Texas Hold’em is the most popular and well-known variation of poker, but what if you never learned the rules? Keep reading for tips on card values, gameplay structure, and the big reveal. The Cards The goal of Texas Hold’em is to create the best possible hand, up to five cards, using two private and five shared community cards (the board). Your starting hand consists of only the two private cards, called hole cards. Some betting begins before the five community cards are revealed, so consider the cards you have. Some starting hands may put you off to a good start and mindset, so much so that they are considered power hands or even have nicknames! Keep in mind, however, that it is not necessary to utilize either or both of your hole cards if you are not happy with them. Hand Rankings Before learning the game’s structure, make sure you know how to craft a valuable hand. Texas Hold’em uses standard poker hand rankings, so study up on point values and sequences. Though you likely will not see a Royal Flush, you may be able to create more common combinations such as a flush, straight, straight flush, four or three of a kind, full house, two pair, or one pair. If two or more poker players reveal the same type of hand, such as a straight flush, then the player who holds the highest-ranking card wins. If you have a flush (all of your cards are the same suit), and a straight numerical sequence from 2 to 6, you would lose to someone with a straight flush ranging from 4 to 8, due to the 8’s higher value over your 6. Flop, Turn, and River: Revealing the Community Cards After the initial betting comes the flop, where the dealer places three of the community cards face-up to form the board. Depending on your cards and betting strategy, you may fold, check, call, or raise the bet. Players who are confident about neither their cards nor their ability to bluff may immediately choose to fold, or resign, to avoid suffering more losses later. Thankfully, in online poker, other players will not be able to use your facial clues to tell if you are bluffing! All other players in this round must place a minimum bet amount. Next comes the turn, or placement by the dealer of the fourth community card. Each player places another bet, but now has more options (again, depending on his or her strategy). If your turn arrives and no other players have made a bet, you can check, which saves you from having to bet or fold. If someone else has made a bet before you in this round, you can call. This will match the previous player’s bet, keeping you in the game with the minimum bet. Your final betting option is to increase the amount in the pot. If you are the first player to increase in any given round, this is called a raise. The players after you can then check, call, or reraise the amount. Your table may have lost a few players by this point, especially depending on the stakes. Placement of the fifth community card is called the river, following which all players must place their final bets. The Showdown: Displaying Your Hand After all five community cards are exposed, each player still standing takes his or her turn to reveal his or her hand. The community cards stay on the table, but each player displays their highest-ranking hand from any combination of their starting hole cards and the community cards. If the board is the best possible hand, with no hole cards used, then the remaining players split the pot. Limit: The Safest Beginning Betting Structure With betting increases possible in each round, Texas Hold’em games can grow a huge pot pretty quickly. Unfortunately, this means that players might bet all of their chips or even any amount up to the size of the game’s pot. This is fine for seasoned players, but it is better to build confidence and skills without risking it all on the first go. Thankfully, limit is the most common betting structure, utilized by casinos and home games alike. Limit games feature betting amounts in pairs, such as $1-2, $5-10, and $100-200. The opening, or pre-flop, betting limit is the first number, for example, $1. This limit carries into the next round, or flop. At this point, the betting limit switches to the second number, $2, for the duration of the turn and river rounds. Those who fold early are not out much, but neither is anyone who does not make it through the showdown. There are plenty of free and low-limit games online, so find one and start practicing! Texas Hold’em is a fun and exciting game, and practicing online is a great chance to learn the ropes and develop your skills along the way.