Texas Hold’em

published on 11/16/05 at 11:57 am

Rules

Texas Hold’em follows the same generic “winning hand hierarchy” that all Poker games do. At the end of a poker hand, the player with the highest ranked five card combination wins the pot.

In texas holdem, every player at the table is dealt two cards face down. These two cards are referred to as the ‘Hole Cards’. After a round of bets by all the players, three cards are then dealt face up on the table. These three cards are referred to as ‘The Flop’. After another round of betting, a fourth card is dealt face up on the table alongside the flop. This card is referred to as ‘The Turn’. After yet another round of betting, the fifth, and final, card is also dealt face up on the table alongside the turn. This card is referred to as ‘The River’. These five cards are referred to collectively as ‘Community Cards’. After the community cards have been dealt, a final round of betting takes place and the players left in the hand show their hole cards. The player who has the best five card combination wins the hand and the pot.

Betting moves clockwise, always starting with the player to the left of the dealer. Texas Hold’em also has forced bets called ‘Blinds’. Before each hand is dealt, the player to the left of the dealer places a bet called a ‘Small Blind’. This player is also referred to as ‘The Small Blind’. The player to the left of the small blind places a larger bet called ‘The Big Blind’. Likewise, this player is also referred to as ‘The Big Blind’. The price of the blinds are established before play begins.

During the first two rounds of betting, both before and after the flop, the minimum bet players can make to stay in the hand must be equal to the price of the big blind. However, during the last two rounds of betting, after the turn and after the river, the minimum bet must equal double the price of the big blind.

Glossary & Definitions

Hole Cards: The two cards dealt face down to each player.
The Flop: The three cards dealt face up on the table.
The Turn: The fourth card dealt face up on the table.
The River: The fifth card dealt face up on the table.
Pot: The total amount of money the player with the best hand wins.
Bet: An increment of money placed into the pot.
Check: Not making a bet when no one has bet beforehand.
Call: Placing an equal bet to remain in a hand.
Raise: Increasing the bet that others must make to remain in a hand.
Pot Odds: An estimation of the profitability of a potential bet.
Rags: A bad hand.
Bluffing: Bets and raises designed to force players to fold when you have rags.
Bad Beat: Losing a pot to a great hand when you have a good hand.
Pocket Pair: Hole cards of the same value.
Bullets or Pocket Rockets: Aces as hole cards – the best starting hand possible.
Big Slick: Ace and King as hole cards.
Suited: Hole cards of the same suit.
Connectors: Hole cards in sequence (6-7, Q-K, etc).
Boat: A full house.
Trips: A three of a kind.
Flopping A Hand: A good hand made only from the flop.
On A Draw: Needing a turn or river card to make a good hand.
Open Ended Straight Draw: A hand with four cards in sequence, and needing one of either two possible cards on the turn or river to make a straight.
Inside Straight Draw: A hand missing one card in the middle to make a straight.
Flush Draw: A hand with four suited cards needing a fifth on the turn or river to make a flush.
Overcards: When the flop doesn’t give you a pair, but your hole cards are individually higher than the three in the flop.
Outs: The number of cards needed on the turn or river to make a winning hand.
Limit Hold’em: Bets and raises set at a fixed price.
Pot Limit Hold’em: Bets cannot exceed the amount of money in the pot.
No Limit Hold’em: No limit to the price of a bet throughout a hand.

Strategy

Texas Hold’em strategy must begin with the different positions around the table, how different they are, and how to best play them. The position in front of the dealer is called the first position, being the first to bet. The position to right of the dealer is the last position, the last to bet. The positions are so different that the Texas Hold’em must really be played in three different ways.

The first positions are best played conservatively. However, the first positions must also make regular large bets in order to persuade the later positions to fold their hands pre-flop, which is imperative in playing the percentages. In this position, one must be prepared to raise five times the blind when in possession of a good hand. It is the hardest position on the table. A decent hand made on the flop is best handled with a check or a bet. The difficulty of this position, therefore, is that in checking, it allows the other players a potential free look at the turn card. However, in making a bet, a player in a later position with a good hand can rope you into betting all night and take your money. So, when dealt decent hole cards in the early position, a winning strategy is to place large bets to harm the pot odds of the other players at the table, to force them to fold, to reduce the amount of opponents remaining at the flop as much as possible. If they call or raise this bet, their hole cards are likely to be stronger. So it is advisable to check until it is better to fold.

The middle positions on a table are also challenging as they require a player to observe and figure out the playing styles and psychology of the players in the latter positions. Every bet or raise made in the middle position provides a wealth of information about the hands of those in the latter positions. Similar to the first positions, making large bets to coerce the latter positions to fold before the flop is imperative because they will play more hands if it is cheap to to do so. It is a fundamental strategy to get these latter positions to fold so that you become the latter position where it is easiest to control the betting.

The last positions on a table have it the easiest. They have the most information to decide what is best or most advantageous to do when it is their turn to act. They can have a look at a free card if everyone before them checks. They can bluff to assess what the other players will do, how the other players will respond to different situations. When playing the last positions, if you do not have a good hand but have a few outs, make everyone pay big to see the next card. It is likely to convince everyone to fold. Never let an opponent see the turn for free if there’s a good chance of making a winning hand. Or take control of the betting, and check to see the river if the turn card doesn’t help make a winning hand.

A general, sound, conservative strategy is the most profitable for beginners as well as the more seasoned players. Beginners should avoid playing the bluff from the outset. Patient, conservative play allows one to work out the other players’ strategies, habits, and psychologies. True beginners bluff all over the place because no one can afford to play this way for too long before going bankrupt. The experienced players learn to quickly identify these rabid bluffers and clean them out. Therefore, it is to your advantage in learning to be a winner, to play patient, conservative poker and figure out your opponents, find the bluffers, and take them for a ride. Limiting one’s losses always precedes maximizing one’s winnings. Never gamble money you can’t afford to lose.

The hardest first lesson to learn is patience. The next hardest is learning how not to lose. The next hardest is learning how to win. But the most neglected lesson is learning to have fun in a game where losing money is par for the course. Learning to have fun allows one to relax in pressure situations, allows one to gain a better insight into the minds of the other players who are too focused on calculating pot odds and over-analyzing everything that they give themselves away.

Out of Eden is a regular contributor to PokerPlasm.com. He also contributes articles to other sites about world travel, political affairs, and Aussie Rules Football.

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