How to Play the Poker Game Texas Hold ‘em
Texas hold ‘em has taken the world by storm over the last decade or two. The game has been heavily televised in recent years and many of the best players have become celebrities. Texas hold ‘em is now the most popular poker game in nearly all traditional casinos and is offered by online casinos as well.
Structure of the Game
Each player is dealt two cards face down. These are called the pocket cards. The game can be played by as few as 2 players and as many as 22, but the best games are typically with 10 or 11 players. There is no ante, but instead the first two players to the left of the dealer (button) must put up ½ of the small bet and the small bet, respectively.
Limits are usually in a two to one ratio, such as $1-$2, $2-$4, $3-$6, and so on. So in a $2-$4 limit game the small blind is one-half of the small bet, or $1 and the big blind is $2, the same as the small bet. The small bet refers to the betting amount allowed through the flop round. The large bet is required for the turn and river rounds. There is usually a three raise limit per betting round. There is no going “all in” in games with betting limits.
Initial Round of Play
The person to the left of the big blind starts the betting, which then proceeds clockwise around the table. Each player in turn must either fold, call (match the big blind bet), or raise the bet by the small amount. The amount of the bet and any raise is the small limit.
After the initial round of betting is finished, the dealer “burns” a card (discards it) and deals the “flop,” consisting of the next three cards, face up. Again, the person to the left of the big blind is the first to bet. He can either check (pass with no bet) or bet the small limit. Each player in turn can check if no bet has been made, fold, call or raise. Checking is not possible once a bet has been made.
After the Flop betting round is completed the dealer burns another card then deals the next, or “Turn” card face up. As always, the person to the left of the big blind is the first to bet. He can now either check (pass with no bet) or bet the large limit. Each player in turn can check if no bet has been made, fold, call or raise. Remember, in poker checking is not possible once a bet has been made.
A fifth and final card is dealt face up. This is called the “River” or end card. There is then a final betting round the same as on the Turn round.
This is when all the players who have not folded along the way turn over their pocket cards. Each player and the dealer determines his or her highest five card hand from the two pocket cards and the five cards face up on the table. The player with the highest five card poker hand wins the pot, or if there is a tie the players tying split the pot.
Reasons for the Popularity of Texas Hold 'em
Compared to other poker games, Texas hold ‘em has bigger pots because more players can play in the Hold ’em game, and competition for the best hand is greater. It’s easier to know when to fold and you can fold on your pocket cards if they aren’t really good. The game is faster as well, than, say, seven card stud. So you can win more, faster, and lose less in the game of Texas hold ‘em.
If you decide to play Texas Hold ‘em make sure you read a book or two to get clear ideas about winning strategies. The game has a number of subtleties. Plus:
- Don’t play “no limit” games unless you can afford to lose a small fortune by going “all in.”
- Don’t play poker unless you have money that you can afford to lose.
- Don’t play any game for money if you have an addictive personality.
- Be very careful playing poker online. It's difficult to tell which online games are honest.