Texas Hold'em is arguably the most popular of all poker variations to play of all time. Im not saying this because Im from Texas, but because it is the variant of poker that has attracted the most attention globally.
I have been playing for years both with friends and in small tournaments all around the world and have seen people play the game very differently. The game is not very complex to learn, but don't let that simplicity mislead you. The number of possible game scenarios is so great that the game can become very complex.
Following are some of the basics that all players must know in order to play the game right.
To start, each player is dealt two cards. The goal in Texas hold'em is to make the best five-card hand using only the 2 cards and the 5 community cards that are dealt. Play moves clockwise around the table, starting with action to the left of the dealer. Generally, the first two players to the immediate left of the dealer are required to place a small blind and a large blind to initiate the betting. From there, betting occurs after each deal of the community cards.
Dealer, Small Blind, and Big Blind
When not playing at a Casino or among friends, the dealer regularly changes in order to give everyone the chance at dealing the cards. Same goes for the Small blind and the Big blind. Usually each of the 3 is assigned a button in order to keep track and identify who is the acting dealer.
The Dealer Button - determines which player at the table is the acting dealer. In Texas Hold'em, the player who has the dealer button is the last person to be dealt cards and also the last person to bet during each round of play. When dealing, the player to the immediate left of the dealer button in the small blind, receives the first card and then the dealer pitches cards around the table in a clockwise motion from player to player until each has received two starting cards. After each hand has been completed, the dealer button rotates one position to the left.
The Small Blind and Big Blind Buttons - identify the two players who are obligated to place opening bets before every new round. These two opening bets begin the wagering. Without these blinds, the game would be very boring because no one would be required to put any money into the pot. Generally the size of the blinds are raised at regular intervals. As the number of players keeps decreasing and the stacks of chips of the remaining players keep getting bigger, it is necessary that the blinds keep increasing in order to keep the game moving. The player directly to the left of the dealer is the small blind, and the player to his or her direct left is the big blind. Normally the small blind is half the amount of the big blind. The Small Blind and the Big Blind change and rotate to the left after each hand has been completed just like the dealer button.
Playing the Game
First Round Betting (Pre-Flop) - Once the initial 2 cards are dealt to each player, betting commences. The player to the left of the Big blind button needs to decide if he will continue to play. He/she has three options:
Call: match the amount of the big blind
Raise: increase the bet (usually a limit is set on how much one can raise. If playing No-limit hold'em, one can go "all in" and raise all their chips)
Fold: throw away the cards and give up
If a player chooses to fold, he or she is no longer eligible to win the current game.
Betting continues to the left until all players have either folded or matched the highest bet to stay in the game.
Second Round Betting (The Flop) - Once the first round of betting is complete, the dealer will deal 3 community cards face up and the second round of betting begins starting again with the player to the left of the dealer. Along with the options to bet, call, fold and raise, the player to the left of the dealer now also has the option to check which means to place no bet and pass to the next player to the left. That player and the following players can also elect to check if no betting action has occurred prior.
Third Round Betting (The Turn) - Once the second round of betting is complete, the dealer will deal a fourth card face up and a new round of betting begins again with the player to the left of the dealer. Again players have the option to bet, call, fold, raise and check.
Final Round of Betting (The River) - Once the third round of betting is complete, the dealer will deal the fifth and final community card face up known as the 'River.' This is followed by the final round of betting. Again players have the option to options to bet, call, fold, raise and check.
Once all betting has been completed, the remaining players who have not folded, now show their cards to determine a winner. The player with the best combination of five cards will win the pot.
Below are the Poker hands in order of rank from lowest to highest.
High card - The hand with the highest card(s) wins. If two or more players hold the highest card, a kicker comes into play.
Pair - One pair is two cards of the same rank. For example, two Aces.
Two Pairs - This is two cards of one value and another two cards of another value. For example, two Queens and two 7s.
Three of a Kind - Three cards of the same value. For example, three Jacks.
Straight - Five cards of sequential value. Every possible straight will contain either a 5 or a 10. For example, 5-6-7-8-9 with different suits.
Flush - A flush is any 5 cards, all of the same suit. For example, K-Q-3-8-10 all of clubs.
Full House - A full house contains a set (3) of cards of one value and a pair of another value. For example, K-K-7-7-7.
Four of a Kind - Four of a kind are four cards of equal value. For example, four Aces.
Straight Flush - A straight flush is a five-card straight, all in the same suit. For example, 6-7-8-9-10 all of Diamonds.
Royal Flush - A royal flush is an ace high straight flush. For example, A-K-Q-J-10 all of Hearts.
I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. This by no means will make you a master of the game given that their are many strategies to winning. Texas Hold'em like most other games is a mixture of skill, strategy, and chance. If you enjoyed reading this, please feel free to comment, and add.
Thanks for Reading!