How To Play Texas Hold´em Poker
The rules to Texas Hold’em poker are fairly straight forward and simple.
The number of players in a game can range from 2 to 10. Each player takes a turn at dealing the cards. The two players to the left of the dealer must put in blind bets. The first player puts in what is called the small blind and the second player puts in double that amount and this is called the big blind. The size of these can be anything from 0.05 £/0.10£ and up. These ensure that there is always money to be won.
First Deal – First Bet
After the blinds have been placed in the betting circle, the dealer gives each player two cards face down. Each player then views the cards and decides whether or not to bet. These two cards that each player is dealt must be combined with the cards that will shortly be dealt into the middle of the table to make a hand. Eventually there will be a total of 5 cards in the middle of the table giving each player a total of 7 cards to choose from. The strength of each players hand is dependant on the following hierarchy.
Poker hands from best to worst:
The strongest poker hand is the royal flush. Ten, Jack, Queen, King and Ace all of the same suit, e.g. spades.
The second strongest hand in poker is the straight flush. It is composed of five consecutive cards of the same suit. If two players have a straight flush, the one with the highest cards wins.
Four of a kind
A four of a kind is four cards of the same rank, e.g. four Kings. If two players have four of a kind, then the one with the highest four of a kind wins. If they have the same, then the player with the highest fifth card wins, since a poker hand is always composed of five cards.
A full house is a combination of a three of a kind and a pair. If two players have a full house, then the one with the highest three of a kind wins. If they have the same one, then the pair counts.
Five cards of the same suit make a flush. If two players have a flush, then the one with the highest cards wins.
Five consecutive cards are called a straight. If two players have a straight, the one with the highest cards wins.
Three of a kind
A three of a kind is composed of three cards of the same rank. If two players have the same three of a kind, then the other cards, or both cards, determine the winner, since a poker hand is a always composed of five cards.
Two pair hands are, of course, composed of two pairs. If two players have two pairs, the rank of the higher pair determines the winner. If they have the same higher pair, then the lower one counts. If it is also the same, then the fifth card counts.
A pair is composed of two cards of the same rank. Since a poker hand is always composed of five cards, the other three cards are so-called “kickers”. In case two players have the same pair, then the one with the highest kicker wins.
If you don´t even have a pair, then you look at the height of your cards. If there are two players at showdown who don´t have a pair, or better, then the one with the highest cards win.
A player essentially has three options each time cards are dealt: bet, raise or fold. Betting begins to the left of the big blind player, and each bet must be at least as much as that placed by the “big blind.” For example, in a £1/£2 round, the first bet must be at least £2. If the player chooses to bet, he can place £2 in the betting circle. If he chooses to raise, that raise must be in increments of £2. If the player is unsatisfied with his cards, he folds and waits for the next hand. If the little blind or the big blind choose to fold, they automatically lose their initial contributions. The little blind must match the big blind, or any subsequent raises, to continue playing.
Flop Cards – Second Bet
After all bets are in, the dealer discards the top card in the deck, known as the burn, and turns over three cards in the middle of the table. All players have an opportunity to use those three cards to get the best possible hand, along with the two cards they each have. Betting begins to the left of the dealer in increments of whatever the big blind was for that round. During this round, players can still fold, bet or raise. However, this round also introduces the option to “check,” where no bet is made in the hope that better cards will turn up in the next flop. If all players say, “check” no bets are made, but the check option is null and void once a player lays money in the betting circle.
After all betting has finished another card is dealt to the middle of the table. This next card is referred to as the Turn. Bets begin again to the left of the dealer. This process is repeated for a last time with burning, turning and betting until five cards are out on the table. Players once again have the option to bet, check or fold and the winner is the one with the best hand among the remaining players on the table.
Tips and strategies
There are a myriad number of books that have been written on this topic. Confidence plays as big a part in the game as luck. Some people would say more. The money you have on the table can be considered your most important tool. The size and method of your betting sends signals to the other players. The signals may not represent the true strength of the hand you have. This is called bluffing. You can’t bluff too often though because people will come to realize this is a common method of yours. Generally speaking, a good solid player will wait for the good hands and back them heavily. This pushes the players who don’t initially have good hands out of the game in which case disallowing them from building a good hand. When a player thinks they have an excellent hand that can beat anyone else on the board, they will push all their chips to the centre and declare that they are “all in.” This can have the effect of intimidating everyone else at the table into folding, but it can also backfire if the bet is called and another player has the higher hand.
Folding a bad hand may seem like giving in or losing, but it is actually the best way to stay in the game. Since only the little blind and the big blind have to pay money into each hand, and these positions rotate, a player can save considerable money by folding bad hands.
Watch tells. Novice players think poker is all about luck, but while the hands cannot be predicted the use of them can be as noted previously. Watch other players too see how they react when they get strong hands or weak hands, and make sure your own face does not show the famous “tell.” No one wins every hand of poker, and not every hand should be played. In poker, the object is to win as much as you can on a good hand and lose as little as possible with a bad deal. A good idea is to play in the token games initially until you are confident with gameplay and have mastered a few of the basic strategies. There is more information on how to develop your game in the Articles section here.
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