Texas Hold’em

Texas Hold’em poker is the most popular version of poker played online and at many casinos. It is also the game that viewers worldwide watch on cable channels such as The Poker Channel, the Travel Channel’s World Poker Tour and ESPN’s World Series of Poker. Here we have a look at the basics and rules of Texas Hold’em.

Its current high level of popularity on the internet stems from when Chris Moneymaker won $2.5 million in the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event, having qualified from a $40 online satellite competition – a tournament which was one of the first to be heavily televised, and which attracted a huge audience in the closing stages because of the drama associated with his victory. Millions of people have tried to re-enact his feat, with top female player Barbara Enright having come the closest – finishing in the money in 2005, having qualified via a $10 satellite!

There are many other live and online events that one can qualify for through the Internet poker rooms, or you can just log in and play for fun.

These are the basic rules for Texas Hold’em Poker:

The Start of the Game
The game of Texas Hold´em is played with a single deck of cards, shuffled between hands. In live games, the dealer never plays, but online the dealer is signified by a chip known as the “button” placed in front of him, which circulates around the table in a clockwise direction at the end of each hand.

The two players to the left of the dealer are known as the “Small Blind” and the “Big Blind” and they have to place forced bets to 50% and 100% respectively of the minimum bet allowed on the table. So, for example, if you were playing on a table advertised as $1/$2, the first player would pay $1 into the pot, and the second $2. This is done to ensure that there is something to play for on each hand.

Each player is then dealt two cards each – known as hole cards – which only they can see.

The First Round of Betting
Commencing with the player to the left of the Big Blind, each player takes it in turn to “call” the minimum bet, “raise” the amount of the bet or fold their cards. Those folding their cards play no further part in the hand.

The Flop
Once the first round of betting has been completed, the deal then turns three cards face up in the centre of the table. These are known as the community cards, and in total five community cards will be drawn from the pack. These are known as the “flop”, and once they have been drawn, a further round of betting takes place amongst the players remaining from the pre-flop action.

Players have the option of “Checking” (placing no bet), “Raising” (betting, or increasing the size of an existing bet), “Calling” (matching the size of the bet with no further increase) or “Folding” (discarding their cards and playing no further part in the hand. Once this round of betting is completed, the next card is drawn.

The Turn
The Turn is the fourth community card to be drawn and placed face up alongside the flop. The first player to the left of the dealer who is still involved in the game commences the betting and it continues in a clockwise direction around the table, as in previous hands, until the betting round is complete.

The River
The River card is drawn once the betting after the Turn is complete, and once again a single card is drawn and placed face up alongside the previously drawn cards. The remaining players are now able to determine the best five card poker hand that can be created from the five community cards and the two hole cards There is one final round of betting before the players reveal their hands (starting from the player closest to the dealer´s left) and the player who has made the best combination wins the chips in the pot.

In the event of a tie, the chips are equally shared between the two (or more) players. There is no particular suit which has a higher ranking than the others. (Click here for details of hand rank).

Online poker rooms and casinos deduct a small amount from the pot in “ring games” for hosting the table. This is called a “rake” and is how online casinos and poker web sites make their money. If you are playing in a tournament, the rake is either added to the entry fee, or subtracted from the total prize money. You can get a large portion if this rake back if you have a rakeback deal with the poker site.