Texas Hold'emThe Basics
Number of Players 2 -10
Of all the games played in card rooms today, Texas Hold'em is by far the most popular game, and one of the easiest to learn, making it both fun and rewarding to play. The object of the game is to make the strongest 5 card hand by using a combination of your 2 hole cards and the 5 community cards on the table.
In addition, when playing Texas Hold'em, every player will have a turn at using the dealer button, acting as the virtual dealer, and every player will be required to post blinds at one time or another.
Terminology and Facts
Dealer Button ("Button","Buck","Puck")
This is a device that is used in online poker rooms to mark the dealer among the players for each hand. The dealer button is a small disk that is marked with the letter "D". The dealer button is not only essential to the players so they know who is dealing, but also because the two players to the left of the dealer must post the two blinds in the game. After the completion of each hand, the dealer button moves to the left.
In games with blinds, there are two blinds posted - the small blind (half of the minimum level bet) and the big blind (the full minimum bet). Before the game begins, the small blind is posted by the first player closest to the dealers left, and the big blind is posted by the player to the left of the small blind player.
The purpose of the blinds is to make it so that there is money in the pot before the game starts. That way the betting can begin and players are encouraged to take part in the hand. It also means that no one will walk away empty-handed should the hand end quickly.
The size of the blinds is determined by the stakes of each table. Therefore if you are playing at a $4/$8 table, and the typical small blind is half the minimum bet, the small blind will be $2, and the big blind will be the full minimum bet of $4.
The betting structure is the same for every table. The only aspect that will change is the amount of money involved, which will correspond to the stakes for the table you choose to play at. For the purpose of this chart we will use the $4/$8 table example:
Note: For each round of betting, there is a limit of 1 bet and 3 raises. Therefore, in the $4/$8 example, betting would be restricted to a total of $16 in rounds 1 and 2, and $32 in rounds 3 and 4.
Also known as "pocket" cards, hole cards are those dealt to each player and are face down, so that only the player can see these cards.
These are the first three community cards issued by the dealer.
The fourth community card that is dealt
The fifth and final community card to be dealt
Texas Hold'em In Action
Round One - Let the game begin
As soon as a dealer has been selected and the blinds posted, the game begins with the dealer dealing each player two hole cards clockwise round the table. Once this is complete, the first round of betting starts and things begin to get interesting!
Round One - Betting
At this point of the game, players must carefully consider their hole cards and determine if they have potential. Betting commences with the player to the immediate left of the big blind player, and follows clockwise round the table.
In this betting round each player, with the possible exception of the player who posted the big blind, may either choose to fold (quit the game), call (meet the bet) or raise, increasing the big blind to a full bet. If players still left in the round choose to only call the big blind, then the player who originally posted the big blind is the only player who has the option to check (stay in the game without calling or raising) their own blind.
Players wager using the smaller level of the stakes at the table (Note: Refer to the betting structure listed above to learn about the limits and rules for the betting rounds).
Round 2 - The Flop
By this point of the game, the excitement increases as the dealer deals the first three community cards face up on the board (the middle of the table). Now players can use these three communal cards in combination with their two hole cards to determine their hand possibilities.
Round 2 Betting
For this round, betting commences with the first player closest to the dealers left (it doesn't matter if the dealer folds, betting always commences with the player closest to their left) and continues clockwise round the table. Betting follows the same structure as in the first round, with players able to fold, call, and raise. The first player to make a wager may check, and if no other raises are made, the other players may also check.
Like the first round, players wager using the smaller level of stakes at the table.
Round 3 - The Turn
Once the second betting round has come to an end, the dealer deals the fourth community card on the board. Now the game becomes even tenser as the players left in the game now have 6 cards to work with.
Round 3 - Betting
The third betting round follows the same as the second betting round, with the exception that now players must wager using the higher level of the stakes at the table.
Round 4 - The River
At this point of the game, palms really start to sweat as the fifth and final community card is dealt on the board. Players now have all 7 cards at their disposal, and must make the best possible 5-card hand.
Round 4 The Final Bet
Betting commences as it did in the last round, with the higher level of stakes at the table making up the wager.
Here it is, the moment every player waits for - to see if their blood will run cold with the results or pump hot and fast with the victory. Each player left in the hand show their cards, beginning with the last player to bet and continuing in that pattern. During the showdown players may also choose to "muck" (fold out of the game, without showing their cards) their hand. The winner naturally takes the pot.
If in the event, a player wins by default, which means that every other player in the hand folded, no showdown will occur, and the winner is given the option to show their cards or not. For the most part players choose not to show their winning hand, as it adds to the drama of the game, and keeps the other opponents guessing what the great hand was.
Although there are many strategies that you can learn when playing Texas Hold'em, the following are few basic tips you should keep in mind when playing to determine if you should hold'em or fold'em:
1. If your two hole cards are a low pair, be cautious of how you play. It is a good idea to only stay in the hand if the betting is low. As the game continues if you find you don't have a 3 of a kind or two pairs, it is usually in your best interest to fold.
2. Don't make the mistake of folding too quickly. If you find everyone is checking, stay in the game and choose to check also; therefore you can move on to the next round without having to put in anymore money in the pot. After all, the next round may provide your hand with the card you've been waiting for.
3. As early as the second round of betting (after the flop) you will have 5 cards to work with, giving you a good idea of just how strong your final hand will look like, without putting you to much in the hole. At this time, carefully consider your odds and decide whether it is best to stay in the game, or quit while you're ahead.
4. Don't play at tables that you know you can't afford to lose. Not only will this affect the way you play, making you more anxious and liable to make foolish mistakes, but high-stakes tables generally appeal to skilled players.
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