The game of Texas Hold’em is arguably the most famous version of poker. It is a “community card” version of the game, and its glamorous reputation has made it probably the most in-demand option on all the best online casino sites. Often referred to simply as “Hold’em”, this style of online poker is more complicated and more suspenseful than the Stud versions of the game that are, for many, their first exposure to poker.
Most online poker sites are built around versions of Texas Hold’em, so it’s definitely worth reading on to find out more about this classic favourite.
What are the basics of Texas Hold’em?
Hold’em is about making the best hand you can with the cards dealt to you, combined with the shared cards dealt to the middle of the table. Your cards are dealt face-down, meaning that your opponents cannot see them. The cards in the middle of the table “belong” to all players, hence the term “community cards”.
A game progresses around a table, with cards dealt clockwise to each player; rounds of betting then follow suit, also clockwise. The cards are dealt in stages – in total there will be four deals, each followed by a round of betting. As you will see, the betting in a game of Hold’em is complex, and how a player bets is at least as important as the actual cards they hold.
How do you play Texas Hold’em?
A game of Hold’em begins with two players placing Blinds. Blinds are small token bets which ensure that there will be some prize to play for even if the other players fold. Players will take it in turns to post these blind bets before each game.
The game begins with a Deal, where two Hole cards are dealt to each player. This is followed by a round of betting.
After this initial round, three shared cards are dealt. This is known as the Flop.
The Flop is followed by another round of betting, and then another card is dealt to the middle of the table. In poker terminology, this card is called the Turn.
The final shared card, the River, is dealt after another round of betting, at which point the players have to make the best possible five-card hand from their Hole cards and the community cards. Players must then decide whether they will join the final round of betting, and then the game ends in one of two ways:
- The first way to conclude the game is known as the Showdown. If there are enough players (two or more) willing to bet at the end, they will turn their Hole cards face-up to see who has the best hand, with the winner taking all of the chips that have been bet on the game.
- Alternatively, if one player has bet aggressively enough – usually by raising the stakes repeatedly – to scare all the other players into folding, that player will win the hand, and all of the chips that have been bet, by default. Most games of Hold’em end in this way, with a player winning without needing to show their hand. To do this, you may need to bluff, a term we’ll explain in more detail later on.
What are the different type of bets in Texas Hold’em?
Aside from the blinds, betting in a game of Hold’em goes around the table in the clockwise progression mentioned above. There are four rounds of betting, and the bets you can make depend on what the state of the game is when your turn comes.
If there are no non-blind bets made when it’s your turn to bet, you can Check. To check means to advance no bet for the moment. You may choose to check if you aren’t confident enough in your hand yet, and want to see what other players do.
Alternatively, if you are more confident – or want your fellow players to think you are – you can Bet. If someone has already bet, you need to at least match the Ante – their stake – to stay in the game. Similarly, if you’ve checked, and someone else then bets, you’ll need to match them.
If you are not at all confident, you may wish to Fold. This means you place no bet, and play no further part in the game. Folding in later rounds – after you have previously placed bets – will, however, mean that you forfeit all bets you have placed up to that point. Folding is essentially a way of ensuring that you don’t lose heavily just because you have been dealt a poor hand.
If you choose to bet, and the Ante has already been set, you can either:
- Call their bet, which means matching it exactly, or you can…
- Raise their bet. Raising means matching what has already been bet and adding more. Other bettors will be forced to match your raise if they want to stay in the game.
- Other players also have the option to Re-raise, which puts the onus on you to match them. Most card rooms will have a limit on the number of raises in a round of betting but if just two players are left in the game, raises may be unlimited.
Betting – and winning – in Texas Hold’em isn’t just about the cards that you have. Showing the confidence to raise bets when the pressure is on, and making the other players think you have a strong, unbeatable hand, is a key skill. This is known as bluffing, and being able to do it (and know when others are doing the same), is what separates the best players in any new casino from the rest.
Finally, while bluffing is most commonly used in an attempt to convince the other players that your cards are better than they actually are, it can also be used in the opposite way: attempting to convince players you’re less confident than you are. When used in this way, bluffing can persuade your opponents to bet more in anticipation of your loss, increasing your eventual winnings if you have been holding a great hand all along.
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