Stud poker can be traced back as early as the American Revolutionary War, where soldiers used 3 cards to play. Through the years, there have been a few changes to the game, including the use of…
Texas Hold’em is a variation of standard poker that was first introduced in Las Vegas in 1967 by a group of Texas card players. The Texas state legislature recognizes the game’s invention as occurring in the early 1900s in Robstown. In 1969, this game was included in the first poker tournament at the Second Annual Gambling Fraternity Convention, which was renamed the World Series of Poker in 1970. Texas Hold'em didn’t gain a following outside of Nevada until the 1980s, but since the early 2000s it has become the most popular form of poker in the United States. With the availability of the game on the internet, it became extremely popular all over the world and is one of the most played poker variation nowadays.
How to Play Texas Hold’em
Texas Hold’em is typically played with eight to ten people. The object of the game is to win the other players’ money. The general rules are as follows:
- The game begins with what are called blind bets. These are bets made by two players before the cards are dealt. The small blind is posted by the player to the dealer’s left and is equal to half of the big blind. The big blind is posted by the player to the small blind’s left and is equal to the minimum bet.
- Each player is dealt two cards, face down. The small blind receives the first card with the dealer receiving the last and are called hole cards.
- The hand starts with a betting round, beginning with the player to the left of the big blind and moves around the table clockwise.
- When the betting is finished the dealer deals a flop, three community cards face up on the table. This is then followed by another betting round which begins with the player to the left of the dealer (all other betting rounds will follow in this manner).
- When the betting round ends, another community card is dealt face up and followed by another betting round. The name of this round is the turn.
- Next, a final single community card is dealt face up. This is followed by a final betting round and a showdown, if necessary. The same of this round is the river or the fifth street.
- If a single player bets and all others fold, then the last player is awarded the pot. The player is not required to show his two hole cards.
- A showdown occurs when two or more players are left after the end of the final betting round.
- A showdown requires each player to play the best five-card poker hand. The player can use both hole cards, one hole card, or none of them if the hand can be done with all five of community cards. However, if a player uses the five community cards, then that player might have to split the pot as another player might use the same five cards for the best hand. However, the pot is split only if two players have identical hands otherwise the player with the best hand wins.
- If a hand involves fewer than five cards, for example, a pair, then a kicker is used to determine the winner. The card’s numerical rank is more important than the suit.
Understanding the Game
Texas Hold’em is considered an easy game for a beginner to learn. The rules are fairly simple and the hands are limited. The betting system is a straightforward one:
- Blind bets are made by two players at the beginning of the game before the first hand is dealt, and the big blind is what determines the minimum bet for the rest of the game.
- Antes are bets made into the pot by all players and are sometimes used along with blind bets. Antes are typically seen in the later stages of tournament poker play.
- A dealer button is used to represent the dealer during the game and moves clockwise around the table with each hand.
- Three common variations of Texas Hold’em are no-limit, limit, and pot-limit. No-limit, seen in the World Series of Poker allows players to raise the bet over the minimum up to all of their chips. Limit sets the amount of each round based on the minimum bet from the blind bet. Pot-limit means that no player can raise more than the amount of the total pot on the table.
- The deck is a standard 52 card one with no jokers.
Odds and Strategies
Since the object of Texas Hold’em is to beat the other player and not the House (the casino), the odds of winning depend on the number of players and your hands in each round. Here are some main odds you could play with:
- Higher hand – in case you have the same top card with other player, but lower kicker (for instance, king against ace or queen against king), you have approximately 24-25% chance to win.
- One pair – on the flop round you've got up to 33% to get a pair from the hole cards.
- Two pairs – if you get two pairs by the river the bigger one gives you a chance to win in 4 cases out of 5 that is approximately 80%.
- Set – in case you have a pair the chance you'll get a set is 7.5 to 1 that is not big enough, so it's better to place lower stakes if it is a small pair.
- Straight – if you have straight drawn on the flop round (8 cards could possibly complete a hand), it gives you a 31,5% chance to hit hands by the river.
- Flush – in case you have low (even suited) hands the chance you'll get flush during the flop is only 0,8% (124 to 1), so it's better to fold.
- Full house – if in the start you have two pairs the chance you'll get full house till the river is 16,74%, but it increases up to 33,4% if you get set on the flop.
- Premium hands – it is very small chance that you'll get highest hands in the start of the game (like double aces or the ace with the king) and is approximately 2,1%.
To become a successful player in Texas Hold'em you need to know and use at least a few strategies that can give you a great advantage comparing to other players. The most popular strategies are:
- Position strategy - your position at the table can affect your strategy because the dealer is always the last player to place a bet and, therefore, has the most information to work with. However, sometimes the player to the right of a dealer can have more power by raising the bet and, therefore, out him of the game and become a dealer.
- Raising strategy – it is very useful strategy if you have the best hand or want to bluff. In that case you scare and narrow weak players, and, in the same time, raise the final stakes.
- Calling strategy – players use that strategy in a few cases:
- if they want to hide that they have the best hand and raise the stakes in further rounds;
- if they have quite high odds but limited stakes' level; to stay in the game they have to call bets;
- if they are going to bluff in later betting rounds, such strategy can conceal real intentions.
There are a few tips to help you play and win Texas Hold’em.
- Select the right game – according to your skill level, funds, etc.
- Be aware of your position to the dealer. A stronger hand helps when you’re closer to the dealer.
- Don't hesitate to fold. You don't have to play every available hand and sometimes it might become your best option to save money.
- Remember that the two cards you hold are the only thing that can give you a chance to win.
- Keep in mind that other players are trying to determine how the community cards will help them win.
- Don’t reveal anything by your reaction to your hole cards. There’s a reason for the term “poker face.”
Common terms of Texas Hold’em poker include:
Hole cards - The first two cards dealt in the game to each individual player.
Kicker - A card in the five-card hand that is used as a tie-breaker to determine the winning hand.
All-In - Putting all of the chips you have in the pot.
Advertise - Making a bluff intentionally to show oneself as a loose player.
Backdoor - To make a hand that is unexpected.
Basement pair - The second or third pair on the board.
Burn - Discarding of the top card on the deck before a round to prevent reading of marked cards.
Calling Station - A player who calls a lot but does not like to raise or fold.
Connector - Two sequential cards. For instance 10 and J.
Counterfeit - When two higher pair on the board renders a pocket pair useless.
Disconnectors - Cards too far apart to make a straight.
Heads up - A pot that is being contested by two players only.
Kicker - The undeclared cards remaining in a five-card poker hand.
No fold'em hold'em - An extremely loose game.
Poker Face - To have an expressionless face.
Preflop - The round after the initial deal and before the flop.
Small bet - The amount set for early betting rounds.
Under the gun - The player in the position who has to act first in a betting round.
Texas Hold’em is one of the easiest poker games for a beginner to learn and is one of the most popular variations of poker. Its rules are very simple to understand, and you need almost no time to begin on playing. But to become a real master you need to keep on playing consistently.