You may have seen it on TV but never played - Texas Hold'em is the poker game taking the world by storm. Here we will give you a brief lesson in the basics of Hold'em. Read this and maybe get some cards out to simulate the action while you learn. No chips? Use paper play money!
- Texas Hold'em can be played with as many as eleven players, or as few as two, at a single table.
- An initial bet by the two players left of the dealer starts the game. This is called posting the blinds. There are no antes in Texas Hold'em, but forced bets, or blinds are used to create action.
- The small blind, which is usually equal to half the minimum bet (or big blind), is paid by the player left of the dealer.
- The big blind, which is equal to the full minimum bet, is placed by the player to the left of the small blind.
- One full deck of 52 playing cards is used in Texas Hold'em games. (In a Texas Hold'em game, a button or other marker is used to indicate which person is the "dealer" for the round.) Each player is dealt two cards facedown, which are commonly called the players hole or pocket cards.
- The player to the left of the two who posted the blinds starts the betting. This is usually referred to by the term pre-flop. Like most games of poker, players can check, raise or fold.
- Players can bet, raise, or re-raise any amount equal to or greater than the minimum bet, which should also equal the amount of the big blind.
- In No-Limit Hold'em, the maximum bet is determined by the number of chips in front of the player, or commonly known as the players stack. A player can go "all-in" by pushing all their chips, or their stack, toward the center of the table. Either the player or the dealer should count the amount of the stack to determine the exact amount of the all-in bet. To call, the other players at the table must match the value of the chips.
- In the event a player cannot match the value of another player's bet, but would still like to call, the player can go all-in and play for a portion of the pot. Should this happen, the dealer should divide the original larger bet into two stacks. The first stack should match the amount of the caller's all-in bet. This stack is pushed into the original pot along with the caller's all-in bet. The second stack is placed into a side pot for which the all-in caller is not eligible to win. This allows the rest of the table to continue playing, raising and re-raising as they normally would. At the conclusion of the hand, the all-in bettor is eligible to win the original pot, but not the side pot.
- After the initial betting round ends, the dealer discards the top card of the deck, which is called a burn card. This is done to prevent the stacking of the deck, or cheating. The dealer then flips the next three cards face up on the table. These cards are called the Flop. These are communal cards that anyone can use in combination with their two pocket cards to form their best poker hand.
- Next is another round of betting starting with the player to the left of the dealer. After the betting concludes, the dealer burns another card and flips one more card on the table. This is called the Turn card or Fourth street. Players can use this sixth card now to form their best poker hand.
- The player to the left of the dealer begins another round of betting. In many types of games, this is where the bet size doubles.
- Finally, the dealer burns another card and places a final card face up on the table. This final card is called the River or Fifth street. Players can now use any of the five cards on the table with the two cards in their pocket (or hole cards) to form their best 5 card poker hand.
- There is now a final round of betting starting with the player to the left of the dealer.
- After this round of betting, all of the players remaining in the game begin to reveal their hands. If there is no action on the final round of betting, the person closest to the dealer shows first. If there has been betting action, it is the last aggressor (bettor, raiser or re-raiser) to show first. This is called the Showdown.
- If two or more players have the same hand (such as 2 pair), the next highest card in the player's hand is used to break a tie. This is called the kicker.
- If there is no kicker card and the tied players have used both hole cards, or have the exact same hand, then the pot is split between the players.
- The dealer position then moves clockwise to the next player and another round of play begins.