Texas Holdem is probably the most popular form of poker and is played worldwide. Here is all you need to know about playing Texas Holdem.
How to Play Texas Holdem
Today we are going to take a look at the Texas Holdem Poker rules and how to deal Texas Holdem, so that you are fully equipped for your first or next game of Texas Holdem, or click here to learn how to play poker. Texas Holdem Poker is a simple game with just a few basic rules: All players are initially dealt two private cards (hole cards) no one else is allowed to see. Then the dealer spreads out five more communal cards face upwards – first three, then one, then one more. Therefore, all players in the game can make use of seven cards (2 hole cards + 3 + 1 + 1) to create their optimal five-card hand. So Holdem allows players to assemble poker by selecting any combination of the five face-up cards on the table, plus two, one (or none) of their own two hole cards.
Betting occurs before and after the communal cards are revealed, and the best poker hand ranking is the one that scoops the pot. Texas Holdem games can feature four kinds of betting:
- Holdem ‘limit’, which applies a cap to every betting round.
- Holdem ‘no limit’, in which players are free to bet any amount
- Holdem ‘pot limit’, where the bet limit is the total of the pot
- Holdem ‘mixed’, which alternates limit and no-limit rounds.
Starting and Playing the game
Terminology and Basic knowledge
So, you’re ready to play? Let’s get started with some basic poker betting terminology to round off your skills. During a betting round, each player will have three options, to call, to raise or to fold.
When you ‘call’ it signals that you neither want to raise nor fold and will continue to participate in the game by matching the betting amount of the big blind. When you ‘raise’ you are simply increasing the betting amount which will need to be matched by any players who wish to stay involved.
Finally, if you ‘fold’ it signals that you no longer wish to carry on betting and you forfeit your hand and all the money you have already bet during the current game.
Notice ‘the dealer button’, a marker indicating which player is the nominated dealer for the current game. Before starting any game, the player immediately left of the button posts the initial forced bet (the small blind). Then the player next left again posts the ‘big blind’. This is usually twice the amount of the small blind, but can sometimes vary.
Upon viewing their private hole cards, players can call or raise the big blind. The action moves clockwise from the big blind, and each player may fold, call or raise. There is betting at every round which continues until all players (except those who have chosen to fold) have put the same bets in the pot.
At this point the dealer places three cards on the table, face upwards – an action called the ‘flop’. These communal cards are available to every player remaining in the game with a live hand. Flop betting starts with the player immediately left of the button. Betting options are much like the pre-flop, but when no one has previously bet, a player can decide to check and pass the action clockwise to the next player.
When the flop round betting is finished, the ‘turn’ card is placed on the table, face upwards. The appearance of this fourth communal card triggers another round of betting. Once again this starts with the player immediately left of the button.
When the turn round betting is finished, the ‘river’ card is placed on the table, face upwards. This is the fifth and last of the communal cards in Texas Holdem games. A final round of betting ensues, again starting with the player immediately left of the button.
Where more than one player remains in the game after the final betting round, the last player to bet or raise shows their cards first. However, if there were no bets in the final round, the person immediately left of the button will be the first to show. The winner is the player with the best poker hand ranking. Where players present identical hands, the pot is split equally between those with the best poker hands.
Difference between Poker and Texas Holdem Poker
The most obvious difference between classic poker and Texas Holdem poker is that it is a community card game. Another key difference is the number of cards that you make use of, which is seven in Holdem vs most commonly five in classic poker.
The chances of winning are also much larger in Texas Holdem poker due to the fact that there is the no limit option for betting. One other difference is that the strategy employed for playing can be very different, with different rankings for winning hands too.
How to deal
First off shuffle the deck. Deal two hole cards to each player. Accept bets in the preflop until all players have matched the biggest raise or folded. Then head to the next round, the flop.
Burn the top card and put it face down on the table then place the top three cards in the deck face up in the middle of the table. Then commence the next betting round. After the players have finished raising, checking or folding, head to the next betting round, the Turn and River.
As the dealer, burn another card and then place the next card face up, this is known as the ‘turn’ card. The final betting round commences after this where the dealer burns yet one more card and then deals the ‘river’ card.
After the betting round is finished, players enter the ‘showdown’ where they then reveal their cards if they are still in the game and the winner is determined based on the Texas Holdem Poker rankings, see below.
Texas Holdem Poker Rankings
To do well at Holdem poker, you need to understand which are the best Texas Holdem starting hands and ranking order and know how to play at any particular point in the game.
The classic poker starting hand, pocket aces represent a strong pre-flop contender to beat any other two cards and give you a 4:1 chance against virtually any other hand. Expect to receive these ‘pocket rockets’ only once in 221 hands, but note that when more players stay in the game your winning odds reduce – so the best outcomes will always be against fewer opponents.
Pocket kings will triumph over any hand – other than aces. Very few flops will cause you concern. But bear in mind that kings will only better a hand containing one ace around two in every three occasions. With pocket kings, you can usually rely on getting your money at the pre-flop phase.
Remember that when you receive pocket queens there are only eight stronger cards still in the deck. And that total could be less if you’re up against a player holding an ace, a king, or perhaps ace king. Push this hand hard before the flop, raising and/or re-raising most of the time. You’ll find plenty of opponents ready to commit with far weaker Texas Holdem hands.
While ace-king suited is not a hand to fall in love with, neither is it a weak combination because you still have a good chance against many pocket pairs. It’s just that when you fail to connect with the flop, all you really hold is an ace-high.
This Texas Holdem hand gives you 50:50 against any unpaired hand, and comes out a decent pre-flop favourite to outdo any lower pocket pair. It should be considered a very promising hand, but just be wary when an opponent makes an early-position raise.
Another strong starting hand, pocket tens mean you won’t have to hit that third ten on the flop to survive. Half the time, pocket tens can still outdo overcards, but are not anything like as secure as a pocket jack combination. Where you see a lot of action before you’re in, it’s sometimes best to fold your tens before the flop.
This hand won’t beat an offsuit ace-king, yet it gains a superior ranking because it is quite strong against other starting poker hands. And remember, if you should completely miss the flop, an ace-queen combination should still keep you clear of trouble.
A weaker poker hand ranking than its suited option, an ace-king offsuit has less chance of hitting a flush. However, this combination is still a 4-in-10 winner against other poker hands – except kings and aces.
A suited ace-jack, like its ace-king or ace-queen counterparts, has the potential to deliver a royal flush. But take care if an opponent has raised early. And don’t forget that an ace-king or ace-queen combination will still beat your ace-jack.
A king-queen suited poker hand can give you plenty of flushes and straights, and hitting just one pair could leave you with a strong hand. And if you sense there are stronger Texas Holdem hands around, you should also be able to handle folding this combination quite easily.
Tips to play Texas Holdem Poker
The best thing a newcomer can do when starting to play Holdem is to make use of one of the practice games which allow you to play with fake money and get a feel for how the game works. Thorough research and practice will save you a lot of stress and money.
Get familiar with Holdem strategy. As previously mentioned, the strategy used in Holdem varies significantly from classic and other forms of poker. Understanding the good strategies to employ will also save you a lot of stress and money.
Using bluffing effectively can be the key to a good poker player, no matter the variant you are playing. This may be to make people think you have a better hand than you have, but it may also be to try and play down your hand by doing passive actions such as checking when you hold a strong hand.
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