The order of play in Texas Hold’em depends on what stage of a hand you’re at. The order changes from pre-flop to post-flop and is different in heads-up play as opposed to a hand involving three or more players.
THREE OR MORE PLAYERS IN HAND - PRE-FLOP
The order of play in the first round – i.e. the pre-flop round - is different to the order for the subsequent rounds. Pre-flop, it is the player immediately to the left of the big blind who acts first. This position is sometimes referred to as being “under the gun”.
Once the player “under the gun” acts, play continues around the table in a clockwise direction until it reaches the big blind, who acts last on the pre-flop round.
THREE OR MORE PLAYERS IN HAND - SUBSEQUENT ROUNDS
In each subsequent round – flop, turn and river - it is the player in the small blind position who acts first and the player in the dealer position (“the button”) who acts last.
HEADS UP PLAY – PRE-FLOP
In a heads-up situation, the pre-flop order changes. Instead of the button acting last before the flop, they act first instead. This is because the other player is posting big blinds, meaning that the button is, by default, the player to the left of the big blind (as well as being the small blind and the dealer). As it is the player to the left of the big blinds who acts first pre-flop, the button must act first pre-flop in a heads-up match.
Another way to remember this is that the big blind must always act last before the flop. So, in heads-up play, as the button is the small blind, they must therefore act before the big blind player.
HEADS UP PLAY – POST-FLOP
During post-flop play, the order is the same for heads-up play as it is when three or more players are in the hand. That is, the button still acts last, even though they are also the small blind.