Texas Hold ‘Em has been around for ages but it’s only been in the last 5-to-10 years that its popularity has exploded. Much of that explosion is due to the phenomenal success it has had on television. Most of the major tournaments are broadcast, some live, and it often seems as if this loyal audience cannot get enough.
But there is another reason Texas Hold ‘em has gained such popularity. It’s a game that you can learn in an hour and enjoy for a lifetime. Here’s a brief overview of how the game is played:
Each player is dealt two down cards. These are often called your “Hole Cards”. You don’t want the other players to see these cards so peek at them carefully.
At this point, each player decides if he wants to play or “fold”, meaning get out and not play this hand.
If a player wants to play at this point, he may either bet, check, or raise.
Please note: It is important for beginners to understand that there are three types of games. Limit, No Limit, and Pot Limit. In a regular Limit Texas Hold ‘Em game the amount of the bets are predetermined and you can see what they are in the poker game name. For example, you might want to play $1-$2 table. In this case the bets are $1 and $2. For a Pot Limit game, the betting structure is similar to Limit and No Limit games but the highest bet possible can only be the amount of money in the pot at any given time. No Limit games are the ones you often see on television and the name says it all. In a No Limit game, any player may push all of his chips into the pot, at which time the other players must either call or fold. Because of the huge differences in the betting structures it is very important that new players know which type of game they are getting into before they actually sit down and begin to play.
Once the betting has been completed, three cards are turned up by the dealer. These cards are known as community cards or the Flop. All players use the community cards to, hopefully, improve their hole card standing.
Betting resumes at this point. As before a player may bet, check, or raise. A player may also fold at this point if he hasn’t improved his hand.
Once the betting has been completed, one card is turned faced up to go along with the flop. This card is often referred to as the Turn Card.
Again, there is a round of betting. As before, players decide if they want to stay in or get out.
The last card that the dealer lays down, face up, (the fifth community card) is called The River.
There is a final round of betting where players, again, decide if they want to stay in or get out. Players who have stayed in the game to this point now have 7 cards to use. 5 are on the table, and 2 are in the player’s hand (his hole cards). Using these 7 cards, each player will make his best poker hand using only 5 of the 7 available cards. The player with the highest ranked poker hand wins the pot.
The above is only a very basic format for how this wonderful game is played but it does not take into account all the various strategies that a player can put to work once he or she has gained some experience. As mentioned above, it only takes an hour or so to learn the basics of the game but it can take a lifetime to become a true master at it.