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Texas Hold’em

Texas Hold’em is one of the most widely played versions of poker worldwide. Since the early 2000s, Hold’em has taken on a life of its own, rising to become the poker game of choice for millions, thanks to its coverage on TV, and the main event at the World Series of Poker. Before you jump in to play for yourself, here’s a quick rundown of everything you need to know to get your game off to a flying start.

How It Works

Texas Hold’em can be played with limits or no limits, depending on the specific game rules. This relates to the presence or otherwise of a cap on betting. No Limits is the preferred game format for WSOP and is the most high-profile, because of its scope for massive pots to accrue and change hands.

The game starts with posting the blinds. The two players immediately to the left of the dealer must chip in a big blind and a small blind respectively — two fixed bet amounts to get the pot started, where the big blind is usually two times the small blind amount. Because the dealer function rotates around all players at the table in a clockwise direction, every player in the game will eventually be required to pitch in for both blinds, ensuring everyone is subject to the same rules.

Once the blinds have been posted, each player is dealt two cards face down. These two cards are the first insight each player gets into how their hand will pan out, before any other cards are dealt. The first round of betting commences on these cards until everyone has checked, or ‘called’ the wagers set by other players as betting moves around the table. At this stage, players can also fold for any reason, or raise with their wager amount if they want to up the stakes at this early stage.

When the first round of betting is complete, it’s time for the community cards to be dealt.

The Flop, The Turn and The River

Three cards are dealt face up, known as ‘The Flop’. These cards are the basis of the any five cards players must use to make their hand. At this stage, players have the opportunity to bet further, based on whether they feel they can make a strong or winning hand from their two hole cards and these initial three community cards. You can also choose to drop out at this stage by folding if you think it’s unlikely your hole cards will see you winning the hand.

The Turn comes next, a fourth card dealt face up on its own, before another round of betting commences. Then ‘The River’ completes the set, a fifth card dealt face up, revealing the total lineup of community cards. Players have the chance to bet for a final time, before all those still in play need to show their cards. The person with the best hand ultimately walks away with the pot, or a share of the pot where hands are tied and there is no clear winner.

Texas Hold’em is a simple game in essence, but one that presents a challenging series of dilemmas for its players. While the rules are straightforward, especially after playing a couple of hands, strategy and tactics can take a lifetime to truly master.

Especially when there are no limits in play, the amount of money on the table can quickly get serious, and players with inherently medium to strong hands often do fold early for fear of losing a bigger pot. It is in the interplay of understanding both the game and the betting side of Texas Hold’em that makes this such an engaging, tense and altogether challenging way to play poker.

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