So you want to know how to play Texas Holdem poker. If you enter any poker room or casino, this will be the one of the most popular variant of poker you’ll find being played. And though the game is easy to understand, there is an underlying strategy that takes some patience and skill to master. Let’s have a look….
The game itself is said to come from the Texas town of Robstown, though some claim that it’s older. Wild Bill Hickok came to his grisly end over a game. Starting in the early 1900’s the game spread across state boundaries until it finally landed in Las Vegas in the 1960’s. After it’s introduction into casino, it became very popular with the rise in the number of Poker tournaments. Thanks to it’s inclusion in a couple of books about gambling, it’s popularity grew and people became more interested in it’s working strategies.
- Hole Cards | the cards held by the individual players
- Flop | the first three cards in the community pile
- Turn | the forth card in the community pile
- River | the fifth and final community card dealt
- Small Blind and Big Blind | two forced bets made by the players to the left of the dealer
- Kicker | hole card used to determine the winner out of two equal hands
Rules: Play Texas Holdem Poker
A Texas Holdem game is played on a single table with between 2 to 10 players. The goal is simple: win as many chips as you can, one pot at a time. You win a pot by having the best hand or by having all other players fold before the showdown. Once you’re all sat around the table, then you’ll be needing chips to play with. Let’s deal with later, and assume, that for now, you all have chips.
Who’s the Button?
Now we need to pick the dealer or “button”. Texas Holdem is played with what’s known as a rotating dealer. In other words, at the end of each round, the role of the dealer passes to the player on their left. To choose the dealer, each player can blindly pull a card from the pack, or from a spread pack. The highest card is nominated for the role of dealer. By the way, in a casino poker room, though there is just one dealer, the “button” or role of dealer is still moving around the table. If you’re playing online, with one of these online poker sites from the US, then this rule stays the same.
Big and Small Blinds
Let’s talk about “blinds”. There are two types, a “small blind” and a “big blind”. Online poker news from the US holds that these are in effect, forced bets from two players that ensure there are actual chips in the pot to play for. After all, we need to play for something! Like the role of the dealer, the two blinds also travel around the table. The small blind is the person directly to the left of the dealer. And the big blind is the person to the left of them. The big blind is normally double the value of the small blind.
Playing with Blinds
The size of the initial blind will decide the type of game that’ll be played. Normally, you’ll buy into the game for no less that 100x the size of the big blind. So, for example, if you want to buy in for $20, then you should play with blinds of 10 and 20 cents. When you’re playing in a casino poker room, you’ll see that the size of the amount expected from you to buy in, is directly related to the size of the blinds. To give you an example: in a $1 – $2 game, the table minimum will usually be $40 (20 x the big blind) and the maximum is $200 (100x the big blind),
Let’s Play Texas Holdem Poker
So let’s play. There are a minimum of one and a maximum of four betting rounds. Once the first round of betting is done, then the flop is dealt. This is simply the collective term for the first three cards of the community cards that are set face up for all the world to see. After another round of betting, then a fourth card, known as the “turn” or “fourth street” is dealt. The final and fifth round ends with the fifth and final community card , called the “river” or “fifth street” is shown. Oh…and remember that you can play online with Intertops Poker.
Every player has three options of what to do with their hand:
- Fold: Pay nothing to the pot and throw away their hand, waiting for the next deal to play again.
- Call: Match the amount of the big blind (pre-flop this is also known as “limping in.”)
- Raise: Raise the bet by doubling the amount of the big blind.
The Game Play
Players will take turns to equal bets in the round. They then reveal their cards. This is called the “showdown”. A hand ends when all players except for one have folded. Or the fourth and final betting round completes with multiple players still in the hand – whichever comes first. Players use both their own cards and the community cards. They can rely on as many or as few of each as they so wish. If two players happen to share the same hand value and are not using all the five community cards, then the remaining hole cards or “kicker cards” decide the winner. If there are no more cards and the kicker is not available, then the pot is equally split.
There are three different betting modes in Standard Texas Holdem.
- Pot Limit: This is where the maximum bet is equal to the whatever amount is held in the pot
- No Limit: No maximum bets.
- Fixed Limit: The amount bet is directly tied to the small and big blinds.
Variations of Texas Holdem poker
- Pineapple or Crazy Pineapple: Each player is dealt three as opposed to two cards. In the normal game, one of the cards is discarded during the first bet. In this Pineapple game, one card is discarded after the flop reveal.
- Super-Eight: As with the Pineapple, three cards are dealt, but remain throughout the entire game.
- Tahoe: Is the same as Super-Eight but the players are only able to use two out of the three cards in their final hand.
- Aviation: Players initially receive four cards. They must lose one before the flop and another after the flop reveal.
- River of Blood: Remember the “river” card? Well in this game, if the fifth community card is a red suit, then betting continues and a sixth community card is then laid down. Only when the river card is a black does the hand finish.
- Speed Hold ’em: Players are dealt four cards and need to be losing two of them straight away. All five community are are dealt simultaneously and there is only one round of betting before the reveal.
- Blind Man’s Bluff: This is probably the most interesting variant of the game. Rather than keeping you two hole cards facing down, you hold them face up so all the other players can see them…..except you! This forces the players to make bets on what everyone else is holding.
You can play all the above and more at Intertops Poker.