No Limit Texas Hold’em: Rules & Strategies
No Limit Texas Hold’em is often dubbed the Cadillac of poker and described as a game that takes five minutes to learn but a lifetime to master. Today, this is by far the most widespread poker variation out there and there are several reasons why this game, which was brought to Vegas in the mid-1900s by a group of Texas players, managed to garner such popularity. Besides being easy to learn, it is also filled with action and packed with adrenaline as players can put their entire chip stack on the line at any point in a hand. This was a big shift from the old games, where the betting action was usually tamer and more controlled.
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No Limit Texas Hold’em Rules
It is important to note that Texas Hold’em has many variations and variations in rules depending on the casino, poker room, or home game. It is always recommended to check the specific rules of the game before playing, to make sure you’re aware of all the rules and regulations
Texas Hold’em, when played correctly, can be a highly profitable and exciting game. Its simple rules and structure make it accessible to players of all levels and experiences. With the right combination of skill and strategy, players can turn a profit and enjoy hours of entertainment.
How to play No Limit Texas Hold’em
As mentioned in the introduction, No Limit Hold’em rules are fairly easy to learn and understand. The game has been designed in such a way that it is quick to learn and players can get started within minutes of learning No Limit Hold’em basics. Of course, there is much more to this poker variation than just the basic rules but more on that later.
Texas Hold’em poker is played with a standard card deck which contains 52 cards with no jokers (wilds). The game uses the blinds system, meaning that at the beginning of every hand, two players sitting on the left side of the current dealer will post a small and a big blind, respectively. The big blind is usually twice the size of the small blind.
Once the blinds are in place (and antes, in some No Limit Hold’em games), the deal begins with the player in the small blind position. Every player at the table is dealt one card face-down first, followed by another card, also dealt face-down. So, when the deal is over, all players will have two hidden cards known only to them. These are often called hole cards in Texas No Limit Hold’em.
Betting in Hold’em: Preflop
Once every player has two cards in front of them, the play can begin for that particular hand. On the first betting round, usually called pre-flop, the action starts from the player sitting right behind the big blind position. This player has three options available to them:
- Fold, giving up any further participation in the hand
- Call, matching the size of the big blind
- Raise to any amount up to the amount they have in their stack (all in)
Once the first player makes their decision, the action will continue to move clockwise, with every next player having the option to fold, call whatever the bet or raise that was already made, or make another raise to any size of their choice. In most games, the minimum size of the raise is double the bet in front of you, although this can vary.
Betting in No Limit Texas Hold’em: Community cards
Texas Hold’em is a game played with community cards, i.e. cards that all players get to use to make their hands. Once the preflop round is over, the dealer will spread the first three community cards in the middle of the table, face up for everyone to see. This is called the flop and constitutes the second betting round.
The action on the flop and future betting rounds begins with the player who sits in the small blind. If the small blind has folded before the flop, the action starts with the first player after that position. They have the option to either check, pass the action to the next player in line without investing any money, or bet any amount they like, with the minimum being the amount of the big blind. The next player can check or bet themselves (if there was no action in front of them), call the bet, or raise the bet in front of them to any amount they choose.
Once the flop action is over, the dealer will deal with the second community card face-up. This is called the turn. The betting happens according to the same rules described for the flop play. Finally, the fifth community card, the river, is dealt with, and the final betting round takes place.
The showdown: Determining the winner
If there is more than one player with a live hand once all the action is completed on the river, the showdown will ensue. At this point, all players must show their cards and let the card speak. The dealer will compare hands from all players and award the pot to the player with the best hand according to the hand rankings described below. If two or more players have exactly the same best hand, they will split the pot equally.
Hand Rankings in Texas No Limit Hold’em
No Limit Hold’em uses a standard high poker hands ranking system. This means that Aces are high and deuces are low. This was an important distinction back in the day as there were many lowball games where Aces were counted as low cards.
In Texas Hold’em, hand strengths are determined using the ranking system that’s quite common in many poker variations so most players will already be familiar with it. That said, for those completely new to poker, this is a quick breakdown of hands by strength, from the highest to the lowest.
- Royal Flush – A, K, Q, J, 10 all of the same suite
- Straight flush – five sequential cards of the same suite
- Quads – four equally ranked cards, i.e. J J J J
- Full house – trips plus a pair
- Flush – five suite cards regardless of the order
- Straight – five cards in a sequence regardless of suits
- Trips – three cards of the same ranking, i.e. 9 9 9
- Two pair
- Pair – two cards of the same ranking, i.e. K K
- High card (no pair)
In situations that have the hand of the same ranking, for example, the same two pairs, the fifth card, usually called the kicker is the determining factor in who wins the hand. If two players have a flush or straight, the one with the highest card in their combo wins. In the case of full houses, the player with higher trips wins (i.e. J J J 22 beats 10 10 10 A A)
No Limit Texas Hold’em Strategy Basics
If you’re looking to get started with the game the right way, you need to have at least some No Limit Hold’em strategy fundamentals. While this is a very complex poker variation, we’ll give you some main pointers to help you with your first steps into the world of Texas No Limit Hold’em cash games and tournaments.
The very first thing you need to learn is your starting hands selection, i.e. what hole cards you should be playing. As a beginner, you should stick to premium hands, such as big pocket pairs and big-suited aces. By playing the game this way, you’ll prevent any other player at the table from taking too much advantage even if they’re much more experienced.
Texas Hold’em No Limit position is also very important. When deciding whether to play a hand or not, you should be more inclined to call when you’re the one on the dealer button or close to it. If you’re in the early position, you should be much more conservative as you’ll often have to play out of position after the flop, which is much harder.
The best way to learn is by getting involved in some free or very low-stakes No Limit Hold’em online poker games. By doing so, you’ll get the feel for the game and see how you like it without risking too much or any money in the process. With a bit of luck at the start, you could even build your poker bankroll from scratch.
The Variants of Texas Hold’em Poker
There are several different types of this game variation. Although they all use the same main Texas Hold’em poker rules, there are some differences, primarily when it comes to betting. Knowing how you can bet in poker and what your options have a huge influence on the overall strategy, so these variations, albeit similar on the surface, are quite different.
Here are some of the most popular variations of No Limit Texas Hold’em:
Pot Limit Texas Hold’em
In Pot Limit Hold’em, the maximum bet size is defined by the size of the pot. While this is still a big bet game, players can’t bet whatever amount they like. If the size of the bet is larger than the size of the pot, it won’t be allowed. Some tournaments are played with a pot limit and there are some cash games that often employ the pot limit rule before the flop.
Fixed Limit Texas Hold’em
Fixed Limit Hold’em is actually one of the oldest variations of the game. In this particular format, bets on all streets (flop, turn, and river) are fixed, i.e. players can only bet and raise to certain predefined amounts. There is also a cap on the total number of bets that are allowed to go into the pot on each street.
Short Deck Texas Hold’em (6+)
This variation is played with a shorter deck, typically with cards ranked 6 and above. This changes the dynamics of the game and can lead to more action and bigger pots.
Heads-Up Texas Hold’em
This variation is played with only two players at the table. It requires a different strategy and mindset as players must adapt to the unique dynamics of playing against a single opponent.
All of these variations of Texas Hold’em offer a unique and exciting experience for players. No Limit Texas Hold’em is the most popular and widely played, but for those looking for a new challenge or a change of pace, the other variations can be a great option. It is important to research and understands the rules and strategies of each variation before playing, in order to maximize your chances of success.
The History of Texas Hold’em
Despite the huge popularity it enjoys, not much is known about the history of Texas Hold’em. According to the best information available today, this card game originated in Texas in the early 1900s as another poker variation but its beginnings were quite modest. It was played behind closed doors in bars and home games but during the first few decades after being invented, it didn’t really catch up.
Hold’em in Las Vegas
In the mid-1960s, Hold’em poker found its way inside the casinos in Las Vegas. It was introduced by a group of players, including two of the game’s legends and card sharks – Doyle Brunson and Amarillo Slim. The game was quite different from other forms of poker that were available at the time, especially because of its particular betting structure, allowing for more action than most draw games that were popular at the time. In those early days, though, the game was simply called Hold’em.
Although it had clear potential to become a big hit among the players, Texas Hold’em poker game didn’t explode immediately. For a while, Golden Nugget was the only casino in Vegas to spread this variation. Back in those days, Golden Nugget wasn’t the venue it is today, though, and it didn’t attract very many rich clients. Because of this, it would take some time before the game found its way into other card rooms.
Birth of the World Series of Poker
In 1970, Jack and Benny Binion launched the World Series of Poker after acquiring rights for the Annual Gambling Fraternity Convention. They changed the name of the event and moved it to their legendary Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas. This would turn out to be the first major breakthrough for Texas Hold’em.
Namely, it was decided that the main event of the Series should feature Hold’em instead of any other poker variation popular at the time and this was the beginning of the game’s claim to fame that would continue in the years to come. From the very first year to this very day, players in the Main Event play Texas Hold’em poker and this isn’t likely to change any time soon.
Over the coming years, the interest in the World Series of Poker continued to grow. To start, it was a small event, attracting only a handful of players. However, in the next couple of decades, the number of entrants surged to over 200, paving the path for the latest poker variation to obtain the huge popularity it enjoys today.
World Series of Poker 2003
Over the coming years, the game continued to gain more and more momentum but it was still just another variation that some of the players enjoyed. It would take a special kind of event for Hold’em to really come to the top and leave all other games behind.
By the early 2000s, the World Series of Poker has become a staple event for poker fans all over the globe so this alone helped a lot. The fact that poker has started to receive a lot of TV coverage, as well as another important feature in turning Texas, Hold’em No Limit into what it is today. But, the Main Event of the 2003 World Series of Poker would change things forever.
It was the year when Chris Moneymaker, a regular Joe who qualified for his seat online, won the main Event and took home USD 1,000,000. Not only did he win but to get the victory, he defeated Sammy Farha in the heads-up battle for the title. Farha was well-known to poker fans from all over the world as he regularly played on High Stakes Poker, one of the best poker shows to date.
The Poker Boom
This unlikely victory created a chain reaction, unlike anything the poker world has seen before. Since the Main Event had TV coverage, the whole world could witness Moneymaker’s moment of fame and, all of a sudden, everyone wanted to play. The poker dream was born, giving everyone hope that they could be the next in line to take home the prestigious title and the huge prize money that came with it.
If the Main Event happened to feature Stud Poker, Hold’em would likely never gain the momentum it had. But, since it was Texas Hold’em that was played, the game basically became the synonym for poker. If someone was talking about poker, they were likely talking about Hold’em, even if there are at least a dozen of other game variations out there.
That’s the history of the game in a nutshell. Today, Holdem is the best and the most popular poker variation by far, played in all major tournaments and many high-stakes cash games. Of course, these days there are other card games as well competing for popularity but they all still have some catching up to do.
What is No Limit Hold’em & other FAQs