Texas Hold’em Basics

Texas Hold'em

Texas Hold'em

Texas Hold’em is probably the most popular version of poker being played today. The feature event of the World Series of Poker, and the World Poker Tour are their No Limit Texas Hold’em tournaments, and tens of thousands of players are playing Hold’em online at any given moment.

This version of poker can be played by two to ten people at a time. It is, like most great games, easy to learn, but very difficult to master. Each player is dealt two cards. Those cards belong to the player and that player alone. They are the “hole” cards.

Then, a round of betting takes place. What happens during a round of betting is that each player is asked, in turn, if they would like to stay in the hand. In order to do that you must contribute as much to the pot as everyone else has.

So, if no one has bet, and you’d like to stay in the hand, you have two options. You can “check” meaning, “I’d like to stay in the hand, but I don’t want to put any money in the pot.” And, since no one else has put anything into the pot, you can simply Check and it costs you nothing. Or, if you like your cards, and think you have a good chance of winning, you may make the first bet.

If someone has already bet when it comes your turn to act, you may bet, raise, or fold. If you don’t want to pay the money to stay in the hand, simply give your cards to the dealer and Fold. If you would like to continue playing, since all players must contribute to the pot equally, you must match the bet(s) that were made before it was your turn to act. And, if you really like your chances of winning the pot, you may increase the amount of the bet by Raising it.

Next comes “the flop”. The dealer turns over three cards, face up in the middle of the table. These cards are “community cards” and everyone shares them. Each player is trying to make the best hand they can by using their own two hole cards, and any of the shared cards on the table.

After the flop players have a better idea of how strong their hand is, and another round of betting takes place.

The dealer then turns over a single card, called the turn (or fourth street in some circles).

Another, the third, round of betting takes place.

The dealer turns over the last card, called the river (or fifth street). Players now try to make the best five card hand they can by combining their hole cards with the community cards on the table. Players can use one, both, or none of their own hole cards in making the best hand they can.

The final round of betting takes place. Any remaining players show their cards, and the best hand wins the pot.

That is how a hand of Texas Hold’em is played, basically.

Texas Hold’em is a form of poker, and in poker the skill is in the betting. So, let’s look at the betting that takes place in a Hold’em game.

First, there are different types of Texas Hold’em, named for the style of betting that they use. There is fixed limit betting, pot limit betting, and the famous no limit betting. Pot limit and no limit poker are versions of the game that are suited for the advanced Hold’em player. Players learning the basics should spend their time playing fixed limit Hold’em.

In a fixed limit game, the amount that a player is allowed to bet is set ahead of time, and the table is often referred to by this amount. A $2/$4 Hold’em game, or a $5/$10 Hold’em game tells players the amount of the bets at that table. Online card rooms deal Texas Hold’em games for limits as low as $.01/$.02. The first of the two numbers is the amount of a bet during the first two rounds of play. The second number is the cost of a bet during the second two rounds of betting.

So, in a $2/$4 Hold’em game, players receive their cards. Then during that first round of betting, a bet is $2. No more, no less. If you choose to raise, you can raise by $2, no more, no less. If someone chooses to re-raise, they may re-raise, by $2. Most poker rooms stop, or cap, the betting at four bets. Then they deal the next card(s).

The second round of betting is the same. Bets are in increments of $2.

On the third and fourth round of betting the bets are doubled. In our example, they would be fixed at $4. Which again is why the table is referred to as a $2/$4 Hold’em table.

If keeping track of the betting seems confusing, do not worry. If you are playing at a poker room, either online or in a casino, they will keep track of it for you. You will be prompted to bet when it is your turn to act, and they will gently remind you of the amount of the bet.