How To Play

Learn how to play poker in minutes with our guide to the basics

Texas Hold’em Overview

Note: In order to continue playing and move on to the next round, players must have placed the highest bet for that round at any point in the round, or be all in, meaning they have placed all of their bets, whether they match the full bet or not.

How to Play Texas Hold’em

Hold'em can be played directly (with only two players) or with as many players as possible at a physical table, but online tables in particular usually have a maximum of six or nine players:

All community card poker games start with blind betting: mandatory small bets to the left of the dealer (small blind) and to the left of the small blind (big blind). The bets move clockwise around the table, one seat at a time, so each player sends blind bets once per hand.

Players are dealt two cards (face down) and five community cards (called the board) are dealt during the four betting rounds.

Hand Rankings

The hand rankings for Texas hold’em (highest to lowest):


Royal Flush

A straight flush, ten to ace


Straight Flush

Five consecutive cards of the same suit


Four of a Kind

Four cards of the same rank


Full House

Three cards of the same rank, plus a pair



Five cards of the same suit



Five cards of consecutive rank


Three of a Kind

Three cards of the same rank


Two Pair

Two pairs of matching ranked cards


One Pair

Two cards of matching rank


High Card

Five unpaired cards

For hand examples and more detail on the basic actions in poker, see Rules of Poker.



First betting round (preflop): Once the blinds and cards are dealt, the player proceeds clockwise from the big blind (the highest current bet) and each player has the option tocall (match a previous bet), raise (increase the bet) or fold (throw their hole cards away and wait for the next hand to start).

Note: In order to continue playing and move on to the next round, players must have placed the highest bet for that round at any point in the round, or be all in, meaning they have placed all of their bets, whether they match the full bet or not.

Once all players have acted, the flop (three cards) is dealt face-up for all players to use: Spade_10 Diamond_1 Diamond_4

The Flop

Second betting round: Betting starts with the first active player to the left of the button (the dealer position) for the rest of the betting rounds.  In turn, players may bet or check (Reject bet, move to action). If the bet is placed, all players must at least call to move to the next phase, which isturn.  If all players check, the turn card is dealt for free: Spade_10 Diamond_1 Diamond_4 Spade_11

The Turn

Third round of betting: the remaining players take turns again and decide whether to check, bet, raise (if the bet is closed) or fold. If more than one player remains after this round of betting, the fifth community card is dealt, i.e.river, is dealt: Spade_10 Diamond_1 Diamond_4 Spade_11 Diamond_8

The River

Fourth round of betting: players have one last round of betting on the river. If there is more than one player at the end of the hand, the hole cards are revealed and the player with the best cards wins the pot;

Of course, not all leaves make it to the clearing phase! If all but one player passes in each phase of the deal, that player wins and does not have to show his cards.

The Showdown

Example Showdown: using the board above Spade_10 Diamond_1 Diamond_4 Spade_11 Diamond_8, four players reach showdown. Player A’s hole cards: Spade_1 Club_4. This makes their best five-card hand two pair, aces and fours Club_1 Diamond_1 Club_4 Diamond_4 Spade_11

Player B’s hole cards Heart_1 Club_10. This makes a higher two pair, aces and tens Heart_1 Diamond_1 Club_10 Spade_10 Spade_11

Player C’s hole cards: Heart_13 Spade_12. This makes a straight Spade_10 Spade_11 Heart_13 Spade_12 Diamond_1

Player D’s hole cards: Diamond_11 Diamond_10. This makes Player D a flush Diamond_1 Diamond_11 Diamond_10 Diamond_8 Diamond_4 – the winning hand.

Chopping Pots

Multiple players can hold the same five cards when facing each other. They may have the same cards (making them the same pair or deck), or the deck itself may be the best five-card hand available (for example, the deck may be a Royal Flush - an unbeatable hand). In this case, all undecided hands win on the flop and the players split the pot equally;

Variations of Texas Hold’em

Texas Hold'em can be played with two players at a full table (usually a maximum of nine players) and with different betting rules (see No Limits, Fixed Limits and Betting Limits below);

The most popular hold’em variant, found widely online, is Short Deck (also known as Strip Deck or 6+ Hold'em), which removes all cards with fewer than six numbers. Playing with a 36-card deck changes the order of poker hands so that consecutive cards are better than a full house. In Short Deck, aces are still played in both high and low cards, so the lowest consistent hand in Short Deck is A-6-7-7-8-9;

The three-card hand is played in the same way as the two-card version, where any combination of available cards (now eight) can be used to create the best five-card hand,Pineapple Hold'em is a more common three-card game. In Pineapple, players are dealt three cards face down instead of two and discard one of them before the first betting round (preflop). The game is then played in the same way as Hold'em;

Crazy Pineapple It starts just like Pineapple, each player gets three cards, but they are discarded after the flop.

Any modification of the social card game can be applied to Texas Hold'em: for example, it can be played as a "double board" game, where two boards are dealt, a roll and a river, and the pot is split between the winners of both boards, or even as a high and low card game (although this is rare);

How to Play Texas Hold’em Games Online

There is no shortage of opportunities to play Texas Hold'em online. Many players are first introduced to poker by watching tournaments and no-holds-barred games on TV, and low-stakes online games or freerolls in this simple format are a convenient and cost-effective way to learn how to play;

WPT Global offers cash games with different levels of subscription (from small stakes) that can quickly introduce new players to the mechanics of the game and allow them to gain experience much faster than is possible in live play. Getting started is as simple as signing up for an account (in countries and dependencies where WPT Global offers its services) and sitting down with players from around the world anytime, anywhere.

When you learn to play online, you don't need to know how to count chips, shuffle a deck or know the size of the pot - everything is described, and when it's your turn, your options are presented and highlighted. In Texas Hold'em, as in all other games, practice makes perfect, and playing online can speed up the learning process at much lower stakes than in traditional poker rooms.

Of course, high-stakes poker is now also played on the Internet. The biggest cash games (and the biggest tournaments) are now more often played remotely than in person. There's nothing stopping new players from climbing the ranks online and taking on the best players in the game - Texas Hold'em is the most widely played type of poker, with the widest range of buy-in levels;