no-limit texas hold'em rules

How to Play No-Limit Texas Hold’em | Rules for Poker Beginners

For the past two decades, No-Limit Texas Hold’Em (NLHE) has increased dramatically in popularity. In addition to being a relatively easy game to learn, there is also the potential for some huge pots and exciting games. To become a big winner, however, you must have a thorough understanding of the game and No-Limit Texas Hold’Em rules.

This article will cover:

Pull up a chair, get your notebook handy, and let’s go.

Blinds and the button in no-limit Texas Hold’Em rules

NLHE is played with a maximum of ten players. One player is the “dealer” and the dealer button is placed in front of him/her. The player to the immediate left of the dealer is the Small Blind (SB). The player to the immediate left of the SB is the Big Blind (BB).

no-limit texas hold'em rules

The blinds positions are so named because these players are required to put in their money before any cards have been dealt—essentially, they’re putting their money in blind. These forced bets—as well as antes in certain NLHE games—act to ensure that there is something in each pot and to stimulate others to act.

Before the flop, the BB is the last to act. The player to his/her immediate left is the first to act and is said to be “under the gun” (UTG). After the flop, the SB is the first to act, and the dealer is last to act. Position is critical and having the dealer button provides a player an advantage because s/he sees what everyone else has done before having to act.

The button moves around the table with each hand, thus giving every player the opportunity to be dealer, SB, and BB.


NLHE’s objective is to make the best five-card hand from the cards in your hand and on the board.

Once the blinds are posted, the actual dealer—not the player with the button—proceeds to deal each player two face-down cards. These are called the “hole” cards, and each player can only see his/her hole cards. Your best Texas Hold’Em hand will use the five community cards and your hole cards to make the best possible five-card poker hand based on these poker hand rankings.

no-limit texas hold'em rules

Community cards

According to No-Limit Texas Hold’Em rules, the community cards are dealt in phases: the flop, turn, and river. Following each deal, another round of betting occurs. If the dealer dealt all five community cards at once, there would be less betting and much smaller pots. With each board card, you need to determine if they help or hurt your hand.

Your hand’s value can change drastically as the board cards are dealt. Remember, the winner will have the best possible five-card hand, so it is critical to keep track of your hand’s strength. While doing so, it is also important to consider whether the community cards might have improved your opponents’ hands as well. Thus, don’t look only at absolute value, look at the relative value as well. Determining the likelihood that one of your opponents may have a stronger hand than yours is key to NLHE success.

For example, if your hole cards are:
no-limit texas hold'em rules

And you opponent has:

no-limit texas hold'em rules

And the five community cards are:
no-limit texas hold'em rules

You—and your opponent(s)—can use one, both, or neither of your hole cards to make your best possible five-card hand.

In this example, you have three threes (three-of-a-kind): 

no-limit texas hold'em rules

While your opponent has a pair of sixes:
no-limit texas hold'em rules

Three-of-a-kind beats a pair. You win!

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Betting rounds

Perhaps the most important aspect of No-Limit Texas Hold’Em rules is what to do during betting rounds. In NLHE, there are four betting rounds: preflop (after each player has received his/her hole cards) and after the flop, turn, and river.

When it is your turn to act, per No-Limit Texas Hold’Em rules, you have the option to:

  • Check—if you are the first to act and don’t want to bet, you can just check your hand to the next player.
  • Bet—if nobody has bet before it is your turn to act, you can make the first bet. In NLHE, it must be at least the amount of the big blind with no maximum—hence, “no-limit.”
  • Call—Calling means matching the previous bet.
  • Raise—To raise, you increase the amount of a preexisting bet. The minimum raise is the size of the previous bet, and there are no maximum bets. The maximum bet is your entire chip stack.

Once the betting for a particular round closes, the dealer takes the top card and places it face-down on the table into the “muck” or discarded cards. This is called “burning” the card and has its origins in the early days of poker to prevent cheating. The dealer then deals three cards face-up: the flop.

After the flop betting round is closed, the dealer burns another card and then deals the turn, or “fourth street.” Betting commences and when everyone is finished, the dealer burns another card and then deals the river, or “fifth street.” The final round of betting occurs before the “showdown”—when the players who are still in the hand show their cards to determine the winner.

For a more in-depth discussion of Hold’Em betting rules—both no-limit and limit—check out this article.

no-limit texas hold'em rules

What do the dollar values mean in a NLHE cash game?

I’m sure you’ve heard a player talk about a $1/$2 NLHE cash game. But what does that mean? Quite simply, those numbers refer to the game’s stakes. In other words, a $1/$2 game means the small blind is $1 and the big blind is $2. At the higher stakes, a $300/$600 game means the small blind is $300 and the big blind is $600.

In tournaments, the blinds systematically increase at predetermined levels that commonly last 15-30 minutes.

NLHE versus Limit Hold’Em

The major difference between Limit Texas Hold’Em and N0-Limit Texas Hold’Em rules is that a player may wager all of his/her chips at any time—when it is his/her turn to act, of course—in a NLHE game. This is called “shoving” or going “all in.” If another player wishes to call the player’s all-in but cannot cover the bet, s/he can still call the bet with as many chips as s/he has.

If another player chooses to call also—and has enough chips to cover the all-in—then the dealer creates a side pot where the person with the fewest chips is eligible to win the main pot, while the other players who are still in the hand are eligible for the side pot. In some cases, there may be multiple side pots depending on the amount each player has.

Another difference is that in limit Hold’Em, a four-raise cap limits each round of betting. In NLHE, however, players can continue to bet and raise until one or more players has gone all-in.

There you have it—the basics of No-Limit Texas Hold’Em rules. For more information, please check out our strategy articles to help your play and get you those massive pots!

Until next time.

Note: “Our preflop charts are the most efficient and absolute quickest way to improve your poker game. Download them and use them… they work!” – Doug Polk
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About the Author

Natalie Faulk

Natalie Faulk is a Las Vegas-based freelance writer/blogger and the author of several books. She is an avid low-stakes (for now) poker player and huge Vegas Golden Knights fan.

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