The name of the game is No Limit Texas Hold’em, the game is deceptively simple and only takes a minute to learn but a lifetime to master. Many people have watched Texas Hold’em tournaments on television and it looks easy to play. However before you race down to the casino and sign up for a high stakes tournament you need to learn the basics of the game.
The objective of Poker is to win the pot – the collection of chips made by the players during a hand of poker. Basically, there are two ways you can win:
Have the highest ranking hand
Bluff the other players into folding by making them believe you have the winning hand.
Texas Hold’em is a community card game, meaning that some cards are dealt face up in the middle of the table and shared by all players. Each player is dealt two pocket or hole cards which they consider with the five community cards to make the best possible five-card hand. The player with the best five-card hand wins the pot.
The Dealer Button
Texas Hold’em uses what is called a “dealer button” (a round indicator) to identify the theoretical dealer of each hand. After each hand is completed, the dealer button moves clockwise to the next active player. This player will be considered “the dealer” for that hand. In this way each player has equal opportunities to be in early, middle and late positions during a round of play. At the start of the game, players will take a seat at the table. The dealer will deal one card face up to each player. The player with the highest card will be the first player to act as the dealer. If two or more players are dealt the same high card, the tie will be broken by order of suit, starting with the suit preference of spades, hearts, diamonds and then clubs.
The two players immediately to the left of the dealer button place blind bets to start the pot (similar in principle to an ante). Instead of having every player ante each hand, the blind bets in combination with rotating dealer button accomplishes the same thing. The player to the left of the dealer button posts the “small blind”. The player to the left of the small blind is required to post the “big blind”. All the blinds in Hold’em poker are considered live bets and the players who posted them will have the option of calling, raising or folding when the betting returns to their position. Remember, the dealer button (and therefore the small blind and the big blind) move around the table clockwise after each hand, so each player will post the blind bets over time.
Round 1: The Pre Flop
Once the blinds have been placed, each player is dealt two cards, face down, which are known as hole cards or pocket cards. Because the two players immediately left of the dealer have already placed their “blind bets”, the player to the left of the player who placed the big blind starts the betting for the first round. The big blind has the option to raise an otherwise unraised pot. Every player participating in the hand should have equal amounts of points bet as the previous players (includes bets, calls and raises). Until the time all the players have placed equal amounts in the pot, the betting will continue.
In No-Limit Texas Hold’em there is no limit to the number of raises that a player can make, or the amount of points the player raises each time. The only limit is that you cannot raise yourself. If all the other players in the hand only call or fold, the player would not get an option to raise, because he was the last and only player to raise. Minimum raise: The raise amount must be at least as much as the previous bet or raise in the same round. As an example, if the first player to act bets 100 Poker Points then the second player must raise a minimum of 100 Poker Points (total bet of 200 Poker Points). Maximum eligible raise: At any time, a player may “Go All-In” meaning that he bets all of the chips that he has in front of him.
Round 2: The Flop
Three community cards are dealt face up. The first three cards are referred to as the flop, while all of the community cards are collectively called the board. Starting with the player to the left of the dealer button, each player can check or bet. Once a bet has been made, each player can raise, call, or fold.
Round 3: The Turn
A fourth card is added face-up to the community cards. This fourth card is known as the turn card, or fourth street. The Third Round of betting follows the same format as the second round.
Round 4: The River
A fifth and final card is added to the community cards. This fifth card is known as the river card, or fifth street. The final round of betting follows the same format as the second and third rounds.
Once all the bets are complete, there are two possible outcomes: either all the players but one have folded (and hence the remaining at person wins the pot), or the remaining players reveal their hands and the best hand wins the pot. This latter scenario is often called the showdown. Using the best five-card combination of their hole cards and the community cards, the remaining players show their hands. The highest five-card hand wins the pot. (In case of a tie, the pot is evenly split among the winning hands.