Who Goes First in Texas Hold’Em | Order of Play


Poker Game In Progress

In Texas Hold’em, the person who starts or goes first is dependent on what stage of the hand being played. Before the flop, the first person to act is the player seated directly to the left of the Big Blind. This seat is often referred to as Under The Gun (UTG). After the flop, the first person to act is the player seated in the Small Blind (SB) position. Thereafter, the order stays the same for the rest of the hand through the Flop, Turn, and River.

What Is the Exact Order of Play?

The order of play is based on how the players are seated at the table. There are typically 6 seat names in poker. UTG (also known as first position) is divided up into multiple seats (UTG, UTG+1, UTG+2) for games larger than 6-handed.

Here is what a 6-max poker table looks like. In the chart, the seats are called Under The Gun (UTG), the Hijack (HJ), the Cutoff (CO), the Button (BTN), the Small Blind (SB), and the Big Blind (BB).

A positional poker table chart
For games with more players, UTG+1, UTG+2, etc. would sit in between the UTG & HJ seats.

Pre-Flop Order

Before the flop, the last player to act is always the Big Blind.

On a 6-handed table, the order of play would be UTG, HJ, CO, BTN, SB, BB. Once the first player acts, play continues around the table in a clockwise fashion until it reaches the Big Blind, who acts last on the first round.

On a 9-handed table, the order of play would be that the UTG starts followed by UTG+1, UTG+2, UTG+3, HJ, CO, BTN, SB, BB.

Post-Flop Order

On the Flop, Turn, and River, the last player to act is always the Button.

Accordingly, on a 6-handed table, the post-flop order of play would be the SB starts followed by the BB, UTG, HJ, CO, and BTN.

Are There Any Exceptions?

The post-flop order never changes. However, the pre-flop order of play can be slightly altered if there is a player who straddles. A straddle is when the player seated just to the left of the Big Blind (usually UTG) posts a double big blind bet in front of him prior to the cards being dealt.

Essentially, he is buying the right to act last before the flop. In the case of a straddle, the person seated just to the left of the “straddler,” goes first pre-flop once the straddle has been wagered.

What Is the Dealing Order?

The first person to act after the flop is also the first person to receive a card; the small blind. The easy way to remember this is that the dealer must always deal clockwise to his or her left.

Who Goes First in Heads-Up Play?

The pre-flop order also changes in a heads-up match. Instead of the Button acting last before the flop, he or she acts first instead. The easy way to remember it is that the Big Blind always goes last before the flop. And, in the case of heads up, the Button is the Small Blind, and therefore acts before the Big Blind player.

During post-flop, nothing changes heads up. The button still acts last, even though technically he or she is the Small Blind.

Dealing Order For Heads-Up Play

In heads-up play, the Big Blind is dealt to first and the Button 2nd. The button always receives the last card when dealing no matter how many players are seated at the table.

What’s the Order of Play Three-Handed?

The same rules apply whether there are 3 players or 10. Before the flop, the player to act first is just to the left of the big blind. In the case of three-handed play, that would be the button. After the flop, the small blind acts first as always.

Who Bets First?

After the flop and before action is opened, any player can perform one of two actions. They can either bet or check. Of course, the person who acts first has the first option to bet.

When Does a Poker Hand End?

There are a couple of ways that a poker hand can end. First, someone can bet and all the other players fold. This can happen on any street. The second time a hand can end is when the action closes on the river and showdown is achieved. In the latter case, all live hands are revealed and the winner is determined.

Who Shows Their Cards First at Showdown?

Once the hand has ended on the river and showdown has been achieved, the order that each player reveals their hand is exactly the same as the post-flop betting order. The first person to reveal is always the first person to the left of the Dealer and the last person to reveal is the player on the button.

Of course, if a player only has to show their hand if they want to. Many players will choose to “muck” or throw away their hand instead of showing if they are sure they have no chance of winning the hand at showdown. This is sometimes a wise choice in order to not give away information about your hand.

Is It Better to Act First or Last?

Being in position (acting last) is much better than being out of position (acting first) in poker. Poker is an informational game and the person that gets to act last has more information than everyone else. I wrote a detailed article on position; check it out for more details.

What Is the Best Position at a Poker Table?

Since we have established that acting last is most advantageous in poker, the Button would be the best seat at the table. However, in reality, the seat name is irrelevant, as long as you are acting last. Therefore, let me refine my definition slightly: the best seat in poker is any seat that has you acting last in the current hand on the current street. For example, if it is blind versus blind after the flop, then the player in the Big Blind has the best seat possible for that hand.

Why Is It Called the Dealer Button?

When poker began the players had to deal the cards. In order for everyone to get equal opportunity to share the burden of dealing, the moving dealer button was born. Today, in casinos and even in some home games, there are dedicated dealers to speed up play, enforce the rules, and lessen the likelihood of cheating.

Why Do the Blinds Act Last Before the Flop?

The exact reason that the blinds act last before the flop has been lost to history. However, one could deduce that the reasoning is simple. Since the blinds are the only players to pay to play a particular hand, it only makes sense that they should be rewarded by being given an informational advantage via acting last. This theory is bolstered by the existence of “straddles” where one can essentially “buy” position before the flop.

Who Goes First in Pot Limit Omaha?

There is no difference between Texas Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha (PLO) when it comes to the order of play. In fact, the order of play is the same for every poker game that has two blinds and a dealer button.

Jim James

Jim is the author of the best-selling book called Automatic Poker. He has been playing professionally for over 10 years and has helped countless people become winning poker players. Using a no-nonsense mathematical and logical approach to beating the games, Jim has helped demystify what it takes to win money in No-Limit Hold'em.

10 thoughts on “Who Goes First in Texas Hold’Em | Order of Play

  1. Hi.

    Good tutorial..thumbs up!

    Ohne thing:

    The first person to act before the flop is also the first person to receive a card.

    That must be “to act AFTER tue flop”, right?

  2. Thanks for the information – very useful. I think you may have an error in this sentence from the “Is it better to act first or last?” section : “Poker is an informational game and the person that gets to act first has more information than everyone else.” I think you meant the person that gets to act LAST has more information… Or maybe I am not understanding the point.

  3. i have lots of questions:
    1、in my thought , before dealing card ,all player’s bets should be the same , so if the one before you is more than yours, you must call or raise or fold, you cannot check. but if you raise first ,and others call after you,when turn is your ,you should check this time if you don’t want to raise again, and the rest after you should check either until the turn goes to BB. (if one raise again ,a new clockwise is begin ,until the first raise can check.)
    so my question is that, in pre-flop, everyone can check if can, only BB check make the dealing, is that right?
    2、in flop or turn or river , actions start with the one left to the button ,but what if the button has fold?
    start with who?
    3、no matther pre-flop, Flop, Turn, and River, the bet rule basis is make everyone’s bets equal, if one raise , a new clockwise start , call or flod , until one can check ,and continue check to the last one who has the rights to dealing . the only different is the start position, pre-flop is GTN, other is the one left to the button. is that right?

    1. 1. Yes, if there is no raise before the flop, the flop is dealt right after the big blind checks.
      2. If the button has folded, the player seated closest to the right of the button goes last. This is the order of position, if they are in the hand: Button>Cutoff>Hijack>Lojack>etc. So if the UTG player raises, the Hijack calls, and everyone folds to the big blind who calls, the hijack goes last in that 3-way pot.
      3. Yes, UTG starts the hand pre-flop. The closest player to the left of the button still in the hand goes first after the flop.

      By the way, the only player who can check pre-flop without putting in more chips is the big blind. Everyone else must either call the price of the big blind, or the amount of the largest raise.

  4. I read lots of articals about the rules. i change my mind a little .
    1、there is no “check” option in pre-flop, when one raise, other should call or raise ,or fold. if no one raise(call or fold),then the clockwise turn back to the one who raise , the dealing begin.(because one cannot raise himself again).(no matter this one is BB or not)
    if one raise , some other one raise again ,then the new clockwise turn goes down, everyone call make sure the bet is equal, the the turn back to the new raise one , the dealing begin.

    2、in flop,turn,river ,add “check”option, of course ,when your right-hand one raise ,you have to call or raise ,but if not, you can check . and the clockwise begin ,when the turn back to the “check” one ,the dealing begin. exist one conditon, no one add bet , every choose check in one street.

    is that right?

    1. 1. Yes, and the original raiser must either call, raise, or fold.
      2. Yes, that is correct. Everyone can just continue to check and more cards will be dealt. Only if someone bets do you have to put more chips in.

  5. Thanks a lot for your replay. but i still have a little confusion.
    In a 6-person game, the follow 2 conditions which is right?
    MP always raise first.
    condition 1:
    GTN(call to 10)->MP(raise to 20)->CO(call to 20)->BTN(call to 20)->SB(call to 20)->BB(call to 20)
    ->GTN(call to 20)->MP(check). the clockwise stop, cards dealing.
    condition 2:
    GTN(call to 10)->MP(raise to 20)->CO(call to 20)->BTN(call to 20)->SB(call to 20)->BB(call to 20)
    ->GTN(call to 20)->MP(check)->CO(check)->BTN(check)->SB(check)-BB(check)
    only wait BB check can deal the cards.

    which is right? I prefer condition 1 is right. but why lots people say that only BB check can deal card?

    1. Pre-Flop, the cards are dealt when the big blind checks in a non-raised pot. Post-flop, it’s the person closing the action that makes the next card come.

      This guide I created on the basics should help clear up any confusion for you.

      https://automaticpoker.com/how-to-play-poker/

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