Texas Holdem Basics

Texas Hold’em is obviously the king today in both live poker and online poker. No other poker variant gets as much TV exposure. The reason for this big exposure is because Texas Hold’em has almost perfect ingredients for the television screen. The community cards (5 cards shared by all players) make visually observing what is going on easy for the TV audience.

In fact, the best Hold’em players have become notable celebrities. Even if you don’t want any TV celebrity fame, you may still play Texas Hold’em and have loads of fun. Who knows? You may even get really lucky. And if you do choose to enter tournaments after you understand the game, you may be the future budding star. This game has made tournament winners instant millionaires and turned them into household names for the devoted fans that religiously follow all episodes of the World Poker Tour.

Even though Texas Hold’em shares certain characteristics with Seven-Card Stud, it is essentially a different game. In Texas Hold’em, all players start with two cards face-down as you will find in Stud, but then the action promptly diverges.

The remaining 5 cards are dealt face-up as the community cards, and shared by all players to complete the best five-card hand. This puts far more importance on a couple of hole cards (also known as two pocket cards) because they are the only cards that differentiate your hand from other player’s hand.

Betting in Texas Hold’em game is different from Seven-Card Stud, too. In Seven-Card Stud, the first round of betting takes place after the 3rd card – when you get two hole cards and a single upcard. Texas Hold’em has 4 betting rounds (Stud has 5), which unfold as follows:

  • The first betting round occurs after all players get their two hole cards, also known as preflop play.
  • The dealer puts three cards face-up, also known as the flop.
  • The second betting round takes place.
  • The dealer puts the fourth face-up card, also known as the turn, on the table. If your hand does not improve by this turn, you may need to fold.
  • The third betting round occurs.
  • The dealer puts the fifth card face-up at the table. This last card is known as the river. If you have been holding out for a miracle card to help you create a straight or a flush and your ship does not come in, you may as well drown here.
  • The fourth and final betting round takes place.
  • If a player stays on the hand, he then shows his cards to decide who wins the game (after all the baiting, betting, and trash-talking are over). The best ‘five cards’ poker hand – with any of community cards and the hole cards – is the pot grabber. Each time before the flop, the river, and the turn, the dealer burns a card, placing that card face-down. No player sees the value of that burn card, and in reality, it serves no useful role (a bit like the vice president).

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