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Introduction to Texas Holdem

Introduction to Texas Holdem

Texas Hold'em is the most popular poker game in the world. The name “Texas Hold'em” came about because it was first played in Robstown, Texas in the early 1900’s. It began the rapid spread of Texas Hold’em among fans of this great card game, then it conquered America.

How to Play Texas Hold’em

Regardless of whether you’re playing Texas Hold’em online or at the casino, the format of the game remains the same. Depending on the type of limits there are several variants of Hold'em: Fixed Limit Hold'em, where each betting round has a specific betting limit. Online real money No Limit Hold'em, where a player can bet all the chips at any point in the game, and Pot Limit Hold'em, where the player can bet any amount of chips but the bet and raise amount cannot exceed the current size of the pot.

At the beginning of the game, two players make the mandatory blind bets. These bets are called the small blind and big blind. The big blind is always twice the small blind or rounded to the nearest increment for convenience. Such forced bets are made by the two players sitting to the left of the dealer. In each round of the game, the dealer button (the button) moves clockwise, moving to the next player. Then all of the players get dealt two hole cards, called pocket cards.

There are four groups of positions at a full ring table: There is two positions in the blinds, as discussed above. Early position, which are the three players who are the first to act during the post flop betting rounds. Middle position, which there are next three players. And then late position, which there are two players, the dealer and the player to his right in the cutoff position.

The goal in Texas Hold’em is for players to use their two pocket cards and the community cards on the table to make the strongest possible five-card hand as per traditional poker hand rankings (there is more information regarding this below.)

After the pocket cards are dealt, the first betting round begins. When each player makes his chosen action, the dealer deals a "flop", whereby three community cards are dealt on the table. A second betting round takes place, followed by a “turn” card and another betting round, and finally the final “river” card, so five community cards are dealt face up for every player to use.

At the showdown players who still remain in the hand reveal their cards and determine whose hand was the strongest. This player gets the whole pot unless two or more players have the same winning hand, in which case the pot is split equally between them.

Texas Hold’em betting options:

Fold : If a player has weak hole cards and he does not want to continue playing, he can muck and wait to play the next hand.

Bet : When a player puts a certain amount of chips into the pot. However, the bet amount must not be less than the big blind amount. Other players who want to stay in the game can either match this bet, raise, or fold.

Raise : A player can raise his opponent and make other players pay more to see the next card.

Check : If there still has not been a bet the player who is next to act can check without investing additional chips into the pot as not bet has been made. By checking, you pass the turn to the next player.

Strongest starting hands in Texas Hold’em:

  1. AA - Pocket aces, the strongest starting hand in Texas Hold’em. Raise.
  2. KK - A pocket pair of kings. Raise.
  3. QQ - A pair of queens. Play similar to AA, however, two or more people go all-in, fold. The odds of someone having a bigger pocket pair that has you crushed is pretty likely.
  4. AKs, AKo - Strongest drawing hand requires a preflop raise to start building a pot. If you hit a pair, you will have top pair top kicker, a very strong hand.
  5. JJ - A pair of jacks. If the flop comes with cards of higher value and there is a lot of action - fold.
  6. AQs, AQo - Raise in any position to continue to play on the flop.
  7. AJ, AT - Limp from early position. Raise from middle and late positions. If there was a raise in front of you from a tight player - fold.
  8. KQ - Limp in early positions, and raise from middle positions. Fold against an early position raise from a tight player.
  9. TT - A pocket pair of tens. Raise from any position.
  10. 22-99 - Limp from any position. You can also call a smallish raise for set mining potential. Note, however, the weaker the pair, the less the chance you have to win the hand.
  11. KT, QJ, QT, JT - If someone limped, call. If the action has folded around to you in late position at the table - raise.

Although strong Ace hands that aren’t AK can be worth playing some players fall into the trap of playing any hand with an Ace. Trouble starting hands for novice players are A-2, A-3, A-4, A-5, A-6, A-7, A-8, and A-9. If another opponent also has an ace with a better kicker, than you only have 3 outs to make a better hand.

Poker Hands (ascending order):

  1. High Card - If none of the players have at least a pair in their hand, then the winner is the player who has the highest ranked non pair hand.
  2. One Pair - Two cards of the same rank. If two players have the same pair, then additional cards are compared starting with the highest ranking card.
  3. Two Pair - Two pairs of cards of the same rank. When two players have a two pair hand, the winner is determined by the hand that has the highest ranked pair.
  4. Three of a kind - Three cards of the same rank. If a player has a pocket pair and another card of the same rank comes on the board, this combination is called a set. If the board has a pair of cards, which coincide with the players' hole cards, this combination is called trips.
  5. Straight - Five consecutive cards, regardless of suit. If straights have two players, the winner is determined by the highest card straight.
  6. Flush - Five cards of different ranks, but the same suit. Seniority is determined by the highest ranking card.
  7. Full House - A hand that consists of a combination of pairs and three of a kind. Seniority is determined by the highest ranked three of a kind.
  8. Four of a kind - Any four cards of the same rank. If two players have the same four of a kind hand, the winner is determined by the kicker (the highest fifth card).
  9. Straight Flush - The second best hand in Texas Hold’em is five consecutive cards of the same suit. The winner is determined by the highest card.
  10. Royal Flush - The best poker hand in Texas Hold’em is five consecutive cards of the same suit from ace through to ten.


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