Beginner's guide to Texas Hold ‘em

texas hold em at the qg


The Office cigar lounge at QG has started a monthly game for its members and  their guests. Here is a quick review of Texas Hold'em for those who would like to join us in the future.  During the game we run specials on cigars as well as food and beverage from Clock Bar.

Texas Hold 'em, created in the mid 20th century, has risen and became the go-to game for both beginning card players and casino regulars. Its popularity has moved into the realm of being considered a sport while still remaining one of the more gentlemanly pastimes.

The thinking aspect of the game is, in fact, the reason why it has gained such rapid popularity. Almost nine times out of ten the house will win, but Texas Hold 'em has taken the power from the house. Because the game is based heavily on strategy, players can craft a game plan that removes the majority of the chance.  You are playing against another card-holding person so it becomes a battle of wits. Here are some of the beginning staples of Texas Hold 'em to help strategize your way to your next million.

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The hand rankings:

High Card

Absent any better hand listed below, whoever has the highest card wins. The highest cards, from lowest to highest, are Jack, Queen, King, Ace, which we abbreviate J, Q, K, A. The hand [K 7 5 4 3] beats the hand [Q 7 5 4 3] because king beats queen. If two players have the same high card then the second-highest card wins. So [K J 9 6 5] beats [K 10 9 6 5] because jack beats ten. If two players both have the same high card and second-highest card then you look at the third-highest card, and so on.


A pair is a hand with two cards of the same rank, like [9 9 5 4 3]. A pair beats a high card even if the rank of the pair is lower. For example, [2 2 9 5 4] beats [A K Q J 9]. All those high cards are helpless against a pair of twos. If two players have a pair then the highest pair wins. If two players have the same pair then you look at the highest card outside the pair to see who wins.


Two Pair

A hand like [4 4 7 7 Q]. Same disclaimers for breaking ties as for regular pairs


Three of a Kind

This is just what it sounds like, three cards of the same rank, like [5 5 5 9 8]. As with pairs, when multiple players have three of a kind then the highest one wins, and high cards break ties.



A straight is a hand with consecutive ranks, like [6 7 8 9 10]. An ace can also count as 1 to complete a straight where the other cards are 2, 3, 4, and 5, or as a high card to complete a straight where the other cards are 10, J, Q, K. But it can't count as both a low and a high card, e.g., Q K A 2 3.



All of the cards are the same suit, like 9♣ Q♣ 10♣ 4♣ 6♣.


Full House

A pair and a three of a kind, like 9♣ 9♥ 4♣ 4♥ 4♦.


Four of a Kind

Four of the same rank, like 3♦ 3♠ J♦ 3♣ 3♥.


Straight Flush

A hand that's both a straight and a flush, like 7♦ 8♦ 9♦ 10♦ J♦.


Royal Flush

A straight flush composed of the highest cards, such as 10♦ J♣ Q♦ K♦ A♦. But of course they don't all have to be in order. Q♦ 10♦ A♦ J♣ K♦ is still a royal flush.

The Play:

Post the Blinds

Two players each make a mandatory small bet before any cards are dealt. This ensures that there's something for everyone to play for if no one decides to bet.  This responsibility rotates around the table from round to round so that everybody shares the burden of posting the blinds throughout the game.  Blinds are raised though out the game not only speed up the action but also ad another element of strategy. 


The Deal

Each player gets two cards, face-down. These are called the hole cards. Players place their bets, or fold (bail out).


The Fold

Three community cards are dealt face up to the center of the table. Each player can use any or all of these cards along with his/her hole cards to make the best five-card hand.  The players bet again, or fold.


The Turn

A fourth community card is dealt. Hilarity, and more betting, ensues.


The River

The fifth and final community card is dealt. Followed by the customary betting.


The Showdown

Anyone still in the game (i.e., anyone who hasn't folded) puts their cards down face-up so all the players can see who won. The winner takes the pot, all the money that was bet during that round.



The last person standing will take usually take the full pot of the beginning bet.