It has been said before, but it’s worth saying again: Texas Hold’em is an easy game to learn but a tough game to master. Of all the poker games on the scene, none is more popular than the inimitable Texas Hold’em. For starters, it is played in homes, college dorms, Las Vegas casinos and at the world’s most glittering poker tournaments. Consider that Texas Hold’em features prominently at the European Poker Tour (EPT), the World Poker Tour (WPT), and the World Series of Poker (WSOP). As a poker greenhorn, there are plenty of useful tips, tricks, and strategies you can employ to boost your winning chances in this exciting poker variant.
On the surface, Texas Hold’em is about forming the strongest 5-card poker hand. To do this, players have plenty of options available. For starters, you can use your 2 hole cards and 3 of the 5 cards on the board. Or, you can use any combination of community cards and hole cards to compile your strongest 5-card hand. Unlike Omaha and Omaha Hi-lo where players are required to use 2 of their 4 pocket cards and precisely 3 of the community cards, Texas Holdem Poker does not make any such stipulations. Now that you know how to compile your winning hand, let’s get into the game specifics of how to play Texas Hold’em Poker!
The button is a rotating position at the poker table. It indicates who the dealer is for that particular round of play. In traditional poker games, individual players will act as the button i.e. the dealer, but in online poker games that is not a concern. The button is important insofar as it determines where the dealing of cards begins. The first card dealt goes to the SB and play moves in a clockwise fashion until everyone at the table has received 2 hole cards.
Prior to a new round of Texas Hold’em, there are two obligatory blinds that must be posted – these are mandatory bets before wagering begins. There are known as the Small Blind and the Big Blind. Blinds seed the pot. In tournament poker play, blinds increase at regular intervals, to ramp up the action and boost the size of the poker pots. When cash games are being played, blinds remain the same. The player left of the button post the Small Blind (SB), while the player directly to the left of the Small Blind posts the Big Blind (BB). Typically, the Small Blind is 50% of the Big Blind.
The purpose of Texas Hold’em is to form the strongest possible 5 card hand. Since every player receives 2 hole cards and every player has access to 5 community cards, you can juggle your possibilities to achieve your objective. The community cards are comprised of The Flop (the first 3 cards), The Turn (the fourth community card), and The River (the fifth community card). In total, there are 7 cards that players can use to make a winning 5 card hand. Believe it or not, you can also simply play the board – the 5 community cards!
There are betting rounds after each set of community cards that are dealt. The first betting round in the pre-flop phase of the game. Players can call, fold or raise. In the second betting round, 3 community cards are dealt – the flop – and players can once again bets, raise, fold, or call. The third betting round takes place off to the turn – the fourth community card. Once again players can check, fold, bet, call, or raise. The fifth and final community card – the River – is next. Once again, players have multiple betting actions available. If more than one player remains in the game at this point, the showdown ensues. The player with the best 5-card hand wins the pot.