There are multiple poker variants which are offered throughout land-based casinos and poker rooms, as well as numerous online poker sites. Poker players nowadays have a lot of options when it comes to choosing where will they poker. There are reasons that go in favour of online poker, especially it is a lot simpler and more convenient to play online.
Texas Hold’em is one of the most popular variants of community poker, but it is safe to say that it is one of the most popular variants of poker in general. The gameplay features the standard stages for a game of community poker. Each player is dealt a set of two cards which are faced downwards, and then 5 community cards are dealt.
Between two and nine players can participate in a game of Texas Hold’em poker. The game runs faster when there are fewer players, but generally speaking, even if the number of participants is larger, the game is pretty fast and exciting. After the players are dealt two cards each, then the first three community cards are dealt. These three cards are collectively referred to as ‘the flop’. Then another community card is dealt (known as ‘the turn’) and then the fifth and last, aka, ‘the river’.
Players have several options in during the process when the cards are dealt and we will explain that in detail below. The goal of each player is to form the best possible combination of cards from their personal two cards and the five community cards. The principle, like in other poker games is that the winner takes all the bets that are on the table, and the rest of the players get nothing.
How to Play Texas Hold’em
Texas Hold’em is played with a standard 52-card deck. Cards are taken at face value, after the ten comes the Jack, then the Queen and the King. The only exception is the Ace which is stronger than the King and thus the strongest card.
The game moves clockwise, and the two players left of the dealer, or the player who deals have to place the required initial wagers called blinds, there’s one large and one small blind. Then the next player after the one who paid the big blind can choose whether they want to call, raise or fold. If they fold, they leave the game without losing anything. If they call they need to meet the initial wager, and if they raise the next player will be required to bet at least as much if they want to continue.
After the first round is finished, the dealer deals one four community cards, of which the first one is faced downwards and the remaining three are facing upwards. Then the second round of betting starts, with the player who sits left of the dealer. The first player can either check or raise and once this round of betting has been concluded, the dealer again deals one hand upwards and one downwards. Then the next round begins and the betting is conducted in the same manner.
The dealer again deals one card upwards and one downwards and then the last and final round begins. After this round is over, the players are supposed to show their cards. The player who raised first in the last round is supposed to show their cards first, and if nobody raised during the last round, then the player left of the dealer shows their hand first. Those who know that they have a losing hand may or may not show their cards.
Hands and Their Value
The hands in Texas Hold’em are pretty standard. A high card is the lowest card that a player can get. It is very difficult to win with just a high card. Next is one pair. The higher the value of the pair card the better. A pair of Aces is better than a pair of Kings. Then two pairs is the next hand. If two players have two pairs, then the strongest pair of the first player and the strongest pair of the second are compared against each other. Who has a higher pair wins.
Three of a kind is stronger than two pairs. If two players have three of a kind, the same rule applies. Then we have the straight. A straight is a consecutive grouping of five cards, for example 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. The Ace can form a combination with 2, 3, 4, and 5 as well as with 10, Jack, Queen and King. Then after the straight is the flush, or a combination when there are 5 cards of the same suit. A full house is a combination of three of a kind and a pair, for example 3 Jacks and a pair of 10s.
Four of a kind, as the name suggest is a combination of three cards of the same value. A straight flush is a row of five consecutive cards that are also of the same suit. A royal flush is a combination of the strongest 5 cards – 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace of the same suit.
Wagering Limit Variants
The betting limits, i.e. the values of the small and the big blinds may vary. If you play online you choose between a range of games with different blind value depending on your bankroll and how much you’re willing to spend.
Otherwise there are three common variants:
- No Limit
- Pot Limit
The no limit used to be the version that was only played by professionals, but has later has become the most popular form of texas hold’em among pros as well as amateurs. As the name suggests, players are free to raise the bet as much as they want, or even bet all the chips that they have. The last is known as an all-in bet. If a player wants to re-raise (meet the previous raise and raise the bet further), then the value of the raise has to be at least equal of the previous raise. For example, if the big blind is 3, one player raises by 5, i.e. they bet 8, the next player will have to re-raise by at least 5 more, or wager a total of 13.
The limit version is probably the most popular one and the most commonly played win. In this version all raises during the initial and the second round have to be equal to the big blind. The wagering amounts during the second two rounds have to be of an amount twice the size of the big blind. The first amount is called ‘small bet’, whereas the second amount is called ‘big bet’.
The pot limit game has a simple maximum raise rule. Namely, no player is allowed to raise by an amount which is higher than size of the pot at that moment. The limit variant is probably the simplest one to stick to, especially if you’re new to the game, but once you gain enough experience, the other two variants can be quite exciting.
Playing Strategy and Tips
There is no strategy that can guarantee that you are going to win a hand of Texas Hold’em, but there are certainly ways to improve your winning odds. The first mistake that new players make is that they keep on betting always, even when they don’t have a good hand. The reason for this is psychological. When we sign up to play poker, we won’t to play poker, not fold and then watch the others play. However, if you want to win, you will need to be able to judge the situation and now which hands are worth playing and which aren’t.
Your position is essential when you’re playing Texas Hold’em poker. When you’re betting last you have more chances of judging and evaluating the situation based on what the others do. Moreover, if you’re not one of the two players which have to wager the small and the big blind, you can fold and without losing anything.
Another mistake that many rookies make is that they bet a lot and always raise, when they feel that they have a good hand. While that result with a larger win, it is also quite risky. It would be wiser not to raise too much and too often, especially in the early rounds. Poker is not just about cards and luck, judging other players and learning more about their style of play is perhaps more important than the cards. The cards are different each round, but if you can predict how the other play and have at least a rough estimate of how strong their hand is, you can significantly improve your winning chances.
However, if you do have a strong hand, especially if the first three community cards are already dealt, then raise high. Players who are low on cash, or a scared to take greater risks will fold. At least someone will answer your raise, and that way you can hope to win big. It is particularly wise to raise if you already have a winning hand after the first three community cards, as all those who are waiting for a card in order to form a winning hand might fold.
An occasional bluff might not be a bad idea, but make sure that you’re not too obvious and that the other players don’t read you too easily.