Texas Hold em is not hard. There are simple Hold em rules that you will need to understand to get in the game. If you already know how to play Texas Hold em then you may start playing/practicing.
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In a Texas hold em game, the poker table must have at least 2 people to start the game. Usually a full table consists of 10 players. Other than the players, there will be a dealer who deals the cards, regulates the game flow, and shuffles the deck after the game. Texas hold em uses one full deck of cards, unlike multiple-deck blackjack 21 games. You win the pot if you have the best hand amongst other players. In each game, you will be given two pocket cards, and the dealer will deal out five community cards for all players to use. You make your hand with your two pocket cards and the five community cards. Keep in mind that the five community cards are for everyone to make their best possible hand.
On the poker table, there is a button labeled "Dealer" that is placed in front of a player designating that player to be the dealer (no, do not be confused with the card dealer, players don't need to deal cards. They just play =). All it means is that this player is in the dealer's position and will be the last player to act (to check, raise, fold, call, etc. See below for explanation for each action.), except for the first round of betting. After each game, or showdown, or whatever you call it, the button is rotated to the next player in a clockwise fashion, so that each player gets an equal chance to act last. Like other card games, players are required to put out ante (In Texas hold em we call it a blind). What's different with Texas hold em is that not every player is required to put out a blind. If they chose to play, two players to the left of the dealer are required to put out a blind (so-called small blind, and big blind. Player immediately to the left of the dealer will need to put out a big blind, and the player to his/her left needs to put out a small blind) before any cards is dealt. Therefore, players not in the small blind or big blind position can simply fold to their hands if they chose to, without putting out their blinds. Depending on the tables you are playing at, small blind is usually half the amount of big blind.
After the blinds are put out by the players, each player is dealt two cards faced down. Players can pick up the cards once they are dealt to them. These 2 cards are called pocket cards. After the pocket cards are dealt, the first round of betting occurs. The player to the left of the player putting out a small blind will take action first. The player can either put in his blind, raise, or fold. He can never check because this first round of betting determines who wants to stay in the game (however, if no one raised, the player who put out the big blind before the pockets cards are dealt can check). If he chooses to raise, the rest of the players will need to call or raise to stay in the game. The last person to take action in the first round of betting is not the dealer, but the player who put out the small blind (he must bet at least equal amount to the big blind to stay in the game, like everyone else).
The flop refers to the first 3 community cards that are dealt by the dealer, after the first round of betting is complete. The 3 community cards are placed faced up, in the center of the poker table. At this point, second round of betting begins. The player to the left of the dealer acts first, and the dealer acts last.
The turn refers to the 4th community card that is dealt by the dealer, after the second round of betting is complete. Similarly, third round of betting begins like the second round of betting.
Finally, the river, the 5th and last community card that is dealt by the dealer, after the third round of betting is complete. Players perform one last betting. At the point, the pot can get rather large as it has gone through three rounds of betting already. Once betting is complete, it's what I called showdown! The remaining players (those who have not folded, are still in the game) will reveal their hands and the player with the best hand wins the whole pot!
Check, Raise, Fold, and Call Actions
When it is your turn to act, you may check, raise, fold, or call, depending on previous players' actions. I will explain what each term means.
Raising can be done when it's your turn to take action. You can be the first player to raise, or you can raise after other players' raises. The amount of raise you can make depends on what type of table you are playing.
When you fold, you go out of the game, and you are not getting your money that you have contributed to the pot back. You usually fold your hand when you feel that your hand is not strong enough to compete with other players (Some of you might chose to raise instead of to fold, and hope the other players will fold to your raise. In such case, you are bluffing, a very common technique to turn the card game around and win the pot). Other players can take the action to raise you and make you fold. When you fold, you throw in your cards and wait until the next game to start.
When you call, you mean "You've raised, I will match your raise" and thereby you're staying in the game, and contributed more money into the pot. You can also bring the stake higher by calling, and raising more. In this case, the next player to act will need to call the total raise amount made by other players to stay in the game.
You call check when you do not wish to raise, and wants to stay in the game for the next community card. It's almost like saying "Pass." You can only check when there were no raises made by other players, and you may not check in the first round of betting (the betting round after the pocket cards are dealt) unless you have put out your share of the blind to the pot.
As you probably already know, each poker deck has 52 playable cards. It consists of 13 numbers: Ace (1), 2, 3, 4, ..., J, Q, K
There are 4 cards per number (thus, 4 x 13 =
52) and each of the 4 cards per number has a different suit:
The 4 different suits
A Note on Notation:
We will use shorthand notation throughout this article. Some examples:
8c = 8 of club
As = Ace of spade
Jh = Jack of heart
10d = 10 of diamond
A poker hand is made up of 5 cards. In Texas
Hold'em you make the best hand out of a total of 7 cards (pocket
cards, the flop, the turn, and
The table below shows that a "Straight flush" is the
strongest hand - and consequently very hard to obtain.
|Royal Flush||A,K,Q,J,10 all same suits||Ah Kh Qh Jh 10h|
|Straight Flush||Consecutive #s, same suit||6s 7s 8s 9s 10s|
|Four of a kind||Four cards of the same #||Q Q Q Q 2|
|Full House||Three of one #, Two of another #||2 2 5 5 5|
|Flush||All the same suit||2h 5h 9h Qh Kh|
|Straight||Consecutive #s||6 7 8 9 10 (suits are different)|
|Three of a kind||Three cards of the same #||8 8 8 X X|
|Two Pairs||Two Pairs of cards with the same #||3 3 9 9 X|
|Pair||Single pair of cards with the same #||Q Q X X X|
|High card||Highest # card you have in hand||3 9 6 Q K (K is the high card)|
X = any card, does not matter what it is
Type of Tables
Before you sit down at a table to play Texas hold em, it is a good idea to find out what type of table you are playing in. You want to make sure it's the type of table that matches your playing level.
For example, the least expensive table is rated
Stakes $0.50/$1.00 Minimum Buy In $5.00 Small Blind $0.25 Big Blind $0.50
Stakes summarizes the big blind and the maximum raise amount, which is $0.50 and $1.00, respectively. This implies that the small blind is $0.25 (half of the big blind), and that to stay in the game to see the flop you must chip in at least $0.50 considering no one player raises during the first round of betting. The $1.00 maximum raise amount implies that each time you want to raise, or call & raise, you are only allowed to raise a maximum of $1.00.
Minimum buy in of $5.00 is required. This implies that each player must come with $5.00 to be eligible to sit at this table. Therefore, as you can see, the above table is not very expensive to play and is usually good for beginners.
There are also other types of table such as
Stakes $25/NL-PL Minimum Buy In $25.00 Small Blind $0.25 Big Blind $0.50
This type of table has the same blind amounts, but requires the player to buy in at least $25.00 of wagers to sit at the table. The stakes are a bit higher. NL stands for No Limit, and PL stands for Pot Limit. In a NL table, each raise does not have a limit (whatever wager the players has in hand can all be raised). In a PL table, the raise amount is limited to the current amount of the pot.
Where to Play & Practice
Certainly you can gather a few friends on a Friday night and start playing Texas hold em. For those who loves hold em but have no friends who share the same hobby can be a little lonely on Friday nights =).
Internet poker has become extremely popular. There are only a few established online poker rooms found on the internet. One of the largest is, no doubt, Party Poker. They have literally millions of people playing poker online, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
My Texas hold em Yahoo! Group
I'm always welcoming new players to come online for a session of Texas hold em. I've created a Yahoo! Group dedicated to just Texas hold em for beginners and experienced alike and we talk about Texas hold em rules, Texas hold em strategy, and I host private tables and invite my buddy list to play.
Lastly, thanks for reading this guide and I hope to see you on Party Poker for Texas hold em.
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