Rules for Playing Texas Hold Em Poker Online

Texas Hold Em Poker is the most common poker game played online. The poker rooms featured in our poker sites guide offer a variety of Hold Em variants to choose from including fixed-limits, pot-limit, and no-limit games. Basic rules for playing Texas Hold Em are summarized in the next section.

For in-depth Hold Em Poker rules and strategies, here are two of the best books on the market:

Winning Low-Limit Hold Em - by Lee Jones (for beginners)

Hold Em Poker for Advanced Players, by David Sklansky

Texas Hold Em Poker!

Basic Texas Hold Em Poker Rules

The following are basic Texas Hold Em Poker rules for most online poker rooms. You should also read any special rules in effect at your poker room, and pay particular attention to the betting limits for each game.

Texas Hold Em (or "Hold Em") is a poker game in which each player receives two cards dealt face down (the hole cards), while five cards are dealt face up on the table. Each player plays his best five cards using any combination of his two downcards and the five common cards on the table. The best five card poker hand among those remaining in contention for the pot wins.

Betting starts after the two unique hole cards are dealt to each player. The next three cards (called "flop cards" or "the flop") are then dealt in the center of the table. These cards are community cards and are part of each active player's hand. A second round of betting then occurs. The fourth community card (called the "turn card") is then dealt in the center of the table, followed by a third round of betting.

The final community card (called the "river card") is dealt in the center of the table, followed by the fourth and final round of betting. In Texas Hold Em, the turn card and river cards are also community cards used by all players. When all bets have been equalized, the "showdown" (see below) takes place among the remaining players and the winner is declared. If only one player remains at the end of any round, there is no showdown and the pot is awarded to the remaining player. A player uses the best five cards among his hole cards and the community cards in order to determine his hand.

"Check and Raise" is allowed in Texas Hold Em, except on the first round, when a player (on his turn) must either bet or fold. In online Hold Em games, the maximum and minimum allowable wagers are shown on the screen, depending on the limits in effect for your game and table (e.g., $4-$8 Fixed Limit game with $2/$4 Blinds). It will also tell you the buy-in (the minimum buy-in is generally 20 times the size of the big blind in Texas Hold Em).

Fixed-Limit Texas Hold Em: At a $4-$8 table, the limit on any bet is $4 on the first two betting rounds and $8 on the final two betting rounds. Online poker rooms normally allow a bet and three raises in each round. Each bet or raise is at the limit for that round. Therefore, the first player to bet in the first round of betting has the choice of folding or betting $4. If someone has made a bet, the next player has the choice of folding, calling the $4, or raising $4 (making the total bet at that point $8). If there has been a raise, the next player has the choice of folding, calling the $8, or raising $4 (making the total bet at that point $12).

Pot-Limit Texas Hold Em: The minimum bet at the start of each round is the amount of the big blind wager. The maximum bet is the amount of money currently in the pot, calculated as the pot size after a player calls all existing wagers. For example, if there is $12 in the pot and Player 1 wagers $6, then Player 2 could call $6 or raise up to an additional $24. That is, when Player 2 puts his $6 into the pot, the pot becomes $24. He could just call the $6, or raise any amount from $6 to $24. Therefore, he could put in a maximum of $30. During the course the round of betting, a bet size cannot decline (a bet or raise must equal or exceed the preceding bet or raise). If someone bets or raises $6, then the next player's minimum raise would be $6. You could not, for example, raise a $6 bet by $3. The only exception is that a player can always go "all in" (wager all of his remaining chips), even if that amount would cause you to make a smaller raise than that normally required.

No-Limit Texas Hold Em: The minimum bet at the start of each round is the amount of the big blind wager. The maximum bet is a player's table stake (the amount of money a player currently has on the table). During a round of betting, a bet size cannot decline (a bet or raise must equal or exceed the preceding bet or raise). If a player bets or raises $6, then the next player's minimum raise would be $6. Any player can go "all in" (wager all his chips) at any point during the hand. A player is never forced to call more than the amount of chips he has on the table. Therefore, no player can be "bet out" of a hand. If one player runs out of chips during a hand, and more than one opponent remains with more chips than that player, then a side pot is created. An "all-in" player can win from another player only as much as he is in for. This concept also applies to Pot-Limit Hold Em games (see above).

Blinds: The small blind is a forced bet made by the player to the immediate left of the dealer. The big blind is a forced bet made by the player to the immediate left of the small blind. When playing poker online, the limits and blinds in effect are normally shown on the screen.

When all the betting is done, if more than one player is still in for the pot, the showdown determines who wins the game (see Poker Hand Rankings). The last player to open or raise is required to show cards first, and anyone else can fold. Players who elect to fold do not have to show their cards.

Top Texas Hold Em Poker Sites