How To Play Texas Hold'em

StrategyWhen you first sit down at a Texas Hold ‘em table, you should check out what seat you are in. This is important because each player who is dealt into the game, is in a different betting position, in relation to the dealer. The player with the dealer button is who you will want to spot first. If you are seated to the left of the dealer, you are in the position of the small blind. If you are seated to the left of the small blind, you represent the big blind. All remaining players can wait until the hand is dealt to bet, but will eventually get the chance to be in each position, the dealer, the small blind, and the big blind, as the dealer button is passed to the left after each hand is completed.

The deal starts at the left of the dealer and goes clockwise around the table. Each player gets two cards, which are called “hole cards” or “pocket cards.” After the deal is finished, players review their hands privately (this is where you’ll want to try on your poker face). The small blind acts first and can either fold, call, or raise. The limit level of a game, pot-limit, limit, or no-limit, determines the betting structure and limitations placed on players.

To stay in the hand, the small blind must call (bet the remainder of the big blind) or raise (completing the big blind bet and then upping the ante. The betting round continues around the table, clockwise, with each player having the choice to fold, call, or raise until the action reaches the big blind again. If no has raised, this player can check (taking no action to raise, but staying in the hand). Some players make the mistake of protecting their blinds at this point, not wanting to fold because they don’t like to throw their blinds away. They will continue to stay in the hand, even if they don’t have a great hand. But in Texas Hold ‘em, any two cards can win, and they often do.

Once one betting round is finished, the dealer is required to burn one card before dealing “the flop.” The flop, in Texas Hold ‘em, is the first three community cards that are dealt face up on the poker table. Another betting round takes place in the same fashion as the first. Play goes around the table; players fold, call, or raise. There are usually more hands folded during this round, as players who waited to see the flop, realize they don’t have a chance.

The next round begins with a burn card and “the turn,” which is the fourth community card. This card is dealt face up on the table, in line with the first three community cards. This card is also card “fourth street.” Betting continues. The final round starts with a burn card and “the river” is dealt, also called “fifth street.” The final bets are made, a “showdown” takes place, and all remaining players can show or “muck” (not show) their cards to determine the winning hand. The best hand is made with one or two of a player’s hole cards along with three or four of the five community cards on the table. If two hands tie for the best hand, the pot is split.

History of Texas Hold'em

The legend of Texas Hold ‘em poker tells that the game was first played in its earliest form in the very early 1900s in the vicinity of a town in Texas called Robstown. The game later migrated to Dallas, Texas in 1925. The first rounders roamed Texas in the 1940s making a living playing poker and improving their game. These players were referred to as “Texas Road Gamblers” and were actually outlaws, as poker was mostly illegal in Texas. These guys were on the run, driving the country roads of Texas from one game to the next like nomads, evading raids and shooting cheaters when necessary. The game was ultimately brought to Las Vegas, Nevada by some of these Texan card gamblers, Doyle Brunson, Amarillo Slim, and Crandell Addington, who could no long find games in Texas.

This initial stage of poker lasted until the 1970s when a rise in public popularity of poker came about. Televised Texas Hold ‘em tournaments in the US began to generate public interest. The initiation of the World Series of Poker also brought attention to the game, as did Doyle Brunson’s book, Super System. Later, in the 80s and early nineties, 2+2 Publishing started putting out other strategy books like Hold ‘em for Advanced Players and The Theory of Poker.

Over the decades, poker, specifically Texas Hold ‘em, was a slowly awakening sleeping giant that suddenly became fully aroused at the onset of the 21st century. After 2003, when poker migrated to the Internet, which introduced the world to satellite tournaments, poker rapidly developed into a world-wide phenomenon in only a few short years. At the forefront of all of these milestones in poker was Texas Hold ‘em, which is still the most popular game in the world in land-based casinos and on the Internet and has even replaced 5-card draw as the most popular home game.

What makes poker and Texas Hold ‘em in particularly so captivating is that no matter how many analyses of the game and different strategies are examined, the game is ever-evolving. With each individual hand a player discovers, learns, and understands new insight into the game, as do his opponents. Furthermore, online poker alone has resulted in a major progression of Texas Hold ‘em and the overall knowledge of the game has grown exponentially. Technology has forever altered the game of poker.One way in which the Internet has changed poker is that online play has birthed an aggressive playing style that was previously uncommon in live play, which live poker is now beginning to adopt.

With all that being said, it should be evident to newcomers how important it is to not only practice the game, but also seek out the experience of poker pros who have already learned from a million common mistakes. Many poker pros even blog about their mistakes and revelations (e.g. Daniel Negreanu).

As further understanding of games like Texas Hold ‘em develop poker will inevitably become a harder game. Staying on the frontline of the advancements in the industry is vital to gaining a level of understanding that will match the average pro. It is no longer advantageous to the poker player to practice and polish one unique style of play. The game now requires successful poker players to learn and implement different playing styles, changing them up frequently. If a player goes to the table and plays the same game every time, he will not finish ahead. In the future, poker will undoubtedly go through many more periods of evolutionary advancements, as the infinite complexity of the game may never be fully grasped.

Texas Hold ‘em has most recently become a beloved pastime that has brought the world together like no other sport. It represents the dedication and passion that defines a generation, evoking about both controversy and spirit through the awesome game of poker.

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