Texas Hold’em Poker
Poker is one of the oldest card games still being played today. Like so many other casino games, you play with chips, hands, and a table full of competitors. But unlike other options you will encounter on the casino floor, poker games rely on strategy and skill almost as much as they do luck.
Whether you are interested in Texas Hold’em so you can enter tournaments or simply because you take pleasure in a night in with your friends, this poker game is a great way to experience the unique sense of excitement that comes with the turn of a card.
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know: rules, terminology, and more.
Since the middle of the 20th century, Texas Hold’em has been one of the most popular variations of poker in the world.
In fact, it’s so big that the World Series tournament is streamed globally, with bets placed on the outcome.
Here’s the gist of the game: Every player gets two cards (the ‘hole’ cards), including the dealer (designated by a “dealer button”). Everyone at the table is playing independently, with the goal of either getting the best hand or sticking around until everyone else folds.
In addition to the two cards you are dealt, there are also five community cards. A community card can be used by anyone to improve their poker hand.
Once all five community cards have been revealed, the players who have not folded reveal their five best cards.
History of Texas Hold’em Poker
Robstown Texas is the self-proclaimed birthplace of Texas Hold’em. While no one can say when the first showdown took place, it is widely agreed that the game simmered around the state of Texas for the better part of the early 1920s.
It came to more widespread attention in the 1950s when Texans expressed interest in installing it as one of the common poker options at major casinos. The Golden Nugget Casino was the very first location on the Vegas Strip to give Hold’em a chance, offering it as an option years before everyone else came on board.
However, the case for Hold’em as a game of series potential took off a little later when it was featured at the now defunct Dunes casino. Dunes had a more prominent location, leading to a combination of factors that propelled the game to new heights.
It wasn’t just that more people were playing the game, but also that the right people discovered it.
In 1969, Tom Moore made a move that would account for the game’s rapid ascent to superstardom. He launched the first-ever World Series of Poker.
While the event started slowly with only 100 entrants during its first year, it also established the game as a favorite option for pro players.
Since then, the World Series of Poker, and in fact, Texas Hold’em in general have become household names. It’s an enjoyable game played by people all over the world.
While it’s hard to break a game of skill into pros and cons, it is worth mentioning that there are commonly agreed-upon things that make the game great, and also shortcomings that incoming players should be aware of.
- It’s an accessible game to start
- You can win even without great luck
- It’s a fun way to pass the time with friends
- It isn’t available at every casino
- Hold’em, like any other form of gambling carries the risk of financial loss and addiction
- Each player begins with an equal pile of chips. These chips are typically sorted by colour, with each colour having its own monetary value.
- At the start of each hand, players are given their cards and required to ante. The ante is basically the price you pay to play each hand. It is usually paid with your lowest-value chip.
- Then there is the blind—the bet made before the community cards are dealt. Once everyone has made their initial bets, the flop (first three community cards) is revealed.
- Based on these cards, players are invited to make additional bets or fold. Players can also choose to stay—keep playing but make no bet—if everyone at the table agrees.
- After the flop, a single community card called the “turn,” is dealt, after which there is another round of betting.
- The final community card is often called “the river.” After the river, players make their final bets and then reveal their cards. The player with the best hand wins the hand and takes the pot—the culmination of all of the chips that were bet.
People who want to start playing competitive events may need some strategic assistance. Obviously, all poker players approach the game a little bit differently. However, there are common strategies and decisions you can leverage to improve your game quickly.
Texas Hold’em is often praised as a game of skill rather than luck. There is a reason why the same players (more or less) are featured at the World Series of Poker each year. They don’t just play their cards. They also play the table.
Keep in mind that poker—even online video poker—is just like all other types of skill games. If you want to progress beyond street-level play and start entering tournaments and winning prizes, you need practice.
- Understand when to fold, and when to hold. The game isn’t only about poker hand rankings. In tournament play, you will even see highly skilled players go all in on rounds where they have nothing.
However, if you are going to call someone out with a big bet, you need to have either the cards to back it up or complete confidence that you can buy their hand (pressure them into folding). The former is largely a matter of luck, while the latter is the product of skill. Even really good players won’t waste too much time with wild bluffs until they have taken data on the table, identified tells, and determined what kind of tactics will work on their opponents. There are situations where you can score big with nothing, but you have to know how to play it right. Err towards being conservative, but always keep an eye out for times when you can make a big move.
- Consider yourself from someone else’s perspective. It’s important to understand what you look like to everyone else at the table. Not only will this help you identify your own tells, but it may also help you gain a stronger understanding of what motivates your opponent’s moves at various stages of the game.
- Manage your bankroll. It’s also important to keep a close eye on your bankroll content. If you are playing for real money, the reasoning behind this is obvious. However, regardless of whether it’s a friendly game or tournament play, you still want to make sure you are managing your funds intelligently. Chips do more than just establish the winner and losers. They also set power positions at the table. If you have more money than your opponents, it can give you leverage to force them into moves they might not want to make. For example, do you have a pair of eights that is good but probably not great? If the only other player still active is gaming with a short stack, you could pressure them into folding with a large bet.
Unfortunately, finding tables isn’t always easy. Despite the game’s popularity, not all casino settings make space for Hold’em because there is no house edge. The structure of the game is such that no person goes in with a position advantage.
If you want to branch out, look for skilled friends to play with. You may also find small tournaments in your community. Keep in mind that the better your opponent is, the more you will be able to improve your own skills. Try to enter games against players with a high-rank profile.
There is also a wide variety of applications and virtual casinos. An app is nice because it allows you to play Texas Hold’em anywhere. You can even play for real money. Virtual casinos have real payouts making them a great option for players who object to stake-free poker.
How To Play Texas Hold’em Poker
After having reviewed the structure and rules of the game you probably have a decent idea of how it is played. However, that’s not the same thing as understanding how to play it.
- Good players use their cards.
- Great players use the entire table.
Obviously, you want to produce a strong combination, but if you’re going to win consistently, you need to know how to leverage your chips, and your understanding of the other players to leverage good outcomes.
No one is perfect, but you can reduce your mistakes considerably just by understanding what to look for. Here are a few common mistakes that many rookies make.
- Playing too many hands. Many newer players don’t like to fold early because they worry that the cards they need will come up on the flop. But when you are sitting with a two and a six (or something to that effect) you don’t always need to watch the hand play out. With sketchy hands, you can buy into the flop if it’s cheap. If it isn’t, fold.
- Overvaluing your hand. A pair of tens, nice! Sometimes being dealt decent cards can be more of a curse than a blessing. For example, is there a numerical sequence present in the community cards? Or maybe several cards in the same suit? Often, when the community cards indicate the clear potential for a hand that is better than yours, it is best to fold.
- Bankroll management. Good players use their chips as a tool. Bankroll management is not just about betting big when you have the cards, and conservatively when you don’t. It’s about managing risk, and applying leverage when appropriate.
By now, you’ve been introduced to just about every Texas Hold’em fact you could need to get started. Let’s recap:
- Texas Hold’em is a popular English poker variant now played all over the world.
- Though the game’s history is murky, it is widely accepted that it began in Texas and gained global traction in the 1950s when it reached Vegas.
- Players are given two cards.
- Their goal is to make a strong 5-card hand using what they were dealt, as well as the pool of community cards.
- There are 4 rounds of betting during a game of Texas Hold’em.
Just remember to always game responsibly. While Hold’em is often enjoyed in a social context, it is also a form of gambling.
- Pot: The total number of chips bet during a hand.
- Antes: The ante is an initial payment to the pot that you pay before play begins.
- Stakes: Stakes are the bets players make before each new card is revealed.
- Check: A check occurs when a player declines to place a bet but wishes to remain in the game.
- Stack: The chips each player has in front of them.
- Straight: A hand in which you have 5 sequential cards.
- Flush: A hand in which all of your cards belong to the same suit.
- Suit: Spades, hearts, clubs.
- Poker hand ratings: The system by which hands are compared. Three of a kind is better than a pair. Higher number cards outrank lower number cards. A flush always beats a straight.
- Limit: The maximum bet allowed.
- Raise: Raises occur when a player increases another player’s bet. Players are also allowed to re-raise. A re-raise further increases the bet size.
- Hole cards: Private cards only the hand owner can look at. Hole cards can only be placed face up when the final bet has been placed.
- Dealer button: The dealer button is a small token that marks who is dealing for that hand. The dealer traditionally rotates. Dealers still stake bets during gameplay.
- Community cards: A community card can be used by all players to create their hands. There are five in total.
Below, we take a look at a little more poker info that will hopefully help you find success with the game.
Can you tie in Texas Hold’em?
It is rare to tie in Texas Hold’em. If two players are leveraging the same card combination (for example, a flush or a straight) the high card will decide who gets the jackpot. In situations where two players have identical hands, they share the pot.
Do jokers get used in Texas Hold’em?
Jokers get removed from the deck before play begins.
How long is a game of Texas Hold’em?
While the game’s length depends on how many players there are, and what the pace of play is, you should expect it to last several hours in most cases.
What is the best Texas Hold’em hand?
The Royal Flush is the best Hold’em hand. A Royal Flush occurs when one player gets successive cards from 10 to Ace all in the same suit.
Dudley Nader is our casino game expert at Betkiwi. A University of Otago graduate in Statistics, he's leveraged his skills in a decade-long gambling industry career, earning recognition as a top casino specialist in New Zealand. In his free time, Dudley enjoys developing new game strategies and playing poker.More Articles From The Author