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5 Card Holdem

  • A lot of Texas Hold 'Em strategy is based on the cards in your hand. You must be willing to suffer through a series of poor hands (e.g. 5-8, 2-6, 4-9) without getting impatient. The good hands will come, eventually, and you'll be in a better position to take advantage of them if you don't waste your chips trying to get something out of nothing.
  • The next highest-ranking poker hand is a straight: when all five of your cards are in the same numerical order (ex. 10,J,Q,K,A), followed by three of a kind (ex. AAA), and finally, a pair. The lowest value is a.
  • 5-Card Draw (Offered at: WSOP) Before the explosion of Texas Hold'em's popularity, 5-card draw was the most common form of poker in movies, television, and at casual kitchen table games. Each player is given five cards. There's one round of betting. Each player has the opportunity to draw.

Table Of Contents

A less common feature in casinos and online poker rooms than the likes of Texas Hold’em, Five Card Draw still has its fans — particularly among home players and video poker fans. Basic Poker game where you are given 5 cards, you select which ones to discard and you are given new cards. A payout table determines your winnings. I hope you enjoy the game. This game will help.

If you want to learn how to play Texas hold'em games, then you need to start from the basic rules and hands. That's exactly what you'll find on this beginner's guide to the game.

Texas hold'em is a simple poker game, but it can be daunting to get to grips with.

But don't let that put you off. By the time you are down with this beginner's guide to Texas hold'em, you will know:

1. What Is Texas Hold'em Poker?

Texas Hold'em is the most popular of all poker variations.

All of the marquee tournaments around the world (including those played at the World Series of Poker, the World Poker Tour, the and the European Poker Tour) feature the no-limit variation of this game.

Texas hold'em is so popular that is the only poker game many players will ever learn.

It takes a moment to learn, but a lifetime to master.

Discovering how to play Texas hold'em poker is not difficult and the simplicity of its rules, gameplay, and hand-ranking all contribute to the popularity of the game.

However, don't let the simplicity of the game mislead you.

The number of possible situations and combinations is so vast that Texas hold'em can be an extremely complex game when you play at the highest levels.

If you are approaching the game of Texas hold'em for the first time, starting from the basic rules of the game is key. Not only these are the easiest ones to learn, but they are also essential to understand the gameplay and, later on, the game's basic strategy.

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2. Texas Hold'em Rules

So how do you play Texas hold'em?

The goal of a Texas hold'em game is to use your hole card and in combination with the community cards to make the best possible five-card poker hand.

Hold'em is not unlike other poker games like five-card draw.

However, the way players construct their hands in Texas hold'em is a little different than in draw poker.

It's always possible a player can 'bluff' and get others to fold better hands.

  • In a game of Texas hold'em, each player is dealt two cards face down (the 'hole cards')
  • Throughout several betting rounds, five more cards are (eventually) dealt face up in the middle of the table
  • These face-up cards are called the 'community cards.' Each player is free to use the community cards in combination with their hole cards to build a five-card poker hand.

While we will see each betting round and different phase that forms a full hand of a Texas hold'em game, you should know that the five community cards are dealt in three stages:

  • The Flop: the first three community cards.
  • The Turn: the fourth community card.
  • The River:The fifth and final community card.

Your mission is to construct your five-card poker hands using the best available five cards out of the seven total cards (the two hole cards and the five community cards).

You can do that by using both your hole cards in combination with three community cards, one hole card in combination with four community cards, or no hole cards.

If the cards on the table lead to a better combination, you can also play all five community cards and forget about yours.

In a game of Texas hold'em you can do whatever works to make the best five-card hand.

If the betting causes all but one player to fold, the lone remaining player wins the pot without having to show any cards.

For that reason, players don't always have to hold the best hand to win the pot. It's always possible a player can 'bluff' and get others to fold better hands.

READ ALSO: Common Poker Tells: How to Read People in Poker

If two or more players make it all of the way to the showdown after the last community card is dealt and all betting is complete, the only way to win the pot is to have the highest-ranking five-card poker hand.

Now that you know the basics of Texas hold'em and you start to begin gaining an understanding of how the game works, it's time to get into some specifics.

These include how to deal Texas hold'em and how the betting works.

Basic Rules Key Takeaways:

  • A game of Texas hold'em feature several betting rounds
  • Players get two private and up to five community cards
  • Unless all players abandon the game before the showdown, you need the highest poker hand to win

How to Play

Let's have a look at all the different key aspects of a Texas hold'em game, including the different positions at the table and the betting rounds featured in the game.

The Button

The play moves clockwise around the table, starting with action to the left of the dealer button.

The 'button' is a round disc that sits in front of a player and is rotated one seat to the left every hand.

When playing in casinos and poker rooms, the player with the dealer button doesn't deal the cards (the poker room hires someone to do that).

In when you play poker home games with friends the player with the button usually deals the hands.

The button determines which player at the table is the acting dealer.

The first two players sitting to the immediate left of the button are required to post a 'small blind' and a 'big blind' to initiate the betting.

From there, the action occurs on multiple streets:

  • Preflop
  • Flop
  • Turn
  • River

Each one of these moments (or 'streets' in the game's lingo) is explained further below.

The button determines which player at the table is the acting dealer.

In Texas hold'em, the player on button, or last active player closest to the button receives the last action on all post-flop streets of play.

While the dealer button dictates which players have to post the small and big blinds, it also determines where the dealing of the cards begin.

The player to the immediate left of the dealer button in the small blind receives the first card and then the dealer pitches cards around the table in a clockwise motion from player to player until each has received two starting cards.

READ ALSO: Poker Positions Explained: the Importance of Position in Poker

5 Card Stud Vs Texas Holdem

The Blinds

Before every new hand begins, two players at the table are obligated to post small and big blinds.

The blinds are forced bets that begin the wagering.

Without these blinds, the game would be very boring because no one would be required to put any money into the pot and players could just wait around until they are dealt pocket aces (AA) and only play then.

The blinds ensure there will be some level of 'action' on every hand.

In tournaments, the blinds are raised at regular intervals. In cash games, the blinds always stay the same.

In tournaments, the blinds are raised at regular intervals.

  • As the number of players keeps decreasing and the stacks of the remaining players keep getting bigger, it is a necessity that the blinds keep increasing throughout a tournament. [*]In cash games, the blinds always stay the same.

The player directly to the left of the button posts the small blind, and the player to his or her direct left posts the big blind.

The small blind is generally half the amount of the big blind, although this stipulation varies from room to room and can also be dependent on the game being played.

In a '$1/$2' Texas holdem game, the small blind is $1 and the big blind is $2.

First Betting Round: Preflop

The first round of betting takes place right after each player has been dealt two hole cards.

The first player to act is the player to the left of the big blind.

This position referred to as 'under the gun' because the player has to act first. The first player has three options:

  • Call: match the amount of the big blind
  • Raise: increase the bet within the specific limits of the game
  • Fold: throw the hand away

If the player chooses to fold, he or she is out of the game and no longer eligible to win the current hand.

Players can bet anywhere from the amount of the big blind (the minimum bet allowed) up to the total amount in the current pot.

The amount a player can raise to depends on the game that is being played.

In a game of no-limit Texas hold'em, the minimum opening raise must be at least twice the big blind, and the maximum raise can be all of the chips a player has in his or her stack (an 'all-in' bet).

There are other betting variations in hold'em poker.

In fixed-limit hold'em (or just 'limit hold'em), a raise is always exactly twice the big blind.

In pot-limit hold'em (played much less often than the other variations), players can bet anywhere from the amount of the big blind (the minimum bet allowed) up to the total amount in the current pot.

After the first player ('under the gun') acts, the play proceeds in a clockwise fashion around the table with each player also having the same three options — to call, to raise, or fold.

Once the last bet is called and the action is 'closed,' the preflop round is over and play moves on to the 'flop.'

Second Betting Round: The Flop

After the first preflop betting round has been completed, the first three community cards are dealt and a second betting round follows involving only the players who have not folded already.

A check simply means to pass the action to the next player in the hand.

In this betting round (and subsequent ones), the action starts with the first active player to the left of the button.

Along with the options to bet, call, fold, or raise, a player now has the option to 'check' if no betting action has occurred beforehand.

A check simply means to pass the action to the next player in the hand.

Again betting continues until the last bet or raise has been called (which closes the action).

It also can happen that every player simply chooses not to be and checks around the table, which also ends the betting round.

Third Betting Round: The Turn

Call – match the amount of the big blind

The fourth community card, called the turn, is dealt face-up following all betting action on the flop.

Once this has been completed, another round of betting occurs, similar to that on the previous street of play.

Again players have the option to options to check, bet, call, fold, or raise.

Final Betting Round: The River

Fold – throw the hand away

The fifth community card, called the river, is dealt face-up following all betting action on the turn.

Once this has been completed, another round of betting occurs, similar to what took play on the previous street of play.

Once more the remaining players have the option to options to check, bet, call, fold, or raise.

After all betting action has been completed, the remaining players in the hand with hole cards now expose their holdings to determine a winner. This is called the showdown.

The Showdown

Players construct their hands by choosing the five best cards from the seven available

The remaining players show their hole cards, and with the assistance of the dealer, a winning hand is determined.

The player with the best combination of five cards wins the pot according to the official poker hand rankings. Bally 88 fortunes free slots.

3. The Hands in Texas Hold'em

These hand rankings aren't specifically part of Texas hold'em rules, but apply to many different poker games.

  • Royal Flush — five cards of the same suit, ranked ace through ten; e.g., AKQJ10
  • Straight Flush — five cards of the same suit and consecutively ranked; e.g., 98765
  • Four of a Kind — four cards of the same rank; e.g., QQQQ4
  • Full House — three cards of the same rank and two more cards of the same rank; e.g., JJJ88
  • Flush — any five cards of the same suit; e.g., AJ852
  • Straight — any five cards consecutively ranked; e.g., QJ1098
  • Three of a Kind — three cards of the same rank; e.g., 888K4
  • Two Pair — two cards of the same rank and two more cards of the same rank; e.g., AAJJ7
  • One Pair — two cards of the same rank; e.g., 1010942
  • High Card — five unmatched cards; e.g., AJ1052 would be called 'ace-high'

Players construct their hands by choosing the five best cards from the seven available (their two hole cards and the five community cards).

If the board is showing 95K3A, a player with the two hole cards 9 would have two pair (aces and nines) and would lose to a player who has 99 for three of a kind (three nines).

Learning hold'em poker begins with understanding how hands are dealt and the order of play as described above.

Of course, learning Texas hold'em rules is just the beginning, as the next step is to learn strategy which involves understanding what constitutes good starting hand selection, the odds and probabilities associated with the game, the significance of position and getting to act last during those post-flop betting rounds, and many other aspects of the game.

4. How to Play Texas Hold'em Games Online

Now that you know how Texas Hold'em works, it's time to put the theory into practice and play your first games.

The best way to start playing Texas Hold'em is to start from these free poker games available online and then move up to the real money action only when you feel comfortable enough to do so.

All the 'must-have poker rooms' below offer free games to practice online.

If you are completely new to the game, you should go for play money options, first. These risk-free games with fake money are an excellent way to familiarise with the different moments of play and the betting rounds.

The play money games are a great way to learn more about the hand rankings and begin to read the board fast enough to take all the right decisions at the right time.

After that, you should more to the poker freerolls. These are free poker tournaments with actual prizes on tap that range from free money to free entries into more expensive real money games.

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No limit 5-card draw is still very soft and it should be possible to show a profit with the following pointers. If you are not sure how 5-card draw works check out the 5-card-draw rules article here on

Raise First In

Similar to NLHE if we want to play a hand we should be coming in for a raise most of the time. The other players at our table will likely be limping a lot, especially if it's a lower limit game of 5-card-draw. Avoid the temptation to follow suit.
To every rule there are exceptions. It can be OK to limp behind or complete in the SB if there are 2 or more limpers already in the pot. It can also be OK to complete the SB vs the BB in a heads up scenario where the action is unopened and we are on the SB. Finally it's perfectly OK to check back hands in the big-blind depending on the strength.

Our Objective

Our primary focus when playing 5-card draw should be attempting to make three-of-a-kind. We look for decent pairs and then draw 3 cards hoping to make trips. Drawing three gives us statistically the highest chance to make trips. You will often see players at your limit holding on to one of their kickers and drawing only two cards, but in most cases this is incorrect.
Other players will be making trips with a reasonable frequency and we want to insure that our trips is better than their trips on average.
For example we are dealt K-K-5-2-A. We should hold on to the two Kings and discard the Ace. Many players are not aware of this and will discard only the 5 and 2 in this example.
It's not the case that any 3-of-a-kind is going to be good at showdown. Other players will be making trips with a reasonable frequency and we want to insure that our trips is better than their trips on average. This means there is a lower limit to which pairs we should play.
In most cases we should avoid drawing to flushes and straights. It may seem attractive to be dealt 4-to-a-straight or 4-to-a-flush, but we usually won't hit them often enough to make up for our preflop investment.
The exception is that there are already 2 limpers in the pot, in which case it's fine to limp behind some straight-draws and flush-draws, but gut-shots should typically be folded. We don't want to make hard and fast rules here but there are some exceptions vs passive opponents where we can get away with cold-calling these hands for one of the two following reasons in a no-limit-game
  • Our opponent just can't fold at showdown and hence we have great implied odds. (Note that this applies purely to no-limit 5-card draw games and it's nearly always going to be a mistake to call a raise preflop with a straight-draw or flush-draw in a limit game)
  • Our opponent plays extremely face up on the final street and we can pick up pots as a bluff. (Note that again this applies more frequently to no-limit games as our opponent is less likely to fold anything to a min-bet in a limit game)

RFI Ranges

Our raise-first-in ranges are dependent on our position, similar to no-limit holdem. As mentioned we want to be playing pairs which are likely to make the best trips.

5 Card Hold'em

  • UTG KKxxx+
  • MP QQxxx+
  • CO JJxxx+
  • BTN 99xxx+
  • SB TTxxx+ (however it's OK to complete some weaker hands with reasonable potential)


Since our opponents are going to be limping a ton we have a great opportunity to iso-raise preflop. Likely any JJxxx+ is strong enough for an iso-raise. In most cases our opponent is going to play face up on the final street, especially when he is out of position.
Pairs lower than JJxxx are referred to as “shorts” and are generally considered trouble hands in 5-card draw, so play with caution. These should often be folded preflop, but again it is somewhat villain dependent. We might be able to play some smaller pairs as limp-behinds and take the opportunity to turn them into a bluff on the river vs face up opponents.

The Draw

5 Card Draw Rules

Our draw decision is really based around the following. We'd rather make an above average strength hand frequently than a super-strong hand rarely.
  • If we have a pair we draw 3 and try and make trips.
  • If we have trips, we draw two and try to make Quads or a boat.
  • If we have a flush-draw or straight-draw we draw one and try to hit.
  • If we have total garbage (usually in a free play situation) we can hold on to cards above a Queen or Jack and replace the others.
Understanding these basic principles will allow us to hand read against our opponent based on how many cards they draw.

Hand Reading

Like in all poker formats the number-one tool for hand reading is our opponents' tendencies. But we can make pretty reasonable assumptions about unknowns based on the amount of cards they draw.
5 cards – Naturally this indicates that the player has garbage. Assuming he is in a free-play situation (I.e checks back BB) this can be normal. Assuming he has open-raised or cold-called preflop then it indicates he is a very weak player. There is no chance he has the odds to draw 5 fresh cards given his preflop investment, and he should have been folding preflop. You can mark this type of player with a coloured tag and assume that playing against him will be extremely profitable.
4 cards – Essentially the same as above. There is no situation we should be drawing 4-cards except in a free-play situation.

3 cards – In most cases this will indicate that the player has a pair and is trying to pick up three-of-a-kind. A very bad player might be drawing to a flush or straight with only 2 cards. It's always worth taking a note of this kind of thing if you discover at showdown that the player drew 3 cards and does not even have a pair when he shows down.
2 cards – Most frequently this will indicate that the player has trips so ultimately this is quite a strong looking draw. Again it's seemingly common for recreational players to have 3-to-a-flush or 3-to-a-straight and make a draw against the odds. So mark these guys as fish if you discover this kind of thing at showdown.
1 cards – Ironically this is slightly weaker than a 2-card draw in many cases. This indicates that the average player has either 2-pair or a 1-card straight-draw, flush-draw, or gutshot. Good players will end up having 2-pair more often. It's also possible that players have a hand such as 9-9-9-A-3 and decide to hang on to the Ace kicker even though it's statistically better to draw 2. This is not necessarily always a bad play however and has a deception element to it which can be decent at higher limits. (More on this under advanced tactics)
0 cards, Stand Pat – Be careful, this player is representing a 5-card hand. The minimum he is representing is A-5 straight.


In most cases we should be value-betting Jacks-up (2pair and better) vs one opponent. Assuming it's a limped pot we can likely value bet any 2-pair hand. Against multiple opponents we should at least have Kings-up to consider value-betting.
There are exceptions. If our opponent drew one he will very frequently have a busted straight or flush on the river, so there is not generally any need to value-bet. It's better to let our opponent bluff. If on the off-chance he did draw 1 with trips then we lose anyway with 2 pair.

Advanced Tactics

Naturally we don't want our draw to give away the strength of our holding against good players. So we should be mixing up the amount of cards we draw in some situations even if it is not statistically optimal.
Drawing One with Trips – We should occasionally draw one with trips. It's true we don't give ourself the best chance of improving this way but it can help our range. We will have trips in a spot where we are perceived to either have a 2-pair hand or a busted draw.
Our opponent will often call with 2-pair in this situation hoping to either beat our 2-pair or bluff-catch against our busted draws. In other words, drawing 1 allows us to represent a weaker range with a strong hand. Note that this only makes sense against semi-decent opponents. The average fish may not even care how many cards we draw, in which case we should always draw 2 with trips and give ourselves the maximum chance of improving.
Standing Pat with Air – It would naturally be an unbalanced poker strategy if we only stand pat when we have a strong 5-card holding. Since most guys won't use this line as a bluff it can actually be a really great way to print money until our opponents catch on. Imagine we get dealt a really terrible hand in SB vs BB for example. We can open-raise in an attempt to steal. If we get called, rather than drawing 5, we can stand pat and fire every time on the next street.
Our opponent will usually fold unless he improve to trips or better. And even if he has trips it won't theoretically be a correct call unless he expects us to be bluffing like this since we are representing a 5-card hand which beats his trips. Obviously we have to be careful not to over-use this line. If we stand-pat every hand it's going to become obvious pretty quickly that we don't have anything.
Drawing Two with a Pair – As mentioned we can rep a little more strength with this line than drawing 3 with a pair. Again it's not statistically optimal, but might help us to turn our hand into a bluff on the final street to fold out better pairs.

Using Position to Bluff

The best example of this is a situation where we are in position on the final street and both opponents check to us after drawing 1. The vast majority of the time they are going to have a busted draw for a few reasons.
  • They would lead for value if they hit a strong draw
  • They would lead for value a decent amount if they had 2 pair
  • It's overall pretty unlikely that they'll spike their draw
What this essentially means is that in some cases we can actually expand our defending ranges in position if our opponent has a tendency to play very face up.
The common 5-card-draw advice of “don't play straight or flush draws” (sometimes known as “come” hands), is somewhat equivalent to the NLHE advice “don't play SC's OOP”. But NLHE players understand that SC's can be played profitably OOP, it all depends on what occurs postflop.

So if our opponent has a tendency to go for hugely unlikely draws then we can defend much wider in position even with some weak hands ourselves. We might not get the pot-odds to defend the hand, but if our opponent simply check folds final-street every time he misses, our preflop odds don't matter.
So essentially the advice “don't play come hands” is very situational and somewhat outdated. FL 5-card draw was possibly a more common variant when this advice originated. In FL we have way less fold-equity on final-street and way less implied-odds vs bad opponents when we hit.

In Summary

The above pointers should be enough to achieve a positive winrate in at least the lower stakes 5-card draw games. There are very few professional 5-card draw players. Most professionals are playing NLHE or PLO. As a result we don't need a super robust strategy to beat the 5-card draw games.
However like any poker variant we should always keep in mind that the number one factor that has a bearing on our decision is how our opponents play and their tendencies.
Happy crushing!