How to Host a Texas Hold 'Em Poker Tournament

By: Kim Williamson

Texas Hold 'Em Tournament Formats and Ideas

Before hosting a tournament, let's understand more about Hold 'em. To get started, the two players to the left of the dealer put out their blinds. Blinds are the bets, made before the cards are dealt. They help start the betting and set the standard minimum bet. The player to the dealer's immediate left places the "little blind" while the player two places over from the dealer places the "big blind." The big blind is the minimum bet and the little blind (or small blind) is 1/2 or 1/3 of that amount. Then the cards are dealt in the following order:

  1. Pocket (or hole) cards - two cards facedown
  2. Flop - three community cards face up in the center of the table
  3. Turn - one community card face up in the center of the table
  4. River – one community card face up in the center of the table

After each round of dealing, players can bet, raise the bet, check (pass the bet) or fold (give up the hand). Once the river card has been dealt (and betting is over), the remaining players show their cards and whoever makes the best five-card poker hand using their pocket cards and the cards on the table wins.


Typically, there are betting guidelines, based on what variation you're playing, such as:

  • Fixed Limit: Here, you have set bets per deal. For instance, you can bet $5 after the pocket cards and the flop; then $10 for the turn and river.
  • Pot Limit: Players bet anywhere from the initial bet to the total amount in the pot, giving more freedom to bet big.
  • No Limit: You can bet all the chips you have. Go hard or go home.

Other interesting variations play by the standard Hold 'em rules with a few twists:

  • Pineapple: Players get three private cards dealt, but discard one before continuing the game.
  • The River Wild: In this game, the river card is wild so you make it anything you want. The end of the game gets a bit crazy, because no one knows what they or opponents will have until they choose their wild card.