Texas Hold’em is the most popular form of poker. Whilst it’s complex to understand and master the game, it’s quite easy to learn. This article is a basic guide to understanding how to play so you know what is going on next time you sit at the poker table.
The start of a hand and pre-flop
The game is played with a regular 52 card deck. A dealer deals every player (usually 6 to 9 players) 2 cards face down. Players can look at their own cards but nobody else. There are forced bets automatically placed called “blinds”. The small and big blind are immediately to the left of the dealer button. These bets invite action and ensure there is always something to be won.
There is a round of betting where players have the option to match the blinds, fold (get out the pot) or raise (invest more than the blinds). This is known as pre-flop. Action goes clock-wise with the person immediately to the left of the big blind acting first. Once this round of betting is over, the first community cards are dealt.
The second round of betting is known as the flop. This is where 3 cards are dealt face up. Players use these cards in conjunction with their own 2 cards to make the best hand possible. If you don’t know hand rankings yet, check out this texas holdem cheat sheet to see and download. Action proceeds from the left of the dealer button – players can check (invest nothing and see what happens), bet or fold. If someone bets and everyone folds, the pot is won uncontested and all chips/money is given to the winner. If bets are matched, we proceed to another round of betting known as the turn.
Another card is dealt face up from the deck. This is where things get interesting as the hand starts to take shape. There is another round of betting between players remaining in the pot. If bets are still matched i.e. bet and called or all checked, then we go to the last round of betting.
The final community card is dealt face up for players to use. This is called the river card. There are now 5 cards face up and players should have some idea whether their hand is strong or not. If bets are called, the bettor shows their hand and whoever has made the best 5 card hand wins.
Texas Hold’em is relatively easy to learn. If you are familiar with card already, learning to play should be quite straight forward. It’s one thing to know the rules and another to master the game. In order to become an expert, you need to practice lots, read literature, learn odds, pick your games wisely and practise good bankroll management.