The Basics of Texas Holdem Poker
Texas Holdem Poker has become one of the most popular card games played today. While learning how to play poker is not a difficult task, mastering the art of Texas Holdem will take time and practice. This article will teach the basics of how to play Texas Holdem Poker step by step, providing the tools to become a great player.
Before You Start
The player should know the following information before playing in any Texas Holdem poker game:
– The ‘buy-in’ for the game
– How many participants are in the game
– The basics of Texas Holdem hands
– The ‘blind’ structure
The ‘buy-in’ is the amount of money the player must pay to play in the game. Typically, the prize pool is based on the amount of the buy-in, as well as the number of participants in the game. Regardless of the buy-in, all players start with the same number of playing chips, making the game fair and not dependent on the player’s wallet.
The more participants in the game, the larger the prize pool. It is also important to note that the larger the number of participants, the longer the game could last. The player should be mindful of this when budgeting time to play.
Texas Holdem hands are the same as regular poker hands. The player uses five cards to make the best hand. The difference is that each player will have 2 ‘hold’ cards that only they know. There are five face up cards on the board for the players to add to their hold cards in order to make the best hand. Players can use both, one, or none of their hold cards to make their best poker hand.
‘Blinds’ are considered forced bets in Texas Holdem. The player to the immediate left of the dealer is the small blind and the next player to the left is the big blind. The big blind is the amount that a player is required to wager if they want to stay in the hand. The blind structure is a predetermined progressive structure in which these forced bets increase over time.
For example, if the blind schedule starts at 50/100, the small blind is 50 and the big blind is 100, meaning to stay in the game you must bet at least 100 chips. Blinds increase on a set schedule which is told to all players before the game begins.
Getting Started – Dealing and the First Round of Betting
A typical game of Teas Holdem consists of eight to ten players at each table. Before play starts, the first dealer is determined, and blinds are posted. The dealer then deals each player two cards, starting by dealing small blind one card and going around the table in a clockwise direction, until all players have two cards. These are the players hold cards that only they see.
Betting begins with the player to the immediate left of the big blind. This player can either bet or fold their cards. To bet, the player must wager a minimum of the amount of the big blind. If the player bets more than the big blind, this is called a raise.
All player to follow must either ‘call’ this bet, raise the bet, or fold. Calling is a term used when the player just matches the largest bet made so far that round. The player can ‘raise’ if they want to bet more than the bet on the table. Raising is done by betting double or more than the amount already bet by a player that round.
When a player folds, their cards are taken out of the game and they must wait until the next hand is dealt to play. Once all players have had a turn to bet and match the highest bet on the table, that round of betting is complete, and the dealer reveals the first round of face up cards.
The Flop and the Next Round of Betting
Now that the first round of betting is over, the dealer must deal the ‘flop’. The flop is the first set up face up cards that all players that are still in the hand can use to make their best poker hand. The dealer takes one card off the deck and discards it. This is called a burn card. This is done to ensure that no players accidentally saw the card, thus having a slight advantage over the other players.
The dealer then deals three cards face up in the middle of the table for all players to see. Based on how these cards work with a player’s hold cards, the players decide if they want to bet or not.
Betting this round starts with the first player still in the hand that is left of the dealer. This player has two options. They can either bet or ‘check’. To bet, the player must wager at minimum the amount of the big blind. They can wager more if they want. The player can also check, which means they do not want to bet at this time. The next player has a few options.
They can call the best already made on the table if there is any. They can check if no bets have been made and they do not want to bet. They can fold if someone has already bet and they think their hand is not good enough to win. They can also raise if they want to bet more than the bet on the table. Like the first round of betting, all players in the hand have a change to bet, raise, or fold.
The Turn, The River, and the Rest of the Betting
After the second round of betting, the dealer deals the ‘turn’. The turn is the next face up card. After burning another card, one card is placed face up in the middle and the betting continues as it did in the second round. Once this is complete; the dealer deals the ‘river’.
The river is the last face up card, dealt in the same manner as the turn, with a burn card beforehand. This is followed by the last round of betting. Once this round is complete, the players show their hold cards to everyone and the best hand wins all the money in the pot.
Winning the Game
After every hand is dealt, the dealer position moves, and a new hand is started. Play continues until only two players are left with betting chips. When this occurs, it is called ‘head’s up’ poker. These two players continue to play and bet until only one is left with any chips.
This player is deemed the winner and will claim the lion’s share of the prize pool. Depending on how many players are in the game, the prize pool may be split among several players, so you do not necessarily have to win the game to win some of the prize pool.
With this basic information, you should now know how to play poker and hold your own while playing Texas Holdem. Although this article shows how to play Texas Holdem poker step by step, there are nuances to the game that take time to learn, such as bluffing and reading player tells. Only practice and patience will help you master these skills.