Texas Hold’em Guide

Texas Holdem

You’ve probably heard of poker legends like Doyle Brunson and Amarillo Slim – two of the Texas-based “rounders” who would go on to bigger things at the World Series of Poker. But you may not have heard of the man who actually brought the great game of Texas Hold’em to Las Vegas. Felton “Corky” McCorquodale (1904-1968) was a Fort Worth native who introduced Hold’em to the California Club – now part of the Golden Nugget Casino – in 1963. Without Corky’s efforts, would poker be the global phenomenon it is today?


Maybe in a different form. But millions of poker fans around the world play Texas Hold’em at any casino or online thanks to Corky, and now that we have the internet, you can play Texas Hold’em for real money right here at Bovada's online casino. We’ll show you how to get in the game, and how to play like an original rounder yourself, in our ultimate online poker strategy guide.


Get Started Playing Texas Hold’em

If you’re not already a member at Bovada's online casino, the first thing to do before you can play Texas Hold’em (or any of the other poker games on the menu) is sign up for your free account. It only takes a few seconds to fill out our easy 1-page form; once you’re approved, you’ll have access to the Play Money games at Bovada's online casino. This is a great place to start if you’re brand new to this poker game. We’ll give you free online casino chips that you can use to play Hold’em without any risk, so you can get used to your surroundings while you’re learning the strategy ropes.


You’ll also need some kind of device to play Texas Hold’em online – either a desktop computer, or a mobile device (tablet or smartphone) with access to the internet. If you’re using a desktop computer, you’ll also need to download the Bovada Poker client online for free. This free program takes you to our online poker lobby, where you can see all the different games you can play. Mobile users can skip the download and log in through our home page, where our industry-leading web app will take you directly to the lobby where players can play any game they want.


Once you’ve tried some Play Money games online at our casino and you’re ready to take the next step, place your first deposit at Bovada Poker using any of the accepted methods; these include Visa, MasterCard and American Express, as well as Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash. Once your deposit has been accepted and processed, the money will be put into your account, and you’ll be able to play real money Texas Hold’em at Bovada's online casino.


By the way, don’t forget to collect our 100% Deposit Bonus when you start playing at Bovada's online casino's poker room. We’ll match that first deposit, dollar-for-dollar, for up to $1,000 in real bonus cash. The more poker you play in the first 30 days after your deposit, the more bonus cash you can earn. This extra money will help keep your bankroll flush while you’re learning how to play Texas Hold’em online. Other bonuses are available too, so check out our Promotions page to make sure you’re scooping up as much of that free cash as possible.

Texas Holdem

Texas Hold’em Rules

Chances are you’ve already played a little poker yourself, and the poker game you played was probably Texas Hold’em. But if you’re just learning how to play poker, don’t worry: We’ll show you the very basic poker rules here, and you can always brush up on your Hold’em game knowledge by consulting our FAQ and Help guides, as well as our growing archive of useful articles here at Bovada's online casino's poker game section.


Texas Hold’em uses the standard 52-card play deck of playing cards, with four suits (clubs, diamonds, hearts and spades) and 13 cards in each suit. The Ace counts as the highest or lowest card in the deck; then you have the King, Queen and Jack, followed by the numbered cards, Ten through Two – also known as a Deuce in poker. The main object in Texas Hold’em is to make the best possible five-card hand, using the standard poker hand rankings as follows:


Royal Flush (Ah-Kh-Qh-Jh-Th)

Straight Flush (7c-6c-5c-4c-3c)

Four of a Kind (5s-5h-5d-5c-As)

Full House (3c-3s-3d-2s-2c)

Flush (Kc-9c-6c-4c-3c)

Straight (Ts-9c-8c-7c-6h)

Three of a Kind (Qh-Qs-Qd-4h-3h)

Two Pair (Ks-Kh-2s-2d-9h)

Pair (7c-7h-As-Qd-3c)

High Card (Qd-Js-7c-3h-2h)


The hands near the top of the list are the hardest ones to make in Texas Hold’em, with the Royal Flush being the hardest of all – and therefore the most powerful. If two or more players have the same rank, the one using the higher cards wins; for example, a Pair of Kings beats a Pair of Deuces. If each player has exactly the same Pair, the highest unpaired card (aka “kicker”) is used to break the tie. Second kickers can be used if necessary, then third kickers and so on. If the hands are still identical right down to the kickers, it’s a push, and the players share the spoils equally.


The spoils in question come in the form of poker chips – virtual chips in this online game case. Each player in a poker game of Texas Hold’em will sit around a poker table, and will use chips instead of money to place their bets. Standard tables can seat a maximum of two, six or nine players (some live venues will use 10-handed tables). If players are playing cash poker, players will bring however many chips they want to the table, as long as you’re between the minimum and maximum buy-ins. If you’re playing a tournament, you’ll pay your buy-in plus an entry fee, and all the players will receive an equal number of chips to start with.


Every hand of Texas Hold’em begins with two players throwing some chips into the pot to begin playing, i.e. the big pile of chips in the middle of the table that everyone’s fighting over that is equivalent of real money. These two players (and the chips they provide) are referred to as the blinds. The large blind contributes twice as many chips as the small blind; for example, in a game of $1/$2 No-Limit Hold’em, the large blind is $2, and the small blind is $1. Sometimes, especially deeper in tournaments, each player will throw in an additional ante bet before each hand. The blinds and antes are what makes poker possible – everyone would just bet their very best hands and fold everything else otherwise.


After the blinds and antes have been placed, it’s time to get those cards in the air. Each player starts with two hole cards, dealt face-down; your poker cards will be shown to you and only you. Then it’s time for the first round of betting. Action begins with the player to the left of the big blind, and continues clockwise around the table. This player (known as “under the gun” or UTG for short) has three options: Raise, Call or Fold. The Raise bet has to be at least twice the size of the big blind, while the Call bet is exactly the same size. If the player hits the Fold button instead, they’re out of the hand without incurring any further risk. Pro tip: Get used to folding.


Once the UTG player has made their play decision, it’s on to the next player, and they have the same three decisions: Raise, Call or Fold. In this case, if the UTG player has already put in a raise, the next player (UTG+1) has to bet at least twice that amount when they hit the Raise button, while a Call will match that amount. Action continues like this all the way around the table until everyone gets at least one turn, and the action closes once the last raise has been called by everyone still in the pot – or when there’s only one person left who hasn’t folded, which means they win the hand and all the chips.


That’s the pre-flop stage of the hand. If at least two players are still in the pot, we move to the post-flop stage, which begins with the first three community cards (aka the flop) being dealt in the middle of the table, face-up. All the players can use these cards, along with their own hole cards, to build their five-card poker hand. Another round of betting takes place as before, but this time, the small blind (or, if they’re not active, the next person to their left) starts the action. The options this time are Bet or Check – the minimum bet is the size of the big blind, and checking is the same as betting zero chips. The following players can then Raise, Call or Fold as before if a bet has been made; otherwise, it’s still Bet or Check.


Has anyone won the pot yet at the end of this round? If not, a fourth community card (the turn) is dealt, and another round of betting ensues. Still no winner? Then the fifth and last community card (the river) is dealt, and there’s one more round of betting. Should there still be at least two players alive once the action closes, it’s time for the showdown – the player who put in the last bet or raise reveals their cards, then the caller(s) either show their hands if they have the winner, or muck face-down if they don’t. Note that “all-in” showdown scenarios where everyone’s cards are turned over can take place during any betting round.


Texas Hold’em Basic Strategy

Knowing the rules is the first part of building a solid Texas Hold’em strategy. The next is understanding the odds behind the poker game. With a little practice, you’ll be able to spot situations where you have a good opportunity to bet or raise, where a call is more profitable in real money, or when you should just fold. But in general, aggressive play is rewarded in Hold’em. By betting or raising, you can either win at showdown, or win when everyone else folds. Any proper guide to playing Texas Hold’em starts with aggression.


When to Raise

As a general rule, it’s good to put more real money in the pot when you’ve got the biggest chance of winning. If you have the nuts, i.e. the best possible hand in any given situation, putting more real money in the pot allows other players to call (or even better, raise) with worse hands than yours. This is how you’ll make most of your real money playing Texas Hold’em. It’s also good to raise with the worst hand from time to time, as you’ll see shortly.


When to Bluff

This is where the top poker players separate themselves from the rest of the pack, online or live. Getting opponents to fold better hands than yours is the other play to make money at Hold’em; the best times to do this are when you’ve got a drawing hand; that is, a hand that isn’t best right now, but might become the best when more community cards are dealt. Flush draws and straight draws where you already have four of the five required cards are usually the best hands to bluff with, either by opening the betting or by raising your opponent.


Putting the Odds in Your Favor

As mentioned earlier, knowing the odds for certain situations will help you make the right decisions at the poker table. For example, if you have a draw on the flop that can make both a Straight and a Flush (aka a combo draw), you should have more than a 50/50 chance of winning the pot at showdown versus a single opponent, even if they have the better hand right now. That means it’s probably time to put more money in the pot. If you have a basic Flush draw, or an open-ended Straight draw (like T987, where either a Jack or Six will complete your hand), your chances of filling up are more like one in three.


There’s plenty more to learn about Texas Hold’em poker game, but if you start with these card basics online, you’ll already be ahead of most beginner players. Give Hold’em a try today at Bovada's online casino's poker room using the Play Money mode, switch to micro-stakes Real Money games when you’re ready, and work your way up the ladder from there. Who knows, you might even be the next Doyle Brunson or Amarillo Slim – or Corky McCorquodale. Bovada Casino is here for all your online playing needs either be it a flip of a card or a spin of the reel.

Texas Holdem

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