How-To-Play Tips for Texas Holdem Limit Poker

Tue, May 11, 2010


Want some tips on texas holdem? Just read about the basic rules, make sure you know your hand rankings and the way the game proceeds, and join an online poker room to watch some tables. Joining doesn’t even cost you anything. And you can play on practice tables there too, which is also free, and is recommended to beginners to get an idea of the speed of the game, and how to use the software. This article will outline the rules and teach the basic “how-to’s” of Holdem, enough to get you well started.

Texas Holdem poker on TV, that intense, high-wager game when one player suddenly says, “All in,” and pushes his entire stack of chips toward the pot, is always No Limit Holdem, which is the riskiest form of poker and very exciting. The players compete for huge pots, and are elated or crushed when the last card is laid down. In No Limit, a player can decide to bet all of his chips at any time. This is not the game you should really start when just beginning poker. If you learn Low Limit Texas Holdem, you can get used to making betting decisions when there are structured limits on how much you may bet, and thus get a better grasp on how much should probably be bet at different times.

So this is a guide for limit holdem. In a casino or online poker room, you’ll see tables offering games of holdem at lower limits such as: $2/4, $3/6, or $4/8. In $2/4, the $2 is the minimum permitted bet at that table. If you raise, you may raise only by $2 per turn. In later rounds, betting limits are doubled to $4.

How To Play:

In Texas Holdem, there are generally 9 players seated at a table. You’ll see a disk called the dealer’s button on the table in front of one player. In home games, the dealer is usually one of the players. In a casino the disk simply indicates the place where the betting round ends. After each hand, the button is passed one seat to the left around the table, so everyone gets a turn at the button (and all other positions). This is necessary, because the first two players to the left of the button have to place a small bet before the hand, and the revolving button makes it so all players eventually have to place those bets.

Posting the Blinds

The hand begins as the two players sitting to the left of the button each place small forced bets called the blinds into the pot. The first seat left of the button posts what is called the Small Blind (because these are blind bets, made before any cards are dealt), which is 1/2 the minimum bet for the table, and the 2nd seat left of the button places a bet called the Big Blind, an amount equal to the minimum bet. If it’s a $2/4 game, the small blind is $1 and the big blind $2.

When we say “Big Blind” or “Small Blind” we may mean the player at that position, the bet, or the position itself. “Posting” the blinds means placing them in the pot.

The Deal

Each player is dealt 2 cards face down (the deal begins with the small blind and goes clockwise around the table), and a betting round follows. The first person to act is the one to the left of the Big Blind. He is also called the UTG, or player “under the gun.” He may call the bet of the Big Blind by placing $2 in the pot; he may raise it by putting in $4; or he may fold his hand by pushing his cards towards the center of the table. Folding is also called mucking your hand.

Each player takes his turn going clockwise around the table until the action reaches the small blind. If no one has raised, then the Small Blind may call the Big Blind’s bet by placing $1 in the pot — since he has already contributed the other dollar. Or he may raise or fold, of course. The last person to act is the Big Blind, who has the option to raise his own bet.  If he doesn’t want to raise, he should “check,” which means he stays in the hand without having to put any more money in. The blinds act last before the flop, you should note.

The Flop

After the first round of betting is done, then 3 cards are dealt at once face up on the table. This is called the Flop and they are shared by all players — community cards. These cards are also called the board. Players use the board cards to try to form the best 5-card poker hand they can.

Analyze the Flop

You need to accustom yourself to “reading the board” quickly to:

1) Look for cards which fit your hand — Does the highest card in the flop pair one of your hole cards? This is called getting “top pair.” Or did it give you most of a straight or flush? If you didn’t get either, you should probably fold.

2) Notice what the flop provides for other players. A pair on the flop, or an A or K might present problems if you don’t have an A or K yourself. And watch out for two or three suited cards, or 3 cards to a straight. Someone else may have the rest of those drawing hands.

A round of betting follows after the flop is dealt out. For this round, the first person to act is the Small blind, if he has not folded. Then it is the Big Blind’s turn, and so on going left. The order of player turns changes slightly from the 1st betting round, it is important to note. Before the flop, the blinds acted last; in all later rounds they go first.

The Turn

A 4th card is dealt face up to the board. This card is called the Turn. A betting round follows this card.

The River

The 5th and final card is dealt to the board. Then a betting round follows, and the bets are now twice as much as before.


After the final round of betting, anyone remaining in the hand must turn his cards up to show the other active players. The best 5-card poker hand wins. This hand is formed by any combination you want to make of the 5 community cards and your hole cards. You may even use just the 5 board cards as your hand.

Important Things to Know for Each Stage of the Game:

Preflop. Here, you should only be entering the hand with good starting hands. Beginners should read about Premium Starting Hands and why they are the best — and sometimes the only — ones you ought to be keeping. AA, KK, AK suited are the top 3 hands and most people will raise with these whatever their position.

Position — The first 3 seats to the left of the Big Blind are Early Position. The next 3 seats are in Middle Position; and the other seats are Late Position. In Late position, you have some advantage because you get to act after most of the others. It is always a worry that someone after you in the hand will raise your bet.

After the Flop. If the flop cards don’t give your hand definite improvements you should fold. For instance, if you don’t pair with the highest card on the flop; or don’t get a 3rd card to a pair you already had; or don’t get 3 or more cards to a flush or straight, folding is a good idea. Especially for beginners. The chances of making (completing) other hands is far less.  If you started the hand with a low pair (6s or lower) and don’t get a 3rd from the flop, you should probably fold it.

The Turn Card. When this card comes, you are in the difficult straits of Holdem, which is often called a postflop game. The difficult decisions are made here and the River. If you are the first player to act, and you think you may have the best hand so far, bet. This will force the players after you to pay to see another card, so if they have weakish hands they may drop out at this point. If you had checked (thinking maybe of raising next time, or because you didn’t have enough faith in your hand to bet) then people after you would almost certainly have done the same. We want money in the pot, not draughts of indecision.

If you have only a pair at the Turn and someone raises, you should probably fold. If you have two overcards of different suits, with no draw to a straight or flush, and facing a bet, again you most likely should fold. Lots of money is lost by chasing that elusive card which will give you only a middling hand anyway.

At The River. As this card is laid down, all hands are made (or not). You have either caught that last card you wanted or you missed. If you missed, you should fold. There is little  grandstanding or bluffing all the way to the end in beginner’s strategy.

If you’re first to act, then bet, rather than checking. Again this forces harder decisions on the players following you, and forces some weaklings out. And good decisionmaking on your part is why you should be here — your odds of having the best hand are good. You checked the percentages.

And it’s worth mentioning to all players that if everyone but you folds before the Showdown — don’t show your cards. There is no need to do an endzone dance or show off. So do not give the other players information that they are salivating for: what hand you had that caused you to stay in and bet the precise way you did. If you don’t show, they don’t know. And you could do it all over again!

Showdown. Tells all, and the cards speak for themselves.

As a final tip, we strongly recommend that texas holdem beginners 1) keep studying hand rankings again, in order not to make silly mistakes, and 2) study odds charts to know how good are the chances of improving with different kinds of starting hands, at different points in the game.

, , ,

Comments are closed.