How to play Texas Hold’em
Monday, 1. February 2010

Texas Hold’em is the most popular poker game played today without question. If you have had the opportunity to watch poker on television, chances are you were watching Texas Hold’em. The rules of Texas Hold’em are deceptively simple but the game can take a lifetime to master. Before you race down to the Bellagio and put your lifesavings on the line in Bobby’s Room (being facetious), you will need to learn the basics of the game and gain a little experience in low limit games.

The Texas Hold’em games that you might catch on TV are almost exclusively No Limit games meaning that a player may play all of their chips at each and every betting opportunity they have; pre-flop, flop, turn and river. This format is superb for television but as a beginner, you’d be best served by playing in Low Limit games. The Low Limit games that you might find in a casino card room have a betting structure of $1/$2, $2/$4 or $3/$6. Once you have achieved a certain level of experience, then you can step up to higher limits or No Limits if you so desire.

The Game
Each player is dealt two cards face down, known as the “hole” cards, and then five community cards are dealt turned up on the table for all the world to see. The object is to make the best five card hand using any combination of the two hole cards and the five community cards. For the sake of this explanation, we will assume a betting structure of $1/$2. There are four betting rounds in Texas Hold’em; the first two have a betting limit of $1 and the last two rounds have a limit of $2. One must bet or raise only the amount of the limit for that particular betting round.

The Blinds
The first thing done in a game of Texas Hold’em, before any cards are dealt, is the posting of the “Blind” bets or “The Blinds.” The player immediately to the left of the dealer posts the small blind, equal to half of the minimum bet which for our purposes is $0.50. The player seated to the left of the small blind posts the “big blind,” equal to the minimum bet which for our purposes is $1. It is important to note that if you have not as yet been to a casino, players do not deal. There is a professional dealer employed by the casino that shuffles and deals the cards. These dealers do not play in the games. There is a dealer button that rotates around the table with the passing of each hand. The person in possession of the dealer button is considered the dealer in the sense that the person to their left posts the small blind, etc. The position of dealer changes with each hand and, in this way, each player eventually acts as dealer, small blind and big blind.

Pre-flop
Each player is dealt their two hole cards face down with the player paying the small blind receiving the first card and the player with the dealer button receiving the last card. The first round of betting begins with the player to the left of the big blind either putting in $1 to “call” the big blind or putting in $2 to “raise” the big blind or simply folding their hand. The betting continues around the table in this fashion until it reaches the player who posted the small blind. In the event that no one has raised, the small blind may either meet the big blind, raise the big blind or fold. If one of the players did raise then they may either meet the raise or fold. The last player to act is the player who posted the big blind. If none of the players have raised, the dealer will then ask the big blind if they would like the option. This means that the big blind has the option to either check or post a raise. By checking, the big blind does not have to put in any more money as they have already posted the requisite bet.

The Flop
Once the first round of betting is finished, the first three community cards are dealt face up in the center of the table. This is known the “Flop.” Here, the second round of betting begins with the first active player left of the dealer button. They may either “check” or place a bet. The bet for the second round of betting is $1.

The Turn
After the second round of betting is completed, the fourth community card is dealt face up in the center of the table. This is known as the “Turn.” Here, the third round of betting begins again with the first active player left of the dealer button. The bet for the third round of betting is $2.

The River
Once the third round of betting is completed, the fifth community card is dealt face up in the center of the table. This is known as the “River.” Here, the fourth and final round of betting begins with the first active player left of the dealer button. The bet for the fourth round of betting is $2.

The Showdown
Once the fourth and final round of betting is completed, it is time for the “Showdown” to determine who wins the pot. The player with the best five card hand combination of their two hole cards and the five community cards wins the pot. In the event that the five community cards make the best hand, the active players split the pot.

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