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February 9, 2024

How Many Decks Are in Texas Hold’em—Basics of Poker Explained

One of the reasons Texas hold’em is the most popular poker variant is the fact that it’s easy for beginners to learn but leaves plenty of room for improvement. Even though it’s based on luck, it requires you to possess both excellent deduction skills and a strong Texas hold’em strategy.

A good place to start is learning the basics, which includes knowing how many decks there are in Texas hold’em and how this affects the game.

How Many Decks Are Used in Texas Hold’em?

Source: Jack Hamilton

Texas hold’em, and other variants of poker, are all played with one deck of cards. Excluding jokers, every standard deck consists of 52 cards.

The maximum number of participants that can play poker with one deck is 22, but there will typically be 2–10 players at one casino table. If there are too many players involved, they will split into two or more poker tables rather than use multiple decks.

A common misconception is that poker is played with multiple card decks, which might stem from physical casinos where dealers often use two alternating decks per table. The dealer would make sure only one deck is used per hand while the other one is placed in the shuffle machine.

When a dealer manually shuffles the cards, there are no alternations, and one deck is used both for playing and shuffling.

What Are the Main Rules of Texas Hold’em?

Before forming and perfecting a Texas hold’em strategy, you need to understand the basic rules of the game.

Texas hold’em is usually played between a dealer and up to ten other players, each sitting around a physical or virtual casino table. After the initial bets are placed, each player is dealt two hole hands only visible to them. The game is then played in four different rounds. During each round, players will either fold their hand or participate in the betting process with the goal of reaching a winning hand or bluffing their way to the pot.

The four stages of Texas hold’em are:

  1. Pre-flop
  2. Flop
  3. Turn
  4. River

Pre-flop

In order for the game of Texas hold’em to begin, two players sitting clockwise of the dealer have to place the so-called “blind” bets one after the other, which are:

  • Small blind—This is the first “forced” bet, making sure that no player can participate in the game “for free”
  • Big blind—It is the second “forced” bet, which is the minimum opening bet. In contrast, the small blind will usually be half its size

The initial blind bet requirements may vary depending on the game structure, such as whether you are playing a limit or no-limit Texas hold’em.

Once the blind bets are placed, the dealer hands out two cards face down to each player. These are known as hole or pocket cards. The pre-flop stage begins when every player receives their starting hand. Having been dealt their hands, players can make one of the following three moves:

  1. Fold—refuse to bet even after previous bets. By folding, a player forfeits their participation in the given round and their right to the pot 
  2. Call—place a bet equal to the previous one
  3. Raise—raise the previously placed bet 

Flop

After the first betting round, the dealer places three cards on the board face up. These community cards are called “flop” cards. The betting options are the same as during the pre-flop round, with an additional option for players to check. Checking allows players to keep their cards without placing a bet, and it’s only available to them if no player before them has placed a bet.

Turn

After the flop, the dealer adds another card to the board, called the “turn” or the “fourth street.”  Players again have the option to participate in the betting process or fold.

River

The fourth and final stage of Texas hold’em is the “river,” which begins when the fifth community card is added to the board. Each remaining player attempts to combine the best poker hand available to them, using both their hole cards and the five community ones, and the betting process is repeated.

The final stage, when the remaining players reveal their hole cards to determine which one has the best poker hand, is called the showdown. In the rare occurrence that there are two winning hands, the pot is divided between those players.

Texas Hold’em Hand Rankings 

Each move you make while playing Texas hold’em is determined by the starting hand you are dealt and its probability of creating a strong five-card poker hand, often referred to as your hand odds. Below is the hierarchy of Texas hold’em hands presented from the strongest to the weakest:

  1. Royal flush—10, jack, queen, king, and ace of the same suit 
  2. Straight flush—five cards of the same suit that have a successive value (e.g. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, all of the spade)
  3. Four of a kind—four same-value cards of a different suit
  4. Full house—two pairs, one that has three cards of the same value in different suits and the other pair that has two cards of the same value in different suits
  5. Flush—five cards of the same suit with no particular order 
  6. Straight—five successive cards of a different suit. An ace can be used as 1 or after a king to form a straight, but it cannot be used for both purposes in the same hand
  7. Three of a kind—a pair of three cards of the same value and different suits
  8. Two pair—two pairs of mismatched suits  
  9. One pair—a pair of two cards of the same value and different suit
  10. High card—a hand that has no pair. The player’s single strongest card is the “high card” 

What Happens if You Use Multiple Decks in Texas Hold’em?

Source: Erik Mclean

The use of multiple decks in Texas hold’em introduces new odds and probabilities, changing the rules of the game. While you can play poker with as many decks as your heart desires, doing so means you are no longer playing the traditional Texas hold’em.

Two-deck poker will affect the following key aspects of the game:

  1. Outs for drawing hands
  2. Hand rankings

Outs for Drawing Hands

In poker, an out is any card that you need to draw in order to improve your winning chances. Keeping tabs on the number of outs you have is a key poker strategy. With more than one deck in the mix, your usual strategy regarding your outs for drawing hands will no longer be applicable.

Hand Rankings

More than one deck alters the traditional hand rankings by introducing more combinations into the mix and making certain hands (e.g., five of a hand) much more likely to combine than others (e.g., straights). As opposed to the standard hand ranking listed above, your two-deck poker hand hierarchy would now look like this: 

Hand RankingNumber of Possible Combinations
Royal flush 128
Five of a kind728
Straight flush1,172
Flush with two pair6,884
Four of a kind87,360
Flush with one pair91,520
Flush without a pair163,566
Full house244,608
Straight unflushed326,508
Three of a kind3,075,072
Two pair5,374,492
One pair40,909,440
High card41,681,170

If you are using one or more wild cards, it may also be possible to create five of a kind with flush. This combination would rank above royal flush.

Learn the Ropes by Playing Online Texas Hold’em

Source: Markus Spiske

The easiest way to master the rules of Texas hold’em is to try them out by playing the game! With the rise of online casino venues, you can play poker at the simple touch of your fingertips. To ease your selection of the ever-growing platforms, we have combined a list of trustworthy venues that are all regulated by law and safe to play at:

CasinoLicense Gateway
BetwayMalta Gaming Authority
Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
Register HERE!
LeoVegasMalta Gaming Authority
Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario 
Register HERE!
ConquestadorMalta Gaming AuthorityRegister HERE!
SpinzMalta Gaming AuthorityRegister HERE!
Come OnMalta Gaming Authority
Swedish Gambling Authority
Curaçao Gaming Control Board
Register HERE!
Zodiac CasinoMalta Gaming Authority
UK Gambling Commission
Kahnawake Gaming Commission
Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
Register HERE!
Dream VegasMalta Gaming Authority
UK Gambling Commission
Register HERE!
Luxury CasinoMalta Gaming Authority
UK Gambling Commission
Kahnawake Gaming Commission
Register HERE!
BetVictorUK Gambling CommissionRegister HERE!
Ruby FortuneMalta Gaming Authority
Swedish Gambling Authority
Kahnawake Gaming Commission
Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
Register HERE!

Signing up for any of these platforms will help you get the gist of poker basics in no time! Embark on your online Texas hold’em journey today and master your way to winning by playing responsibly.

Featured image source: Crystal Berdion

Tuomas Laine

Navigating offers and finding the best, Tuomas is our dedicated Casino Bonus Hunter

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