Texas Hold’em is by far the most popular version of poker these days, and it is played in many different formats and game types.
You can play Texas Hold’em as a limit, pot-limit, or no-limit game, with the no-limit variation usually the most attractive to players.
If you are relatively new to Texas Hold’em, you may be wondering how many players can play Texas Hold’em at a single table.
To answer that question, I will talk about the most popular variations of the game and playing with anywhere between two and ten players and beyond.
How Many People Can Play Texas Hold’em at Once?
Texas Hold’em, like all poker games, is not an official sport or game that has strict rules that must be followed in every place it is played.
In fact, almost every casino or poker room in the world has some kind of local rule that’s different from those seen in the official poker tournaments like WSOP or EPT.
These unique rules can be related to the blinds and antes, how bets are made and structured, and of course, the number of players at a Texas Hold’em table.
In the early days, Texas Hold’em used to be played mostly in a limit format, with ten players often seated at the tables.
This was reduced down to nine players as no-limit Texas Hold’em emerged. For a long time, the game was mostly played nine-handed.
Even today, many poker tournaments are played nine-handed, with some even adding the tenth chair to allow more people to enter the tournaments at once.
However, the younger generations of players have realized that having too many players at the table is not good for the action. Everyone is cautious of all the possible opponents who could have a monster hand.
When it comes to tournament Texas Hold’em, eight players to a table is often the norm these days. Cash games are played in the six-max format more often than not.
Of course, there are still full-ring games out there, and players will add additional chairs to cater to VIPs or players who give a lot of action from time to time.
Finally, you can also play poker with just two players at the table. The heads-up format of the game is becoming more and more popular, and players often enjoy it both online and in live poker rooms.
Full Ring Poker Games
In theory, the max players for Texas Hold’em is ten, as more than ten players at a table are rarely seen in any official poker game.
Ten or nine-handed games are usually referred to as full-ring. They tend to play pretty snug since people avoid opening many poker hands for the risk of running into a monster.
In fact, the right way to play at a full-ring poker table is pretty tight, especially in the first four or five positions, as you are simply facing too many other people in every pot.
Full ring poker is a dying game exactly because it tends to kill the action. Players who crave fast-paced action with a lot of raising cannot thrive in these games.
If you are an action player yourself, full-ring games are definitely not going to be the best for you. However, you can still join them if you are ready to learn some discipline and play fewer hands.
Eight-Handed Poker Games
If you, like so many players out there, think that nine players are simply too many to play in a single poker game, you may want to look into the growing trend of eight-handed poker tournaments.
By removing just one chair from the table, poker rooms and sites are able to make the games more dynamic and action-packed and change gameplay quite significantly.
Eight-handed poker tournaments are especially popular online. Big poker sites like PokerStars and GGPoker are focused on this game format when it comes to MTTs.
The reason, of course, is to make the games more playable, add more action to every hand, and generally discourage players from playing too tight.
Six-Max Texas Hold’em Games
In many ways, six-max is the new standard in the game in the matter of how many people can play Texas Hold’em.
Practically all cash games, especially those with higher stakes, are six-max games, with players looking to do a lot of raising and play pretty wide.
Even with just six players at the table, online cash games tend to play pretty snug and tight, with most players looking for their spots to get involved.
If you are looking for some really crazy action, live Texas Hold’em games with just six players can be exceptionally fun.
For those looking to set up a home cash game, bringing six players in total and possibly one or two substitutes is the ideal way to go about things.
Six-max poker has a great flow to it. It creates action and is preferred by both gamblers and professional players as both benefit from it in some ways.
While pros like to see as many hands as possible and play against fewer players, gamblers also enjoy seeing many hands and believe they can create an edge by bullying the table.
Whatever may be the truth, the fact is that six-max Texas Hold’em has completely taken over for full ring and is the favorite choice of live and online players alike.
If you think that six players are still too many, or you simply can’t put together a game with six players, Texas Hold’em can be played just fine with four players as well.
Four is far from the optimal number of players to have at the table, but you can definitely set up some fairly action-packed games with this kind of a lineup.
With just four players, it makes sense to play more hands and play them aggressively, as there are so few poker positions to get through.
What’s even more, the blinds hit you very often in a four-handed game. Thus, you will want to compensate for that by playing more aggressively and winning more pots.
You can also find some four-handed tournaments at online poker sites, so if this is the format you enjoy, there will be some action for you out there.
According to many professional players, heads-up Texas Hold’em is the purest and most creative form of poker altogether.
The game pits two players against one another, with the only goal in every hand being to outsmart your opponent and win their poker chips.
Heads-up poker is specific in that you must play every hand, and you are paying a blind in every hand, which means winning pots is imperative.
Unlike six-max or full ring games, your cards will be worth a lot more in heads up Texas Hold’em, with countless different ways to win the pot.
If you jump in and play some heads-up poker, forget about making big poker hands. Instead, start learning how you can win pots without having a hand.
Heads-up poker is also the most skillful variation of the game, so you will need to learn how to play well if you want to have a genuine chance in this format.
Can More Than Ten Players Play Texas Hold’em?
When we asked how many people can play Texas Hold’em, I said that ten was the maximum, but this is really only the case in official poker rooms.
If you are playing in a home game or a game in a smaller casino or poker room, you will generally be allowed to set your own rules.
Back in the day, there used to be plenty of 13-handed limit Texas Hold’em games out there, and more than ten players would often join a single table.
You can definitely set as many chairs at your poker table as you want and allow many players to sit down.
That said, keep in mind that every new player will only make the game less fun for everyone.
You could, in theory, stack up to twenty people to play in your poker game, but doing so would completely take away from the most fun elements of poker.
If you are going to be throwing together a poker game sometime soon, I highly recommend capping your player number at nine or possibly keeping the tenth chair open for special guests.
When to Add Chairs Into Your Poker Game
The concept of a VIP chair is one that was invented by the high-stakes poker community, but it can be applied at any level of play.
Typically, poker games will set a number of players that are allowed at a table at either six or nine. In poker tournaments, this number cannot be changed, but in cash games, it can.
In a cash game, pro players and game organizers will often allow VIP players to join the game as the seventh or tenth player, hoping to provide some action for the regulars.
If you ever get asked whether a certain person can sit into that extra chair at your table, you should generally accept it. Most people will only recommend it if the player is exceptionally bad at the game.
Almost always, a VIP player will be the one bringing value to the game, which gives him or her the special right to sit in a seat that was not available to regs or other players.
More Isn’t Always Merrier
More may be merrier in many things in life, but in Texas Hold’em, too many players will cause chaos and make the game almost unplayable.
If you think about the fact that every player at the table has about a 5% chance of being dealt a huge poker hand, you can quickly extrapolate how likely that is to happen.
For instance, at a ten-handed table, someone will have a premium hand every other hand, with each of the ten players having a 5% chance at one.
As the table gets shorter, you will have more liberty to open hands, raise and re-raise, bluff, and generally give action to the other players.
Giving action can often be a pathway to great things, including heads-up changes, players playing poorly against you, and more.
Remember that in Texas Hold’em, it’s not always about getting more players at your table. It’s more important to get the right players who are willing to gamble it up and don’t quite know how to play poker as well as you do!