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Texas Hold’em for Beginners

What Exactly is Texas Hold’em?

 As one of the most popular variants of poker, Texas Hold’em is counted as current reigning king of table games. Having been featured in movies and books, it’s easy to see why this form of poker has taken off like a rocket to the moon and we’ll tell you everything about it in our Texas Hold’em for beginners guide.

Even though at its core Texas Hold’em is still a form of poker, it still has quite a few differences when compared with your classic 5 card draw. In Texas Hold’em, the players only get two pocket cards, and there are also five community cards that are dealt facing up in the middle of the table for the players to pick from.

The ranking of the poker hands are the same as in classic poker, the main difference is combining the five upturned cards dealt out at the end of the betting rounds and the two private pocking cards, the player gets to pick his or her hand from the available selection.

Another small difference is the use of blinds in the betting process, which assures that there is always some money in the pot.

Image Credit: Minh Hoang

How to Get Started?

In Texas Hold’em, each player gets a turn at being the dealer. The dealer button assigns the dealer role among the players and moves clockwise between each round.

The dealer shuffles the deck and the first player to the left pays a small blind, which is half the big blind. Then the dealer gives each player two cards face down.

Once the cards are dealt, each player needs to undertake an action, starting from the player sat left of the big blind. This action can be “call”, meaning the player puts in a bet equal to the previous one to stay in the game, “fold”, the player does not make a bet and forfeits the hand, or a “raise”, where the player increases the bet. The betting continues round the table clockwise.

After the first round of betting is complete, three cards are dealt face up on the “board,” the center of the table. These three cards are referred to as “the flop”. These are “community cards” and will be used by all the players who stay active in the game to construct their final hand.

With the flop dealt, the player to the left of the dealer can either “check”, meaning he or she is still in the hand but prefers not to bet, or “bet”, in which an additional bet is made. This then goes round the players again as before.

A fourth card is then dealt on the board, which is called “the turn”, and another round of betting takes place, before the final card, known as “the river”, is dealt. Then the final round of betting ensues.

The players who are still in the game show their cards during “showdown”, and the person with the best hand wins the pot. Tied players will divide up the winnings.

texas hold'em for beginners

All in (Image Credit: François Philipp)

Basic Poker Strategy

 To do well in Texas Hold’em, it’s important to know your hierarchy of hands. The order of the hand value is given in the table below, running from high to low from the top:

HandDescription
Royal FlushThis is the highest hand you can get in poker, when you have an: ace, king, queen, jack and 10 in the same suit.
Straight Flush This consists of 5 cards of the same suit in a sequence. Like 6,7,8,9,10 of spades, for example.
Four of a KindRanking just below a straight flush, this set is when you have four of the same valued cards, like four aces or four 5s. It doesn’t matter what the value of the fifth card is.
Full HouseThis hand is made up of three cards of one denomination and two of another, like three 5s and two 3s.
FlushThis is when all cards belong to the same suit and not in a sequence.
StraightFive cards in a sequence not belonging to the same suit.
Three of a KindThree cards of the same rank, like three 10s, a 2 and a 5.
Two Pairs Two cards of one rank and two cards from another rank, for example: K, K, 10, 10, 2.
One PairThere are two cards of one rank in the set. Like 9, 9, 5, 2, K.
No PairsIt’s very common to have a game where no one gets any special hand. In this case, the winner is decided by who holds the highest card in each hand. The ace is the highest, followed by a king and so on. If two players hold an ace, then the tied players split the pot.

Also, bear in mind that poker is a game of psychology and not just skill. Learn to read your opponents and practice, practice and practice!

 

Texas Hold’em tips and tricks

 Give your game an edge with these tips!

  1. Learn the best and worst starting hands in Texas Hold’em. This will give you and advantage in knowing when to bet and when not to bet.
  2. Understand how your position at the table can help you or hinder you. When you’re in the dealer position, you’re at an advantage, for example, since you’re the last to bet in the flop. Being sat left of the dealer is the worst position to be in.
  3. Don’t just think about your own hand, but consider what the other players might have. Try to read them – are they giving anything away?
  4. Learn to hide your own emotions. Don’t show the others in your face if you’ve got a good hand or not.

 

Texas Hold’em Rules

  1. A single 52-card deck is used, without the wild cards.
  2. One of the players is assigned the role of the dealer, which is denoted by using a marker. This position will rotate round the table clockwise.
  3. The player to the left of the dealer makes a “small blind” bet, and the player to the second left makes a “big blind”, which has double the value. These blind bets guarantee that there is always money in the pot.
  4. Two cards are dealt to each player facedown, beginning to the left of the dealer.
  5. The player left of the big blind needs to either “call” the bet, “raise” or “fold”.
  6. The small blind may also raise the big blind, and in the case if no one raises the big blind, then the player making the big blind can also raise his or her own bet.
  7. Once the first betting round is complete, the dealer will place three community cards on the board, known as the “flop”.
  8. After these cards are dealt, another round of betting will take place, starting from the dealer’s left.
  9. A fourth community card known as the “turn” will be placed in the middle of the table.
  10. Another round of betting will take place.
  11. The final community card, the “river” will be dealt in the middle of the table.
  12. One final round of betting will take place.
  13. The players still in the game will show their cards, and the player with the highest hand ranking will win the pot.
  14. If two or more players have hands of the same rank, than individual cards will be used to break the tie.
  15. If the two players still tie after this, then they split the pot.

 

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About the author

Barbara is a German-born Austrian with unresolved identity issues and a degree in Ecology and Nature Conservation. She doesn't have a degree in journalism or any related field, but such details can't keep her from being one of the best.

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