
  • Raise
  • Fold

The river is your final chance to make your best hand possible. From this point on, the game becomes a battle royale, with the winner being declared in the next round of play.

5. The Showdown

Here’s where things get taken up a notch! The showdown is where all of the action takes place.

The player with the best 5-card hand wins the game. Up until this point, players haven’t shared their cards with the rest of the players unless they’ve folded…but all that’s about to change.

If at least two players are left, the showdown is where these players have to reveal their hands.

This is where winners are made, and losers can take things hard. A quick tip from us: get to know the poker hand rankings, as if you call or raise and you haven’t got the strongest hand, or you’re less confident of your hand you could be setting yourself up to lose.

Types of Betting Structures in Texas Hold’em Poker

One of the most important parts of playing Texas Hold’em is knowing the types of betting structures of the game you’re playing, as this can massively change the gameplay and outcomes.

No Limit

The most common type of betting structure in Texas Hold’em means that you can go all-in (bet or raise all of your chips).

You should know that the minimum raise you can make has to be at least equal to the last bet made. If you can’t get to the previous minimum bet, you would have to go all-in.

Then, if another player chooses to raise, they must equal or increase the previous raise.

If that sounds confusing, then luckily when playing online poker these limits are all worked out automatically, but it still helps to understand how No Limit Texas Hold’em works.

Pot Limit

In Pot Limit Hold’em, as with No Limit Hold’em, players can bet or raise a minimum of the previous raise and up to the current pot size. In this type of structure, however, players can also make a Pot raise, which is a raise of the current size of the pot, plus the bet amount, plus the call they’ve made.

It works like this: if the pot is $50, the current bet is $15, a pot raise would be $50 (the pot size) plus $15 (the player’s bet) plus $15 (the player’s call), making the pot raise $80.

Fixed Limit

Fixed Limit Texas Hold’em Poker means you can bet only a certain “fixed” amount of times (hence the name). You’ll be able to raise a certain number of times throughout the game, usually, at a maximum of four across the flop, turn and river rounds.

In the pre-flop and post-pop rounds, the bet amount is known as the “small bet”. Any fixed bet after the turn and after the river is usually double the small bet, known as the “big bet”. Fixed Limit Texas Hold’em Poker is a really simple way for beginner players as there’s only so much that you can wager or risk losing if things don’t go your way.

When playing online all of these different types of betting structures will be calculated automatically so it’s much easier for you to learn the rules or concentrate on what you do best, which is playing Texas Hold’em Poker. There are no complicated calculations needed, you just need to call, raise, bet and let the computer do the rest!

A Quick Guide to Poker Hand Rankings

Remember, not all poker hands are created equal, and this is exactly the case when playing Texas Hold’em Poker.

Here’s a quick guide as to which hands beat what in a fast-paced game of Texas Hold’em Poker, in order of strongest to weakest.

  1. Royal Flush: this is a straight flush with the Royal cards all in the same suits, for example, A-K-Q-J-10.
  2. A Straight Flush: five consecutive cards all in the same suit, such as 7-6-5-4-3 of hearts.
  3. Four of a Kind: these are four cards of the same value, for example, 7-7-7-7-4.
  4. Full House: this is when you have three of a kind with a pair of another value. For example, you could have three Ace cards, and two fours (AAA, 44) making up your hand.
  5. Flush: when you have five cards that are all part of the same suit, but they don’t need to be in any consecutive order. For example, you could have a Q-10-8-6-2 of diamonds.
  6. Straight: if you have five cards that have consecutive values but aren’t of the same suit. For example, if you have a 2-3-4-5-6 mix of diamonds, hearts, clubs, and spades, this would count as a straight.
  7. Three of a Kind: just as with the Four of a Kind above, a Three of a Kind is with three cards of the same rank, for example, 7-7-7-4-2.
  8. Two pairs: two of two different ranks. For example, J-J-9-9-5.
  9. One pair: this would be a pair of cards of the same value, such as two Jacks (J-J-7-5-2).
  10. High card: the highest card you have in your hand, such as an Ace. This is the weakest hand possible, with five cards that don’t have any of the above combinations. With a High card, you’re placing your bets on your opponents’ similarly having weak hands, or bluffing.

Get Started Playing Texas Hold’em Poker Online

Playing Texas Hold’em is a fun, thrilling way to practice your poker skills! Play official WSOP Poker today for free with the WSOP app. 

Download it for free and get playing real Texas Hold’em Poker in just a few clicks.