General Casino Articles
The Basics Of Playing Texas Hold'em
By Waldemar Puszkarz
In this article we present the basics of playing Texas Hold'em, which these days is by far the most popular variant of poker, perhaps even the most popular ever.
There are 5 actions the Texas Hold'em player can take:
1. Folding (or mucking) - discarding your hand and abstaining from any further action in the game
2. Calling – matching the last highest bet made before your turn
3. Checking – passing the action to the next player without betting
4. Betting - staking some amount of money, in particular to start a new round
5. Raising - staking more than the last bet made before your turn
Shuffle, Blinds and All That:
Before each game (also referred to as "a hand"), the dealer shuffles a standard 52-card deck. In a land casino the dealer does not play. If you are playing with a group of friends or in an online cardroom, the dealer can be and often is a player.
The dealer button (usually referred to as the "button") is a small disc that moves clockwise from player to player with each new hand. The button marks the player that would be the dealer, but its main importance to the game lies in the way it selects "the blinds." These are the two players to the left of the dealer who start the game by putting a fixed amount of money into the pot before any cards are dealt at all, making sure that the pot is never empty and there is something in it to compete for. This is called "posting the blinds." The first player to the left of the button is called the "small blind." He puts in up to the half the minimum bet, while the "big blind," the player to the left of the "small blind," puts in the full minimum bet. For example, in a $2/$4 game the "small blind" would be $1 and the "big blind" would be $2.
Each player is then dealt two cards face down. These first two cards are called "hole cards" and they remain hidden until the final showdown or until a player folds his hand if he ever chooses to reveal it.
Betting Rounds (sometimes also called streets):
The Pre-flop (the first round)
After the first two cards have been dealt to each player, a round of betting takes place, beginning with the player to the left of the blinds. Players can call, raise, or fold when it's their turn to act.
The Flop (the second round)
After the first betting round, the dealer removes the top card of the deck. This is called "burning the card" and is done to ensure that no one accidentally saw the top card. The dealer then flips the next three cards face up onto the table. These cards are called the "flop" and they represent the first three community cards shared by all players. After these cards have been exposed, another round of betting takes place, beginning with the first player to the left of the button (the dealer) who still remains in the game.
During this and the next two rounds of betting, players can check, call, raise, or fold when it's their turn to act. Each of these rounds starts with the first player to the left of the dealer who has not mucked his hand yet.
The Turn (the third round)
The dealer "burns" another card and places one more card face up onto the table. This fourth card is called the "turn" or "Fourth Street." Following this, another betting round takes place.
The River (the fourth round)
The dealer "burns" yet another card before placing the final face-up card on the table. This card is called the "river" (or "Fifth Street"). Players can now use any combination of seven cards, the five community cards and their two hole cards, to form the best possible five card poker hand. The final betting round ensues after which all players who remain in the game reveal their hands. The player who made the last raise or else the player who made the initial bet shows their hand first. The player with the best hand wins.
In a Limit Texas Hold'em game the bet size is fixed in each round. For instance, in a $2/$4 Texas Hold'em game, the bets are posted in increments of $2 before and after the flop. On the turn and the river the bets are made in increments of $4. For those new to Texas Hold'em, a fixed limit game is the recommended choice.
A Pot Limit Texas Hold'em game is a combination of fixed Limit and No Limit games, in which you can make a maximum bet at any time up to the amount of money that is in the pot.
In a No Limit Texas Hold'em game there is no limit on the amount you can bet, but there is often a minimum for each bet.
About the author
Waldemar Puszkarz, Ph.D., is a web veteran with 15 years of web surfing under his belt. By training, he is a theoretical physicist, but his interests are much broader than science and include trading financial markets, sports betting, poker, and researching online business opportunities. He is also an avid book reader and sports afficionado. Currently he is making his living mostly as a day trader. He has been in the trading trenches for almost a decade during which he has traded a variety of financial instruments. He is the owner and webmaster of Eminimethods.com (http://www.eminimethods.com) which provides free common sense trading education and simple trading systems for e-mini and stock markets as well as reviews of honest online business opportunities in Meet HOBO (http://www.eminimethods.com/HOBO.html) section of his site.
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