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How to Play Texas Holdem

How to Play Texas Holdem
By Hank Cashman of

Since the turn of the century, Texas Holdem has been the most popular and most played style of poker. If you are going to compete in the poker world today you need to know how to play Holdem. There are thousands of books that will teach you how to improve your game. I'm going to go over the basics. After this you need to read, practice, play and learn every chance you get. I am a student of the game and always will be. Now join me in class 101.

There are many variations of Holdem. I have written articles on Omaha, Limit, High-Low and other forms of poker. In this we will be talking about No-limit Texas Holdem since it is the most popular.

First, the tools of the trade. You must have a standard 52 card deck. This consists of four suits of thirteen cards each. The suits are Spades, Hearts, Diamonds and Clubs. The cards are numbered from Ace to King. No jokers.

You must have chips. Usually three or more colors are used. In casinos the chips are numbered for their value. In homes and card rooms they are given values by color.


The hand rankings are:

Royal Flush: Five cards in sequence of the same suit with the ace being the high card T, J, Q, K, A all spades.

Straight Flush: Five cards in sequence of the same suit 2,3,4,5,6 all hearts.

Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same rank, four 3’s.

Full House or Boat: Three of one rank with two of another. Example: three 6’s with two 4’s.

Flush: Five cards of the same suit no mater the rank. Example: 2,5,7,9,Q all diamonds.

Straight: Five cards in sequence of different suits. Example: 2,3,4,5,6 of different suits.

Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same rank. Example: Three 8’s.

Two Pair: Two cards of the same rank with another two cards of another rank. Example: Two 5’s with two 8’s.

One Pair: Two cards of the same rank. Example: Two 7’s.

High Card: No pairs, highest card in your hand plays. Example: K high.

To begin the hand two players put in the”Blinds”. These are forced bets to start the action. The player immediately to the dealers left places the “Small Blind”. The player immediately to that player’s left places the “Big Blind”. That is usually double the small blind.

Each player is dealt two cards face down. These are the “Hole cards” or “Pocket cards”. Then there is a round of betting starting with the player immediately to the left of the big blind. Continuing to the left, each player has the option of calling the big blind, meaning putting out the same bet as the big blind. They can fold their hand, putting themselves out of that hand. Or, they can raise by putting in chips equal to at least double the big blind. The big blind has final option to raise or end that round of betting.

The dealer then deals the “Flop”. He takes the top card from the deck and discards it to the side or the “Muck”. The then takes the next three cards and places them face up. These are the community cards that each player can use to make their best hand.

Another round of betting starts with the small blind and continues to the left. Again they can fold, bet equal to the big blind or raise a previous bet.

At the end of that round of betting the dealer will discard the top card and place one card face up on the board. This is the “Turn” or “4th Street”. This is followed by another round of betting.

At the end of that round of betting the dealer will discard the top card and place one card face up on the board. This is the “River” or “5th Street” card. This is followed by the last betting round.

After all betting is finished the last player that placed a bet or raise that was called has to show his cards to announce his hand. He can use any five of the seven cards including the five on the board and the two in his hand. If any player thinks he has a better hand he will turn his cards over (the showdown) to show he has the winning hand. The winner collects his chips.

The dealer position moves to the left one position along with the blinds and we start a new hand.

It is so simple and easy to learn but it will take you a life time to master. I hope this helps to get you started and I'll see you at the tables.

Keep the cards and chips flying.


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