No Limit Hold’em: Rules & Strategies
No Limit 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.
Top 5 Poker Sites with No Limit Hold’em
How to play No Limit 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 from 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 on 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 preflop, 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 an 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 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, action starts with the first player after that position. They have the option to either check, passing 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 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, and the final betting round takes place.
The showdown: Determining the winner
If there are more than one player with alive hand once all the action is completed on the river, the showdown will ensue. At this points, 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 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 a 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. 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
- Straigth – 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 the situations have the hand of the same ranking, for example, the same two pair, 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 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.
What is No Limit Hold’em & other FAQs
No Limit Hold’em is the most popular poker variation in existence today. It is an action-packed game with several betting rounds, which makes it so popular with the players. Texas Hold’em is also fairly easy to learn, which appeals to players new to the game.
Origins of the game aren’t exactly clear. However, we do know it was introduced to Las Vegas in the mid-1900s by the group of Texan players including famous Doyle Brunson. Back in the day, the game was simply called Hold’em and the “Texas” prefix was only added later.
Hold’em is played with a standard deck of 52 cards with no wilds. All players are dealt two cards to being with (hole cards) and two players will post blinds (big and small). These initial bets are there to drive the action. The betting happens across four streets: preflop, flop, turn, and river.
The term “turbo” when used to describe Hold’em usually refers to tournaments where the structure of the blinds is such that levels move quickly. What this means is that players have to play more aggressively to make sure their chip stack stays in good shape in relation to the blinds.
Short deck Hold’em is a new variation of the game played with a “shortened” deck. Cards between 2 and 5 are removed from play, which creates more action and somewhat changes the strategy and rules a bit. It is essentially the same game but with some interesting twists and turns.