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Short Guide to Texas Hold 'Em
There are 52 cards in a standard deck of cards, numbered 2-10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace of four different suits (clubs, hearts, spades, and diamonds). Poker is a game of odds, luck, and skill. The winner is chosen based on the best five played cards according to this chart:
Texas Hold 'Em
Texas Hold 'Em is one of the most popular versions of poker played in the world. All of the poker tournaments you see on TV are Texas Hold 'Em games. There are rules and regulations surrounding the big-time games, but if you are just playing at home, here are a few tips to beating your friends.
1st Rule in my Poker Rule Book: Keep your face empty of emotion! If you get good cards, don't let anyone know it!
2nd Rule: NEVER fold if you can check. That's kind of a "duh" rule, but you would be surprised.
3rd Rule: Don't cheat! You'll never learn that way. Cheating includes: spying on your neighbor's cards, not speaking up when you see a card and no one else does (for instance, if the dealer picks the deck up and you see the bottom card), etc.
4th Rule: Try to be friendly and not call each other names! This is a GAME and you competitive people get really mean sometimes!
5th Rule: HAVE FUN! Duh!
Commonly used terms:
Flop- The first three cards shown
Turn- The fourth card shown
River- The fifth and final card/all five cards shown in the center of the table
Bet- A bet is when you place chips into the center of the table
Call (or See)- When you match another player's bet
Fold- When you decide you don't want to play the cards you have
Raise- When you add more chips to another player's bet (i.e. raising the bet)
Check- When no bets have been made, on your turn you have the choice to check, which basically means pass without betting; however, if someone after your turn bets, when it comes back to you, you either have to call it, raise it, or fold (you cannot check if there is a bet on the table).
Limp- "Limping" in is when you call the bare minimum bet in order to see the flop
Other common terms:
Pocket- Your two cards are your "Pocket" cards
Bullets- when you have a pair of aces in your pocket
Chasing- When there is a possible winning hand but you are missing one or two cards yet you continue to bet, call, or raise trying to "catch" it.
Runner- That elusive card that you need to complete a hand
Playing your Hand
Playing poker is easy; winning, well that is another story. Remember that you aren't just playing the odds, you are playing other PEOPLE who want to WIN just as bad as you do! They will bluff, raise you with "crap" cards, and overall try to intimidate you into folding. SO, keeping that in mind, playing your cards becomes slightly tricky. Remember, even if you think you have a good starting hand (pocket pairs, suited face cards, etc.) you can easily lose to "lesser" cards if they are played right. Play your hands aggressively! If you think you have good cards, bet and raise others. Try to push people out of the hand, but if you think you are beat, FOLD those cards! If you make someone question whether they should call your bet, GOOD! One thing I have learned is that Hold 'Em is a game of people more than cards.
Keep in mind that pocket pairs can get you into trouble because they don't have as many "outs." What I mean by that is when you have, say, pocket 2s, the best possible hand you are looking at is probably a full house or four of a kind. It is possible to catch a straight flush or royal flush, but that means almost all of the winning cards are going to be on the river. However, if you have say, suited King/Queen, the Royal Flush and straight flush are both possible. Also, there are only four 2s in the entire deck while there are plenty of aces, jacks, and tens to make a straight.
Then there are the "lesser" cards. Statistically, 7 2 off suited is the worst possible hand to hold in your pocket. Why? Well, even though you have a chance to catch a full house, the chances that someone has a higher full house are pretty good. Also, there is no chance whatsoever to make a straight or flush with these two cards. I'm not saying that you cannot win with 7 2 off suit, but based on Hold 'Em odds, this hand is the worst! Fold it!
Other combinations like 3 9 off suit, I feel, are equally as bad. The straight is out unless one of your cards plays and again, someone probably has you beat. The best hand you are likely to get is a full house, which is hard to catch anyway. Again, you should probably fold.
However, there are some cards that may not seem that good at first, but work out for you in the end. Like Ace 5 off suit. This is the sort of hand that can really win it for you if you play it right. You have the ace, which if another ace comes out on the board you will have the highest pair even though your 5 isn't really a good kicker. You can make a straight with this hand, but can also get beat with a six. It's just one of those hands that sort of falls in the gray area (it's not great but it doesn't suck).
Overall, just play the cards the way you think they should be played. If you think you have the best hand, play it big! Try not to go all in before the flop though!
Some additional tips:
- Be selective of the hands you play
- Always be aware of the best possible hand and play accordingly
- Tip your dealer when you win!
- Only bluff if you have a 50% chance of making it work, and don't try to bluff more than two players
- Never show your cards unless you have to or otherwise let others know what your hand was, this information should not be given for free!
- Quit while you are ahead, but not while you are winning! Push your advantage as far as possible.
- Set a loss limit if playing for real money! Once you lose it, quit playing! Poker is not worth going into debt.