Texas Holdem is the most popular variant of poker. If you ever see poker on television, it's most likely that you're watching a Texas Holdem game. The game is a combination of luck and skill and it's the variant used in the most important poker tournament in the world: the main event of the World Series of Poker (WSOP).
The Game in a NutshellThe goal of Texas Holdem is to get the strongest five card hand of the table (or make everybody believe you have that hand). You get seven cards to build that five card hand. Two of those cards are your own, and nobody knows what cards you have. Five cards are community cards and they are out in the open on the table for everybody to use.
By using the five cards on the table and the two cards in your hand, you can build the best five card hand by choosing any five of those seven. There's a specific order for the hand rankings.
- The deck of cards consists of 52 cards.
- The cards are divided in four sets of 13 cards with the suits: Spades, Clubs, Hearts, Diamonds.
- The order of the 13 cards is:2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-J-Q-K-A
- The Ace can be used as a "1" too.
One PairOne step better than High Card is One Pair. In One Pair you have two cards with the same value, while the other three cards are a mix in values. One pair wins from the High Card.
One pair going against another One Pair is won by the pair with the highest value. Should the pairs be the same, than the highest accompanying card decides who wins. So AA beats JJ. And J-J-9-8-2 beats J-J-6-5-3.
Two PairTwo Pair beats One Pair. Two Pair is exactly what it says, two pairs of two cards with the same value.
When Two Pair goes against another hand with Two Pair, the battle is won by the hand with the highest Pair. So A-A-2-2-J wins from K-K-Q-Q-J, because AA is better than KK.
Three of a kindA combination of three cards of the same value is rarer than the combinations mentioned earlier, so this hand beats them. Three cards of the same value, and two cards with different values makes a Three of a kind, also known as a "Set" or "Trips".
A battle of two hands with Three of a Kind is uncommon, but is settled along the same rules as discussed at One Pair.
StraightWhen you have a combination of cards with a different suit but with sequential value, you have a hand called "Straight". Remember that the Ace is both the starting card (the "1") and the ending card (coming behind the King).
A battle of Straights is won by the Straight with the highest ending card. So 5-6-7-8-9 is beaten by 8-9-10-J-Q
FlushEven though it might feel otherwise, but a hand with any five cards of the same suit is in fact a rarer occurance than a Straight. That's why a Flush beats a Straight (and all the weaker combinations too).
A battle of Flushes is won in the same way as the battle of Straights. The hand with the highest card wins.
Full HouseA Full House is a combination of a Three of a Kind and One Pair. So it's three cards with the same value, and two cards of the same value.
A battle of Full Houses - a rare occurance - is won by the better Three of a kind first and the better Pair second.
So J-J-J-A-A is beaten by Q-Q-Q-2-2, and J-J-J-K-K is beaten by J-J-J-A-A.
Four of a KindA rare occurance is when you can make a combination of four cards with the same value. This is called Four of a Kind, or often referred to as "Quads".
A battle of Quads is won by the higher combination.
Straight FlushThis is a combination of a Straight and a Flush, hence the name Straight Flush. This is a combination of cards with sequential cards and all in the same suit. This combination is very very rare.
Although very unlikely, a battle of Straight Flushes is won by the Straight Flush with the highest card.
Royal FlushThe Royal Flush is a special variant of the Straight Flush. A Royal Flush is a Straight Flush with an Ace as the highest card. The Royal Flush is the absolute winner, there's no other combination of cards that can beat a Royal Flush. But the chance you get one is pretty low.
A battle of Royal Flushes is not possible. But when the five community cards form the Royal Flush, all players still in the game get to divide the pot equally among them.