How to Play No Limit Texas Holdem

If you want to turn your no-deposit bonus into some serious cash, you’ll have to learn how to play No-Limit Texas Hold’em. This once obscure game has experienced a meteoric rise in popularity over the past decade and has become the most popular game in both online and offline poker rooms.

The good news about No-Limit Texas Hold’em is that it’s an easy game to learn. The bad news is that it’s a difficult game to master. The difficulty in No-Limit Texas Hold’em comes from the incomplete information you’re given. When you play No-Limit Texas Hold’em, you’ll know at least part of your opponent’s hand because those cards will be part of your hand too, but the two cards you don’t know will make all the difference. I’ll explain how to deal with this uncertainty later. For now, here are the basic rules of the game.

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The Button and the Blinds

The Button
Before the first hand in Texas Hold’em is dealt, the dealer has to determine who will be the last to act. To decide, each player is dealt a card face up and the highest card becomes the button. If there is a tie, then the suit decides. Spades is the highest ranking suit, followed by Hearts, then Diamonds, and finally Clubs. The button is the honorary dealer and they act last in the hand. After the first hand ends, the button moves one person to the left after every hand.

The Blinds
In every hand of Texas Hold’em, there is a small blind and a big blind. These players have to place a nominal bet before seeing their cards (hence the name “blind”). The small blind is the player immediately to the button’s left and will be first to act after the flop (I’ll explain what the flop is later). The small blind places a bet that’s roughly ½ the big blind. So if the big blind is $2, the small blind would be $1.

The big blind is on the immediate right of the small blind and has to place a bet equal to the minimum bet at the table. If you’re playing in a $1/$2 game, the minimum bet would be $2 so the big blind would bet $2 before seeing their cards.

The blinds drive the action of the game by making sure that there’s money to be won in every pot.

Once the blinds are posted, every player is dealt two cards face down. These are called your “hole cards” or your “pocket.” Once the hole cards are dealt, the first round of betting begins.
Since the small and big blinds have already placed mandatory bets, the first person to act is the person to the big blind’s left. This person is said to be “under the gun.” The action continues to the left until it gets back to the blinds. Every player, including the blinds, will have the option to raise, call, or fold. The big blind may also check if no one has raised the pot. Remember, since this is No-Limit Texas Hold’em, a player may raise any amount they want to as long as it doesn’t exceed the amount of money they have on the table.
After all preflop bets are called, the flop comes down.

The Flop
Once preflop betting is finished, the dealer will deal three cards face up in the middle of the table. These cards are known collectively as the flop. Before deciding what to bet, each player has to decide what the best poker hand they can make using the two cards in their pocket and the three cards on the flop. The betting starts with the first player to the left of the button. Each player may check if there is no bet, place a bet of any amount that doesn’t exceed all their money, raise if a bet has been placed, call a bet, or fold their hand.
Once everyone checks or all bets are called, the turn is dealt.

The Turn
After the action on the flop is over, the dealer deals another card face up in the middle of the table. This card is called the turn (sometimes 4th street). Each player can now use any card in their pocket and any of the four cards in the community to decide what the best five-card hand they can make is. Another round of betting begins and progresses in the same fashion as the flop.

Once everyone checks or all bets are called, the river is dealt.

The River
After all betting on the turn ends, the dealer deals a final card face up in the middle of the table. This card is known as the river (sometimes 5th street). Players now need to figure out what the best five-card poker hand they can make is using the two cards in their pocket and the five cards in the community. There is one final round of betting on the river where everyone can check, bet, raise, or fold.

After all bets are called on the river, we go to the showdown.

The Showdown
After all the bets are called on the river, the remaining players will show their hand. The winner is determined by the highest poker hand using any combination of the players’ two pocket cards and the five cards in the community. Suits are ignored in the showdown and tying hands will split the pot.

It might seem like there are a lot of steps in No-Limit Texas Hold’em, but it should only take you a few hands to get a feel for how the game is played. Playing well, however, that takes knowledge and practice. The rest of this site is dedicated to teaching you how to be a better No-Limit Texas Hold’em player so you can turn your no deposit bonus into a substantial amount of money.