Texas Hold’em poker is probably the most popular form of poker online played today, known in some places as Hold’em, Hold Me, and Hold Me Darling (who comes up with these names?!). It is one of the variations of Seven Card Stud poker, and its relatively simple rules make it possible for beginners to participate in a game. Those familiar with Omaha will find Texas Hold’em to be a stepped-up version of that poker game, having a smaller number of betting rounds. It is a rather quick game, so in order to master it one should practice playing it. One of the advantages of Texas Hold’em is that it enables a larger number of players to participate.
In Texas Hold’em, each player receives at the beginning of the game two cards face-down (for your eyes only). During the game the dealer puts on the table (not all at once) five cards dealt face-up, which are “community” cards. A hand of five poker cards is complied by a combination of the cards which were given face-down to the player and the cards which were dealt face-up (the communal cards). There are four rounds of bettings in Texas Hold’em, and the player with the highest ranking hand takes the pot. If before all rounds are done someone makes a bet which no one else calls, he will win the pot there and then.
How to Play the Game
The first thing to be done in a game of Texas Hold ’em is to decide on the dealer by using a disc called the “dealer button”. Before the dealer starts dealing out the cards a live bet is made by the two players who are sitting to the left of the dealer. Their bets are called “small blind” and “big blind” (It is called A live bet because it is considered part of the bets to come, and it’s called blind because the players haven’t seen any of their cards yet.) The size of blinds may defer from one game to another.
The dealer starts off by dealing two cards face-down to each player (also called “hole” cards). The betting round is opened by the player sitting to the left of the big blind, and it continues clockwise. Players have the option of betting, raising, checking or folding. The “big blind” has the right to be last in the round, and he or she may check or raise the bet.
After the first round of bets are placed, the dealer puts on the table three cards, faced up. These are community cards, also called “flops”. The player to the left of the dealer starts the second betting round. That player will also begin the remaining rounds of bets for that hand. (If he drops out, then the player to his left starts, and so on.)
Once the second round ends the dealer puts a fourth card faced up. This cards is also called the “turn” or “Fourth Street”. Then the third round of betting takes place.
The dealer then turns over the fifth and final communal card, also called the “river” card or “Fifth Street”. After this the players make their final round of betting.
The final round is followed by a showdown. The highest ranking hand takes the pot.
THE STRATEGY – Of holding on to a hand in Texas Hold’em
When to Stay in a game of Texas Hold ‘Em
One of the biggest disagreements that can be found amongst Texas Hold’em players is whether the strength of a hand is determined by the “hole” cards or not. Some would say, and we would have to agree with them, that a player should not place bets unless he has reasonably useful cards to begin with. The chances a player has of starting off with three useless cards and finishing off with a winning hand is, well, zilch, or nearly zilch.
Others would oppose to this statement, and say that when making a five card hand out of seven cards, it really doesn’t matter which cards were given first and which were given last. This claim is, to our opinion, wrong. Though surprises do occur in poker, and the final cards can sometimes make a twist of the game, this happens seldom, and one should not trust his luck so much, especially when there is money at stake. So our tip would be to play a hand only if you were given good starting cards.
Just how good should these starting cards be? That’s a great question, though its answer is kind of complex. First of all, your strategy should take into account whether you are playing a game of high limit or of low limit poker. Secondly, you should take into account the skills of the other players around your poker table. If they are experienced players who are willing to take risks, then you’ll need a pretty good starting point in order to win the pot.
You should also take into consideration that in a game of Texas Hold’em, the average winning hand would probably be three of nine. That means that if you have a pair in your “hole” cards (face-down cards) that is higher than nine, you stand a chance at winning the round. (If that pair is a King or Ace, your chances are obviously higher than if your pair consists of two tens.) If by the second to last round no high ranking cards were dealt face up, you should be suspicious that your fellow players have good hole cards too, and act accordingly.
In order to help you with your decisions, we’ve come up with a list of different possible hands, and advises as to how to take them forward.
Three cards in sequence, of the same suit
If you’ve been good the Gods are smiling to you, you should make a wish for getting three cards of the same suit in sequence. If to be more specific, your best fortune would be to receive a Queen, Jack and ten of the same suit, preferably – a heart.
With this combination of cards you have plenty of combinations possible, depending on the other cards which are dealt face-up. You can make up a Flush with any two cards of the same suit. You can make up a Straight or a Straight Flush of Ace to ten, King to nine or Queen to eight.
You stand less of a chance getting a Straight if your starting point is an Ace, King and Queen of the same suit. Though they are of the highest ranking value, they do not offer the highest chances. Cards which are “skipped”, like a Jack, nine and eight are risky, but you might want to take that risk and aim for a Straight.
If you’re not lucky enough to make a Flush or a Straight, there is still a chance to find two other Queens or Jacks, thus making a strong hand of three of a kind, which stands a chance of winning the pot. You can also make high ranking pairs with your Queen and Jack, which would make a strong two of a pair, which is also a hand worth a shot.
If you’re aiming for a Straight or a Flush and you got one card on the fourth or fifth, it is worth to stay and hope to get your last card on the sixth or seventh.
Three cards of the same suite
Let’s say you have three cards of the same suit: Queen, ten and a five. With the Queen and ten you stand some chance of making a Straight or even a Straight Flush. Having three cards of the same suit also gives you about 20% percent chances of getting a Flush, which you need only two more cards for (as oppose to three more cards for a Straight). Depending on how big the betting sums are, and how tight you are with money, it is recommendable to stay in the game even if the fourth card did not add on to your hand. Some players would quit if the fifth card happened to also be futile.
Three cards in sequence
This situation is similar to the previous one, of three making a flush. Let’s say you have Queen of Hearts, Jack of Spades and ten of Clubs. You have a pretty good chance of making a Straight, and if that doesn’t happen, you can still get high ranking pairs or three of a kind. If you have a Queen of Hearts and a Jack and a ten of Spades that’s even better, because you stand a chance of making a Flush.
Three of a kind
Having three of a kind is great, and the higher ranking – the better. However, even if they are relatively low ranking cards, we would still suggest that you try your luck and stay in the round, for if you manage to also make up a pair of cards you’ve created a Full House and will most probably win the pot. The possibility of making a pair exists till the last round of cards are dealt, so try to hang in there!
High ranking pairs
If your initial cards had a high ranking pair, it would be advisable to stay in the game even if the fourth and fifth cards offered you nothing. Same is true if the fourth or fifth rounds gave you a high ranking pair. There is still a chance that the sixth and seventh rounds will give you cards to make up two pairs, one ranking high, or even a chance for a three of a kind.
TIPS – For playing Texas Hold’em
- There are only four betting rounds in a game of Texas Hold’em. The crucial betting rounds are the last two. It is then that the winning hands are determined. Don’t be fooled to think you can know your chances before then, even when you were given three good hole cards (face down cards).
- In a game of Texas Hold’em, a player should stay in the hand if he was given “hole” cards that can make a pair or can start a relatively high straight, a flush or a straight flush.
- In a game of Low Limit Texas Hold’em., a player can stay in a game and try his chances even with just one high “hole” card of Ace or King.
- If both the fourth and the fifth round don’t offer a card to add on to your initial cards, it is best to get out of the game. True, you may still get lucky, but chances are rather small, for there are only two more rounds left.
Limit/No Limit Texas Hold’em
Texas Hold’em is one of the most challenging poker games, loved by many around the world. Hold’em has two variations to it. The first is Limit Hold’em and the second is No Limit Hold’em. Both of them are played like Texas Hold’em but have several unique rules, which we will bring here. If you don’t know how to play Texas Hold’em, read the game description there and then come back and read these rules.
Limit Texas Hold’em
Limit Texas Hold’em has basically three unique rules:
- Each betting round may contain of only one bet and up to three raises.
- Unless a player is all-in (meaning that he has already put all his money into the pot), he must call an action in every round of betting.
- On the “turn” (i.e. after the fourth up-card is put on the table) the amount of the betting doubles.
No Limit Texas Hold’em
No Limit Texas Hold’em is an exciting and challenging game which truly brings out the cleverness and sophistication of poker. This is why some like calling it “the Cadillac” of the poker world.
In No Limit Texas Hold’em large sums of money are invested. If you are not familiar with the game, and wish to be more cautious, you might want to first have a go at the game in one of the tournaments. When playing in a tournament it will be easier to control your money.
No Limit Texas Hold’em also has three unique rules:
- Maximum raise: everything you’ve got!
- Minimum raise: double the previous bet. For example, if player A bet $15 dollars player B must bet $30 dollars.
- Buy-in limit: A buy-in is the minimum amount of money a player needs to have in order to join a poker game. No Limit Texas Hold’em puts a limit on the maximum amount a table can ask a player to pay in order to join in. The reason for this is to prevent tables from being exclusively for wealthy players only. The acceptable buy-in limit these days is $50 or $100 dollars