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How to Play

Texas Hold'em

Online Hold'em, a brief introduction

Poker has made its way from the back rooms of rusty steamships to the heart of modern internet culture. From side arms of the Mississippi stream to the core of the data stream that feeds our entertainment society. At the centre stage of the poker hype is, of course, the undisputed king of card games: Texas Hold'em Poker. So what's all the buzz about? How is the game played and what are the differences between the most-popular variants No Limit, Fixed Limit, and Pot Limit? Stay with us to find out more.

No Limit Texas Hold'em

By far the most-popular poker game of today is played by millions, online and offline, everywhere around the world. The greatest players compete in TV formats and even the unofficial world championship of poker, the main event of the WSOP, is decided by No Limit Hold'em. It's fast, it's highly entertaining yet it’s brilliantly simple. There is a famous saying that really sums it up perfectly: “It takes a minute to learn. And a lifetime to master”. You too can learn and master to play No Limit Hold'em poker at bwin.be. Check out the rules and how to play box below to find a detailed explanation or jump right in to the action.

Fixed Limit Texas Hold'em

The name says it all. As the only difference to No Limit games, where players may bet as many of their chips as they want, in Fixed Limit Hold'em the bet size is set in advance. While the bet size equals one big blind pre-flop and on the flop, it doubles to two big blinds on the turn and the river. Also the number of bets is limited to a maximum of four per round: bet, raise, re-raise, and final raise. In Fixed Limit games, it's predictably cheaper to see flops, therefore it's likely you will often face more than one opponent post flop. You will have to play a lot of your hands very differently than in a No Limit game. For example, it’s often unprofitable to play draws, since you will have difficulties getting the right value once you hit. Also, bear in mind that a chain of small bets can add up pretty quickly, so always try to plan your hands. While overall Fixed Limit Hold'em involves more strategy and mathematics, it's still a very beginner-friendly, easy to learn alternative.

Pot Limit Texas Hold'em

A bit of both worlds and a great challenge on its own – Pot Limit Hold'em combines the adrenalin aspect of No Limit with the strategy component of a Fixed Limit game. The rules are all the same as in No Limit, except for the betting structure. The active player is allowed to bet or raise a maximum amount equal to the current pot size but also less. For example: in a game of $1/$2, one player calls and we have a pot of $5. The next player may now put in up to $9, (since after his call of $2, the pot size is $7, he can now raise another $7). Early on in a hand, it’s fairly standard to see pot raises in order to build nice pots and to allow bigger value bets on later streets. Other than in Limit Hold'em, players can raise and re-raise as often as they wish. Bluffing as a tool to win plays a smaller role at earlier points in a hand. You will find it harder to push opponents out pre-flop since the pot limit restricts the pressure you can put on them. However small in the beginning, pots develop exponentially, and so does the drama in this great, often underestimated game.

Rules and how to play

If you want to learn to play Texas Hold'em with a more direct approach, the bwin.be client offers you the ideal options to jump into a game in play for free and play for real.

You are new to the game and/or want to get accustomed to Hold'em poker before you start playing? Then you will find it very helpful to read through the following section.

Dealer Button

The dealer button is a marker that is placed in front of the player who is last to act in that round. It's moved clockwise from player to player after every hand.

Small Blind / Big Blind

Before the cards are dealt, the first and second player to the left of the dealer button post the small blind and big blind respectively. The big blind usually doubles the amount of a small blind and indicates the minimum bet size for this table. Once the blinds are on the table, the following players can either call, raise, or fold.

Hole Cards

At the heart of the game are naturally the cards. In Texas Hold'em, every player gets dealt two hole cards, which means these cards are visible only to them. After the hole cards are dealt, a betting round begins and the community cards come off the deck.

Community Cards

The five community cards are dealt face up in the middle of the table, visible to everybody. The community cards (also called the board) are not dealt at once but in three separate phases: the flop, the turn, and the river. The flop consists of three cards, with the turn and the river bringing one new card each. Between these phases, players get the chance to bet.

Hand Buildup

With the two personal hole cards and the five community cards, every player has a total of seven cards available to them (after the river has been dealt). Out of the seven cards, every player puts together the best-possible hand consisting of five cards. Visit our poker school to find a complete list of possible hands and their values.


Before and after the flop, after the turn and after the river, players get the chance to bet. They can bet as much as they like in No Limit and according to the table limits in Limit Hold'em and Pot Limit Hold'em. If a player has raised, the following players can either call, re-raise or fold.

Ways to win

Every pot can be won in one of two ways: A) a player wins by betting and getting no call by other players or B) a player wins by showing the best hand when it comes to a showdown.

Split pots

Whenever two or more players have the same five card hand, the pot is split evenly between the players involved. If the pot can not be split perfectly, the odd extra amount will be awarded to the player nearest to the Small Blind position from a clockwise view.

Differences between Fixed Limit and Pot Limit

The only difference between No Limit, Limit, and Pot Limit is the betting structure. While in No Limit you are allowed to go all-in whenever it's your turn, Limit and Pot Limit games only allow you to bet a certain amount. Bear in mind that though this is only a small adjustment, it changes the character of the game significantly.

Cards dealt to each player 2 concealed
Community cards dealt 5
Number of betting rounds 4
Limits Fixed limit
Pot limit
No limit
Blinds or antes Blinds

Game Advice For Texas Hold'em

Play good starting hands

Do not enter the betting with any two cards! With ten players around the table, someone will have a better starting hand most of the time. When you enter the game with the second-best hand, your opponent is a favourite to win the pot.

The importance of position

In Texas Hold'em, your position remains the same throughout the entire hand. A player that acts after you will act after you all the way to the river. This is a great disadvantage for you. As a rule, play only very strong hands in early position. On the other hand, when you are in a late position, the advantage is yours to exploit.