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What is the Difference Between Texas Hold’em and Poker?

Home » Guides » What is the Difference Between Texas Hold’em and Poker?

What is the Difference Between Texas Hold’em and Poker?

A man wearing a white shirt and black tie holding casino chips on a black and red poker table.

Your friends tell you they want to get together and play Texas Hold’em, but you just want to play regular poker. Is there a difference? Well, not really, but the two terms are often used in the mainstream as if they are different games.

However, for those well-versed in poker terms or seriously engaged in the game, the difference between Texas Hold’em and poker may seem obvious. They might also say, on a general level, that there is no difference, other than “poker” is a broad category, while Texas Hold’Em falls under this as a type of poker. But let’s break it down a bit and explain.

What is Poker?

Ace playing cards with green and red casino chips on a green felt table.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines poker as “any of several card games in which a player bets that the value of his or her hand is greater than that of the hands held by others, in which each subsequent player must either equal or raise the bet or drop out, and in which the player holding the highest hand at the end of the betting wins the pot.”

Dictionary.com defines poker on a more basic level, as “a card game played by two or more persons, in which the players bet on the value of their hands, the winner taking the pool.”

While exact definitions will differ somewhat, the key here is that poker remains a general term that encompasses all card games in this genre. Texas Hold’Em would fall underneath poker, rather than stand beside it as its equal.

It is a peer-to-peer game, as opposed to card games in casinos and online in which the house has an edge over the players. Poker can be played in a variety of formats – tournaments or cash games, for example – and at different levels, such as professionally or recreationally. A game can consist of two players to 10 at one table and up to thousands in a tournament. In addition, poker can include unique elements of bluffing and betting, and players can use several skills, like game theory and poker psychology, to improve their odds of winning.

What is Texas Hold’em?

A man wearing a suit and tie throws a playing card on a black and white Texas Hold’em poker table.

Texas Hold’em, also known as Hold’em, is a form of poker. It is a sub-category within the broader game of poker.

Merriam-Webster defines Texas Hold’em as a game of poker “in which each player is dealt two cards face down and all players share five cards dealt face up.” 

Dictionary.com’s description of the term is similarly “a popular variety of poker in which each player can use any or all of five shared cards in combination with either or both of two private cards to form the best possible hand of five cards.”

To be more specific, the game of Texas Hold’em includes two hole cards (private cards for each player, dealt face down) and five community cards (for all to share, dealt face up). Players can use any combination of those cards to create a five-card hand that can win. Naturally, it also requires strategy and skill, even if you are just a beginner at Texas Hold’Em games.

Texas Hold’em was a popular poker game throughout the 20th century but soared to new heights during the poker boom of the 2000s. More poker fans tuned in to watch games on television, and Hold’em was the game most often played on those TV shows. And when Chris Moneymaker won the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event for a life-changing sum of $2,500,000, Texas Hold’em took center stage for the global explosion of poker that ensued.

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Despite common misconceptions, those who aren’t poker pros will find little difference between Texas Hold’em Poker and general poker.