Texas Hold'em poker - rules and Strategy
Texas Hold'em poker, also known as Texas Hold'em, is a poker game in which each player receives two cards (hole cards) dealt face down, while five cards are dealt face up on the table. All players play their best five cards using any combination of their two downcards and the five common cards on the table. The best five-card poker hand among those in contention for the pot wins. Texas hold'em is the the most popular online poker variant, and all online poker Rooms offers this game.
The betting starts after two cards are dealt to each player in Texas Hold'em. These cards are unique to each player. The next three cards (called flop cards or, simply, the flop) are then dealt in the center of the table. These cards are community cards and are part of each active player's hand. A second round of betting occurs. The fourth community card (the turn card) is dealt in the center of the table, followed by another (third) round of betting.
The final community card (the river card) is dealt in the center of the table, followed by a final (fourth) round of betting. The turn and river cards are also community cards used by all players in Texas Hold'em. When all bets have been equalized, the showdown takes place among the remaining players also known as active players and the winner is declared. If only one player remains at the end of any round in Texas Hold'em, there is no showdown and the pot is awarded to that lone remaining player. A player uses the best five cards among his pocket cards and the community cards to determine his hand. That is, a player may use both, one, or none of the two hole cards he started with. (When none are used, the player is playing the board.) (See Winning Hands.)
Check-and-raise is allowed in all in Texas Hold'em games (except on the first round, when a player, on his turn, must either bet or fold). The maximum allowable wager is always indicated on the Bet prompt and the lowest allowable wager is the default in the Bet window.
Texas Hold'em Bet Limits
When you first go to a table, an information box appears that tells you the name of the game ("Welcome to Hold'em"), the limits and type of game (for example, "$4-$8 Fixed Limit"), the blinds (for example, "Blinds: $2/$4"), and the buy-in (for example, "Minimum Buy-in $40"). In a no-limit game, a maximum buy-in is enforced. The minimum buy-in is generally 20 times the size of the big blind in Texas Hold'em. So, for example, when you sit down at a $0.25-$0.50 game, you will see in the information box "Maximum Buy-in $50." If you click Sit Down and try to buy in for less than $10, a notice pops up that reads "You need to post a minimum buy-in of $10 to play at this table."
Fixed-Limit Games - The software enforces the bet limits, which are determined by the stakes offered at the particular table. For example, at a $3-$6 table, the limit on any bet is $3 on the first two betting rounds and $6 on the final two betting rounds. Often one bet and three raises is allowed in each individual round. Each bet or raise is at the limit for that round. Thus, the first player to bet in the first round of betting has the choice of folding or betting $3. If someone has made a bet, the next player has the choice of folding, calling the $3, or raising $3 (making the total bet at that point $6). If there has been a raise, the next player has the choice of folding, calling the $6, or raising $3 (making the total bet at that point $9).
Pot-Limit Games - The minimum bet at the start of each round of Texas Hold'em is the amount of the big blind wager. The maximum eligible bet is the amount of money currently in the pot. The maximum allowable bet is calculated as the pot size after an individual calls all existing wagers. For example, if there is $10 in the pot and Player 1 wagers $5, then Player 2 could call $5 or raise up to an additional $20. That is, when Player 2 puts her $5 into the pot, the pot becomes $20. She could just call the $5, or raise any amount from $5 to $20. Thus, she could put in a maximum of $25. During the course of a round of Texas Hold'em betting, a bet size cannot decline. (A bet or raise must equal or exceed the preceding bet or raise.) If someone bets or raises $5, then the next player's minimum raise would be $5. You could not, for example, raise a $5 bet by $2. (Exception: You can always go all in wager all of your remaining chips even if that amount would cause you to make a raise smaller than that permitted by this rule.)
No-Limit Games - The minimum bet at the start of each round is the amount of the big blind wager. The maximum eligible bet at all times is a player's table stake (the amount of money a player currently has on the table). During the course of a round of betting, a bet size cannot decline. (A bet or raise must equal or exceed the preceding bet or raise.) If someone bets or raises $5, then the next player's minimum raise would be $5. Any Texas Hold'em player can go all in (wager all his chips) at any point during the play of the hand. A player is never forced to call more than the amount of chips he has on the table at any moment. That is, no player can be "bet out" of a hand. If one player runs out of chips during the course of a hand, and more than one opponent remains with more chips than that player, then a side pot is created. An all-in player can win from another player only as much as he is in for. This concept also applies to pot-limit games.
The house rake is different from casino to casino. Usually though its about 5%, capping at $3, and using a variable rake structure.
Posting to Enter a Game
New players can enter a game in the big blind position to avoid paying the new player post, which is equivalent to the Texas Hold'em big blind. A new player can choose to post the equivalent of the big blind to enter the game at any time except when he is between the button and the big blind position. A returning player who has missed the big blind or small blind can choose to post the missed blinds and reenter the game, as long as he is not between the button and the big blind position. A seated player who has missed the blinds or a player just sitting down can always choose to wait for the blind, that is, sit out until the blind gets to him.
Other Important Points
Buy-In - When you first sit down to the Texas Hold'em table, you are prompted with "enter the amount to buy in with." - type in the desired buy-in amount. The minimum buy-in amount is generally 10 times the small bet, although that amount is higher for no-limit and pot-limit games. Also see "Bet Limits" above.
For pot-limit and no-limit games, the maximum buy-in amount is 100 times the big blind.
Texas Hold'em poker Dealer (Our dealers never sleep, and they don't accept tips!) - The dealer always sits at the top of the table and deals for all players. The dealer position, or dealer button, starts at the left of the dealer and moves clockwise one player after each hand.
To start a hand, the cards are dealt in a clockwise direction from the dealer button. All new players to the game must either post the equivalent of the big blind or wait for their turn in the big blind. (Also see "Posting to Enter a Game" above.) This prevents players from gaining an advantage by avoiding the blinds and jumping in and out of games. Each time the cards are dealt, a new betting round begins. A Texas Hold'em hand starts when the first card is dealt and ends when a winner is declared.
Burn Cards - Just as in a "live" cardroom, the dealer discards (burns) one card at the beginning of each betting round. These are called the burn cards. You won't see the dealer actually burn cards, but the game software takes care of this.
Dealer Button - The yellow disk (labeled with a D) that moves from player to player at the beginning of each hand is called the dealer button. It identifies the current dealer position as if that player were actually dealing the cards. The player at this location is said to be on the button. After each completed hand, the dealer button moves one player to the left.
The Hold'em cards are dealt in a specific order and betting also takes place in a specific order. The order is as follows:
Blinds - The small blind is a forced bet made by the player to the immediate left of the dealer button (when you are viewing the table from behind the button). The big blind is a forced bet made by the player to the immediate left of the small blind.
Small Blind - In our Hold'em game, the small blind is a bet equal in size to one half the game's minimum bet, rounded down to the nearest unit. (For example, in a $4-$8 game, the small blind is $2; in a $3-$6 game, the small blind is $1. Exception: In a $.05-$.10 game, the small blind is $.03.)
Big Blind - In our Texas Hold'em game, the big blind is a bet equal in size to the game's minimum bet. (For example, in a $3-$6 game, the big blind is $3.)
Missed Blinds - Players are required to post the small blind and the big blind once per round or their equivalent upon reentry to the game if the blinds are missed. The software will prompt you if you have missed one or both blinds to put in the correct amount. You can also wait for the blind to get to your position. This is called coming in on the blind. (The term also applies to when you first sit down.) (Also see "Posting to Enter a Game" above.)
First Round - After the players in the blind positions put their blinds into the pot, the dealer deals two cards (pocket or hole cards) to each player, at which time each player can see his own cards but not those of his opponents. On the first round only, the betting starts with the player to the left of the big blind, who has one of three choices, call, raise, or fold. On the first round only, a player cannot check (make no bet) and still retain his hand. On the first round only, the Texas Hold'em player in the small blind position acts after the button. The player in the big blind position acts after the small blind.
Raise/Call/Check/Fold - Once a betting round has started you must select one of these options from the popup box that appears when it is your turn. If you choose one of the automatic options, your bet is made automatically on your turn. (See Cardroom Features for more about these options.) If you select Sit Out or you close the window after a round has started, your bet will be considered a fold. If your connection is lost, your hand will be played as an all-in bet. (This feature is restricted to a maximum number of times per day, to prevent individuals from gaining an advantage by purposely allowing themselves to be timed out.)
Option - The Texas Hold'em player who has the big blind is given the option to raise, check, call, or fold when it is his turn. If no one has raised, the big blind has the option of checking (that is, not increasing the bet) or raising (the prompt says Bet).
Succeeding Rounds - In all rounds except the first, the betting starts with the first active player to the left of the button, who has one of three choices, check, bet, or fold. Until there is a bet, each succeeding active player has the same choices. Once a bet is made, each succeeding player then has in turn one of three choices, call, raise, or fold.
Showdown - When all the betting is done, and if more than one player is still in for the pot, then the showdown determines who wins the game of Texas Hold'em. The last player to open or raise is required to show cards first, and anyone else can fold (muck his cards if he decides he has lost. Players who elect to fold do not have to show their cards. (The hole cards of all players who stay in to the showdown are included in the hand history, even if they do not actually expose their cards at the showdown.)
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