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How to play Texas Holdem

The first thing you need to know if you want to be a poker pro is how to play Texas Holdem. Texas holdem is the most common poker game and the most popular on TV. If you have seen a poker tournament on TV the game they were playing was Texas Holdem. The rules might seem a bit tricky to start with and the lingo is very special. They keep saying stuff as “Well, He’s on the button so it might be good seeing a flop with the J-10 offsuit even though he’s up against big slick”. This can be confusing but the game itself is fairly easy.

How to play Texas Holdem

Starting the game of Texas Holdem

A night of Texas Holdem poker starts with getting a seat. Usually this is not something that is done as easily as getting a seat at a dinner table or in school, the usual way to go about it is to get random seats. This is most easily done by handing all players a card and seat them in order of the value on the card. The cards are valued in this order (as in the rest of the game) 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 ,J, Q, K, A. For later issues the Ace can be used both as a low card and as a high concerning straights. The first dealer is decided at the same time, either the highest or lowest card, whatever you decide.

Blinds

Before the game can start the players directly to the left of the dealer has to post blinds. A blind is a bet in the blind, before they get cards. This to make sure there is always atleast two players with money in the pot. The player directly to the left of the dealer posts small blind. Small Blind is half the amount of the big blind which is bet by the player to the left of him. The size of the blinds is agreed on before the game and if it is a tournament the size of the blind bet is increased further on. The blinds can be increased on a certain time, say every half hour, or after a certain amount of played hands.

The pocket cards

When blinds have been posted every player gets 2 cards each, in other poker games there might be a different amount of pocket cards but Texas Holdem is 2 cards. These are called the pocket cards and the player is not supposed to show them to the others. Later in the game these cards will be used together with the community cards to form the best possible hand and the best starting hand you can have is two aces, the worst a 2 and a 7.

The first round of betting

When all players have been given their pocket cards the player to the left of the big blind needs to make a decision. He needs to decide whether his pocket cards are good enough to be played (or if he wants to try to bluff). If he thinks it’s not worth playing he can fold. He doesn’t lose any money, he just forfeits his cards. If he wants to play them though he can chose between calling the big blind (betting the same amount of money) or raise (betting more). If he choses to raise he needs to bet at least 2 times the size of the big blind.

When he has done his choice it’s the next player (clockwise) that needs to make the same decision. He needs to chose if he wants to fold, call or raise. If a player before him raised he will have to bet at least that amount (calling) or even more (raising) to stay in the game. It continous like this around the table. When the guy that posted the small blind has to bet he has already put some money in to the pot and will not have to pay as much as the others. If noone raised he just needs to put as much as another small blind to cover the big. The big blind has put even more money in to the pot and if noone raised before him he can chose to check. That means he still wants to be in the hand but has no wish to further raise the stakes (as you might be aware, he has already bet as much as anyone else in that case).

The betting continous around the table like that until everyone still in the hand has bet the same amount of money or folded. There is one exception to this and that is when a player has bet all his markers (chips), he can then not be forced out of the hand by someone betting more, All in is always enough. If there is only one player left in the hand, all others folded, then this hand will end here and he will win the money in the pot.

The Flop

The next step is the flop. If there are still players in the hand the flop is dealt. Before dealing the flop the dealer must “burn” one card. Burning a card is just putting it in the discard pile, this to prevent cheating. The flop is three cards placed in the middle of the table, face up. These cards are the first three of the 5 community cards that will be dealt. Community cards means that all players can use them to form the best 5 card hand together with their pocket cards. After the flop another round of betting takes place, this time starting with the player to the left of the dealer.

The turn

When the second round of betting is finished the Turn is dealt. Just as with the flop the dealer is supposed to burn a card before placing 1 card face up on the table. This is the turn (also called fourth street). Another round of betting takes place.

The river

When the third round of betting is finished the river is dealt. As with the turn and the flop the dealer is supposed to burn one card before placing the fifth and last community card face up on the table. After the river is dealt the last round of betting takes place.

Deciding who won

If there are still more than one player in the hand it is time for showdown. The player that got called last shows his two cards. His hand is the best possble 5 card hand out of the 7 cards to chose from, 2 pocket cards and 5 community cards. The hands are in ranked like this (starting with the best) Straight flush, Quad, Full house, Flush, Straight, Set, Two pairs, Pair and last a High card. If the players after him doesn’t have a better hand they can chose not to show them (muck them). The player with the best hand wins the pot.

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