Our guide to Texas Hold´em Poker explains the basics of how the game is played and provides some tips for new players that may help them avoid the more common mistakes made by novices. As there are several different motives for playing Texas Hold´em Poker (profit, entertainment, emotional release, etc.) we do not expect our P.O.K.E.R. tips to suit everyone; but they are worth a read through just in case they help you make a few dollars (just as long as it is not at our expense!).
How to Play Texas Hold´em Poker
Starting Each Hand
Each hand of Texas Hold´em Poker begins with the two players to the left of the “dealer” placing a forced bet. These are known as the “Small Blind” and the “Big Blind”. The amount of the blinds varies according to the format of Texas Hold´em Poker being played and the stake.
For example, in games of $1.00/$2.00 NL and PL Texas Hold´em Poker, the Small Blind is $1.00 and the Big Blind is $2.00. In games of $1.00/$2.00 FL Limit Hold´em Poker, the Small Blind is $0.50 and the Big Blind is $1.00. In poker tournaments and sometimes in cash games, every player will also be required to pay a small ante into the pot.
Once the blinds have been paid, each player receives two hole cards “face down” so that only the player can see them. The object of the game is to use one or both of the hole cards with the five community cards that will be dealt to make the best possible hand.
Before any of the community cards are dealt, there is a round of pre-Flop betting. This starts with the player to the left of the Big Blind – known as “Under-the-Gun” – either calling the Big Blind (in a game of $1.00/$2.00 this would involve paying $2.00 to remain in the hand), raising the Big Blind (paying at least $4.00) or folding their cards.
The action continues clockwise around the table, with each player having the opportunity to call, raise or fold. The action concludes when all active players (who have not folded) have placed equal bets into the pot. In FL Texas Hold´em Poker there is a limit of four circuits of the table before betting is concluded.
When the pre-flop betting action is concluded, three community cards are dealt into the centre of the table. This is known as the “Flop”, and betting on the Flop begins with the first active player still in the hand to the left of the dealer.
The betting options after the Flop are similar to pre-Flop. However if no player has yet made a bet in this round of betting, players also have the option to check and pass the action to the next active player sitting to the left of them.
When the betting action after the Flop is completed, a fourth community card is dealt. This card is known as the “Turn” and betting after the Turn card starts again with the active player to the left of the dealer – who has the same betting options as previously (check, bet, call, raise or fold).
In games of FL Texas Hold´em Poker, the size of the bets now double. Whereas previous rounds of betting (in a $1.00/$2.00 game) were conducted in units of $0.50, the units of betting now become $1.00 for this round and the next.
The final community card to be dealt is the “River”. Once this card has been dealt a final round of betting takes place between the remaining active players – again starting with the active player to the left of the dealer.
Once betting is concluded, the players show their hands starting with the last player to bet or raise. The player with the best five-card hand of poker wins the pot; or, if two or more players have identical winning hands, the pot is shared between them.
Hands of poker have an established hierarchy, and it is important to know which hand beats another. Ideally you should be familiar with the hierarchy before you start playing Texas Hold´em poker, so we have compiled our list of poker hand ranks that you can use as a reference while you are learning the game.
Players should be aware that not every hand of Texas Hold´em Poker goes to a “showdown”. In many hands, one large bet during any round of betting could result in all the active players folding their cards. In this event, the player who has made the bet collects the pot without having to show what cards he or she had.
We have compiled a series of tips that may or may not help new players to avoid the more common mistakes made by novices. These tips are based on our own experiences and from players we have seen at the tables who are obviously new to the game. Handily package in a P.O.K.E.R. acronym, we hope that they are of some help to you.
Patience – Patience is an essential virtue in every format of poker. If you play too many hands, the likelihood is that you will leak chips and your bankroll will disintegrate before your eyes. Better to be patient and wait for the right opportunities to arrive before getting involved in a hand.
Observation – Knowing the betting tendencies of those seated at the table can give you a great advantage when playing Texas Hold´em. We feel that observation – rather than poker software – is the best way to gain knowledge about your opponents and the context in which they make certain actions.
Knowledge – The later it is your turn to act, the more knowledge you have about how strong your opponents consider their hands to be. This can help you decide what your own best course of action should be, and whether it is worth calling a big raise in front of you or folding your cards.
Enterprise – Enterprise to us means taking the initiative and being creative. Creativity prevents other players from identifying your betting traits. For example, we believe that it is better to lose a few chips and get caught bluffing, so that your future bets with premium hands will get called more frequently.
Risk – Your propensity to risk is influenced by your motives for playing online poker and also what stake level you are playing at. We have compiled a poker bankroll guide to help players manage their poker funds more effectively, and – even if you chose to ignore it – you should never invest more money on a poker site than you can comfortably afford to lose.