Texas Hold'em Strategy - "The Basics"

Article of this texas holdem strategy has been supplied with the compliments of the poker prophet.

The Cards

  • Each player is dealt two cards, face down
  • Those cards belong to that player and no other. Those are called 'hole' cards. As in, "I had two aces in the hole"
  • The rest of the cards are dealt across the middle of the table, face up. Every player shares those cards. They are called 'board cards', as in "There are three diamonds on the board"
  • Players use any combination of hole and board cards to make the best possible five card poker hand

Blind Bets

  • Two players must make a bet before the cards are even dealt
  • Because you bet without knowing what your hand is, the bets are called 'blind' bets
  • The player to the left of the dealer places the 'small blind'. It is equal to one half of a bet. So, if the first round of bets are $2 per bet, the small blind places a $1 bet
  • The players to the left of the small blind is the 'big blind'. They place a bet equal to a betting unit for the round. In our example, he would bet $2
  • The cards are then dealt


  • Before the dealer deals a new card, every player has to have bet the same amount
  • If there is no bet on the table, and you do not wish to bet, you can check . That basically means you want to stay in the round, but don't feel like betting. And since there are no bets in front of you, or no one has pledged more money to the pot than you did, you don't need to bet. So you check , and the action passes to the next player. If everyone in a betting round checks , the dealer flips over the next card. The players will see a 'free' card
  • If someone has bet, and it's your turn to act, you can do several things. If you do not want to match the bet, fold your cards. Let the hand continue without you
  • If you want to stay in the hand you can match the bet by calling . You put up as many chips as the people to your right have. Everyone has pledged the same amount of chips to the pot. The action proceeds to the player on your left
  • The thing to remember about betting is that the round doesn't end until everyone has pledged the same amount of chips to the pot, or folded their cards


  • Sometimes a player feels strongly about their cards, and wishes to bet more. So, they raise the bet. The amount someone can raise depends on the type of game you are playing (limit, pot limit, no limit), but the effect is the same
  • Everyone must now match this new amount of chips pledged to the pot. So, if I had bet two chips, and you raised it to four, the betting round will not end until I either put up two more chips, to match the amount of chips you pledged to the pot, or until I folded. Once everyone is invested in the pot equally, the betting round ends

Walkthrough of a Texas Hold'em poker hand

  1. First, be aware that many tables have betting limits. A minimum, and a maximum bet. For example, a 25¢/50¢ game means the minimum bet is 25¢. The maximum bet is 50¢
  2. One player is the dealer. The two players to the left of the dealer make "blind" bets. The first player makes a bet that is equal to half the minimum bet at the table. This is known as the "small blind". The second player makes a bet equal to the minimum table bet. This is the "big blind"
  3. Two cards are dealt face down to each player on the table
  4. The player to the left of the Big Blind begins play. He/she may choose to call (which means match the bet on the table), raise, or fold. This continues to the left until the betting round is completed
  5. The first three face up cards are then dealt at the same time. This is known as the "flop"
  6. The next betting round begins with player to the left of the dealer and continues to the left. If there is no bet on the table, a player may bet or check (which means to neither bet, nor fold - the turn simply passes to the next player). If there is a bet on the table, a player may call, raise or fold
  7. After the close of the betting round, the next card is dealt, face up. This card is called the "turn"
  8. The next round of betting occurs. For this and the final round the value of a bet increases to the table maximum
  9. After the close of the betting round, the final card is dealt. This card is known as the "River"
  10. The final betting round takes place. At the conclusion of betting, the best hand takes the pot

Points to Remember

  • A round of betting in Texas Holdem is finished when all players have acted, and contributed equally to the pot. In limit poker, there can be at most three raises per hand
  • During first two betting rounds all bets and raises are equal to table minimum bet
  • During last two betting rounds, all bets and raises are equal to table maximum bet