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How to Play Texas Holdem
by Greg Cavouras  

While there are different styles of playing Texas Hold’em- Limit, No Limit, Online, Live, Tournament, Heads Up, and more, the game itself never changes; each specific type has specific rules, but a basic Texas Hold’em game goes as follows:

1) In most types of Hold’em, the game starts with betting- and that’s even before the cards are dealt! Generally, there are two blind bets at a table; the small blind, and the big blind. These are forced bets to ensure betting action in a given hand, and must be placed before the cards are dealt. The blinds are positioned as follows: the player to dealer’s immediate left is the small blind; the player to the small blind’s immediate left is the big blind. Generally, but not always, the big blind is an amount equal to twice the small blind. This blind positioning is important in Texas Hold’em, because the “deal”- that is to say the player who acts as dealer, rotates around the table in a clockwise direction. So if you in the big blind position on the first hand, on the second hand you would be the small blind, and on the third hand you would be acting as dealer. Take a look at the diagram below, as it depicts a 10-player Texas Hold’em table, as seen from above

a) First hand: You are in the big blind position, seated at the second spot from the top on the left hand side of the diagram:

 

X

X

 

Big Blind (You)

X

 

Small Blind

X

 

Dealer

X

 

X

X

b) Second hand: You keep your seat, but because of the dealer rotation, you are now the small blind.

In addition to these blinds, often the game will require that an “ante” be placed from each player to include them in the hand, however some tournaments and games do not require this.

2) Starting from the dealer’s left, each player is dealt two cards, from a standard 52-card deck, face down. These are the players “hole” cards, and they are kept concealed from all the other players at the table during play, these two cards are for the exclusive use of the player to whom they are dealt.

3) After this initial deal-out of 2 cards each is completed, the “action” falls on the player to left of the big blind. At this point I will overview the four options a player (almost) always has when the action falls to them:

a) Fold: When it is your turn, you may fold your hand and surrender any chips you’ve already placed in the pot. Your hand is discarded face down, and you are out of the hand.

b) Check: If action is on you and there is no outstanding bet (that is to say, no player has put more chips in the pot than you), you may check. This is to say you do not wish to fold, but you do not wish to put a bet in.

EXAMPLE: The action has gone around the table with no bets, and you are last to act: you may Check the hand which would conclude that round of betting.

c) Call: If the action is on you and there IS an outstanding bet, you may call, which means you are going to match exactly the amount of the outstanding bet, and continue to play the hand.

EXAMPLE: The action has gone around the table and the player to your right (who acts before you) has put in a bet of 100 chips; If you wish to stay in the hand, you must match his 100 chips. If you matched it exactly and put your 100 in, that would be calling the hand.

d) Bet/Raise: If the action is on you, you may Raise the outstanding bet, even if there is no bet at all up until this point.

EXAMPLE: The action comes to you and up until this point there has been no bets; You may put a bet in and force any other player who wishes to stay in the hand to match your bet. Different variations place different limits on the amount you may raise, however as an example: No one has yet put in a bet, and the action is on you: You may put in as much of a raise as you wish (as long as the rules permit it) and this will force other players to match your bet if they wish to stay in the hand.

In addition to these four functions, they are sometimes combined; As an example:
There are no outstanding bets until the action reaches the player on your right; they decide to put a 100 chip raise in. At this point, you still have all four options previously mentioned however, you may CALL the 100 chip raise, and RE-RAISE it another 100 chips. This forces all players after you to put in 200 chips, and it will force the player to your right who initiated the original 100 chip raise to put in an additional 100 chips to make a total of 200.

Now that we’ve covered betting and terminology, let’s get back to the game!

4) The action goes to each player in clockwise rotation; they all take action as they see fit, and once all bets have been settled and the round of betting has concluded, it’s time to see more cards!

5) At this point, the player acting as dealer will “burn” (discard face down) the top card on the deck, and then he will expose three cards face up in the middle of the table. This is called “The Flop” and these three cards are community cards.

6) Another round of betting ensues, starting from the dealer’s left.

7) After this round of betting has concluded, the dealer will again burn the top card of the deck, and expose the next card face up next to other three cards. This is called the Turn card, or Fourth Street. It is a community card also.

8) Another round of betting ensues, starting from the dealer’s left.

9) Once this round of betting has concluded, the dealer will once again burn the top card of the deck, and next one, called the River. This is the final community card, for a total of 5.

10) A final round of betting ensues, once all bets are settled, remaining players shall expose their hole cards and compare. The winner is determined by which player can create the best 5 card poker hand from any combination of the 5 community cards, and their 2 hole cards. The player who has the best hand will be the winner and claim all the chips in the pot.

Notes:

-This description is based on the assumption that at least two players keep their hand until the conclusion of the game; if at any point all remaining players at the table fold their hands, the player who initiated the bet which provoked the folding shall claim the pot, as he is the last player remaining with a live (unfolded) hand.

-ONLY the top 5 of the 7 available cards count when determining ranking. Should two players have identical playing five card hands, the pot will be split, and the additional cards that each player holds will bear no consideration in determining the victor.
 


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