What is Texas Hold ‘Em?
Texas Hold ‘Em is a popular variation of Poker, where you are dealt 2 ‘hole’ cards, and 5 community cards are dealt in the center of the table. Texas Hold ‘Em is the most popular of all poker variations. Internationally famous tournaments like the World Series of Poker play this game.
The object of Texas Hold ‘Em is to use the ‘hole’ cards you are dealt, along with the 5 community cards, and try to make or build the best possible hand with 5 of those cards. If you don’t use either of your ‘hole’ cards, and your best hand consists of the 5 community cards, this is known as ‘playing the board.’
The Basic Mechanics of Texas Hold ’Em:
• You and other players are dealt 2 ‘hole’ cards, for your eyes only.
• The dealer deals 5 community cards
◦ 3 face up (the flop) and two face down (the return and the river).
• You and other players bet pre-flop, post-flop and then after the return and river.
• The best hand wins.
Texas Hold ‘Em Explained
Dating back to the beginning of the 20th century, Texas Hold ‘Em originated officially in Robstown, Texas. In the 1960s, when the four stages of the betting structure caught on in Las Vegas, Texas Hold ‘Em became a very popular game to play strategically.
Texas Hold ‘Em is the official game played in the World Series of Poker.
The possible action strategies of Texas Hold ‘Em are so extensive that it can become very complex when playing at higher levels. Despite this, the basics of the game are very easy to learn.
The game of Texas Hold ‘Em moves in a clockwise direction around the table, starting to the left of the dealer button. The first 2 players to the left of the dealer button are required to post a small blind bet and a large blind bet to initiate the betting, and get the action going. From this point, the action takes place on the pre-flop, the flop, the turn, and the river. These are also referred to as ‘streets.’
Texas Hold ‘Em Button
The button placement shows which player at the table is currently the dealer. The dealer, or the last active player at the table, is seated in late position, which gives them an advantage by seeing the opponents action before deciding how to bet.
Playing Texas Hold ‘Em online relieves you the worry about who the dealer is, or will be, because it is pre-determined automatically through the program. However, when playing in person at a land-based casino or poker room, everyone at the table gets a turn at dealing the cards.
Before the game begins, the starting dealer is determined by everyone being dealt one card facing up, and the player with the highest card is the starting dealer. From that point, after each hand is complete, and a winner is decided, the button moves one position to the left in a clockwise direction.
Texas Hold ‘Em Blind Bets
Blind bets acquired their name through the fact that the 2 players who are obligated to post these bets must do so before the cards are even dealt, therefore they are placing bets on their hand before they even know what cards they will be dealt, hence the name, ‘Blind Bets.’
Before every new game, 2 players at the table are obligated to post blind bets, also known as forced bets. Blind bets begin the wagering, and without them, no-one would be required to put money in the pot, which would make for a very boring game of Texas Hold ‘Em.
During a poker tournament, the blind bets are raised regularly because as players are eliminated, the number of players decreases, while the stacks of the players remaining continue to grow larger and larger.
In cash games, the blind bets will always stay the same for the specified limit of the game played.
The player seated directly to the left of the dealer button posts the ‘Small Blind,’ and the player seated directly to the left of the small blind player posts the ‘Big Blind.’
The amounts of the blind bets are typically determined by the specified table stakes, usually in the format of $1 / $2. Using these numbers as an example, the small blind player would be required to place a bet in the amount of $1, and the big blind player would be required to place a bet of $2.
Aim of Texas Hold ‘Em
Of course, winning is the ultimate goal, however to do this, you will need to be holding the best combination of cards, or have the strongest hand of cards.
Texas Hold ‘Em is a game of community cards, where 5 cards are displayed at different times throughout the game, as the betting continues.
The community cards are used in conjunction with the 2 hole cards that each player is dealt in the beginning, which remain concealed to every player other than the player to whom the cards are dealt. These are known as ‘hole’ cards, and the hoe cards remain concealed until after the final betting round, during the ‘showdown.’
The 5 community cards in the middle of the table are displayed on the flop, the turn, and the river. The flop consists of the initial 3 community cards revealed, then the turn reveals the fourth community card, and the river completes the board revealing the fifth community card.
When the community cards are revealed, they are visible to every player at the table, and once all 5 of the community cards are revealed, you have to make the best hand possible using 5 of the 7 cards: the 5 community cards and your 2 hole cards.
This can be accomplished using both of your hole cards with 3 community cards, 1 hole card with 4 community cards, or zero hole cards with 5 community cards as your hand, which is known as ‘playing the board.’
The player with the strongest hand is the winner, and takes the pot.
Texas Hold ‘Em Betting Action
First Betting Round (Pre-Flop Action): Immediately following all the hole cards being dealt to all players at the table, the first betting round takes place. The first player required to act is the person seated to the immediate left of the big blind. This player is known as ‘under the gun.’
The ‘under the gun’ player has 3 betting options:
Call: Matches the Big Blind bet.
Raise: Increases the Big Blind bet according to the table limits.
Fold: Throwing in your cards.
If any player decides to fold, they are no longer eligible to win the current hand, or the pot.
Depending on the betting structure of the game being played, your bets are placed in the following manner:
Fixed Limit Hold ‘Em: Raises can only be in the amount of the Big Blind bet.
Pot-Limit Hold ‘Em: Raises can only be a maximum of the pot amount at the time of your bet.
No-Limit Hold ‘Em: Raises can be done in any amount up to the maximum amount of your stack. Betting all of your chips is known as being ‘all-in.’
Any players thereafter have the same 3 options; to call, raise, or fold.
Second Betting Round (The Flop): After the pre-flop betting round completes, the flop cards, or the first 3 community cards, are revealed. The second betting round follows, starting with the first active (remaining) player to the left of the dealer button.
Players now have 4 options for betting, which are to call, fold, raise, or check. If no player has placed a bet during the round, the next player to bet has the option to check, which is to place a bet of zero dollars to the pot in order to stay in the game. What this is actually doing is passing the betting action to the next player in the hand.
Third Betting Round (The Turn): Once the second round of betting, or flop, is complete, the fourth community card is revealed, another betting round takes place. This betting round is performed in the same manner as the previous. Again, all active players have the option to call, fold, raise, or check.
Final Betting Round (The River): After the third betting round, or turn, is complete, the fifth and final community card is revealed. Another betting round takes place, performed in the same way as the two previous betting rounds
Once the betting round is complete, any remaining players in the hand with hole cards now expose their cards to determine the winner. This is known as the ‘showdown.’
Showdown: In the showdown, upon revealing their hole cards to everyone at the table, with the dealer’s help, a winning hand is decided. The winner with the strongest, or best, hand takes the pot. In the case of a tie, the players holding the tied hands of cards are to split the pot between them.