HOW TO PLAY TEXAS HOLD’EM


In all casino poker games, the dealer does not participate as a player.  The dealer only deals the cards and ensures the games are run honestly and quickly.

At home, you may rotate the deal to each player or elect one person to deal.  You must decide if the dealer can also play.

Texas hold’em is an exciting and fast-action poker game.  Although it appears to be a variation of seven-Card Stud, there are many differences that make it a unique and fun game to play.  Texas Hold’em uses five cards to face up in the middle of the table (called community cards or the “Board”) and each player holds two cards face down.  The community cards are common to the table and are used in determining the best five card hand for each player.

PLAY – A hand of Texas Hold’em begins with the placing of a small disk called a “Dealer Button” in front of a player.  Prior to dealing the cards, the first player to the left of the button posts a small bet called the “Small (or Little) Blind”.  The next player also posts a bet which is generally twice the size of the “small blind and called the “Big (or Large) Blind”.  These bets are “live”, which means that these players need only make up the difference between the current bet and the amount they bet when the action comes back to them.  Also, these blinds may raise even though a raise was not made prior to the action returning to them.

After posting of the blinds, each player is dealt two cards face down, one at a time, beginning with the small blind bettor.  The first player to the left of the big blind bettor starts the betting.  That player may throw the hand away, call the big blind or raise, Action then continues around the table until all players have has an opportunity to exercise their options and all bets have been called.  When the action returns to the blind, this player may also elect to raise even though no raise was made in prior action. 

After the first round of betting, three cards (called the “Flop”) are placed face up in the center of the table.  These cards are community cards used by all players to determine the value of their hand in combination with their two down-cards.  A round of betting follows the flop with action beginning with the first active player to the left of the dealer button.  This round is then followed by two more cards being added face up to the flop, one at a time, with a round of betting following each card.  The forth card turned up in the middle of the table is referred to as the “Turn Card” and the fifth and final card turned up is called the “River Card”.

The winner is the player who makes the best five-card poker hand out of the available seven cards.  These cards may be used in any combination and the players are not required to use any of their down-cards to create their hand.  A player may announce that they are “playing the board”, which means that the best hand they can make are the five community card face up in the middle of the table.  If two players have equal value hands, the pot will then be split into equal amounts for each player.

A very popular form of Texas Hold’em is No-Limited Hold’em.  After the posting of the blinds, you may bet up to whatever amount you have on the table in front of you.  This is the poker game played on many television shows.

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Omaha Hold’em

The rules and playing procedures for Omaha are identical to Texas Hold’em with two very big exceptions.  First, each player is dealt four cards face-down, one at a time.  Next, each player must use two and only two cards of those four dealt to them in combination with tree and only three cards on the board to make the best five-card poker hand.

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7-Card Stud

7-Card Stud is an extremely popular card game where each player receives a total of seven cards with the winning hand determined by using only five of those cards to create the best poker hand.

PLAY – A hand of 7-Card Stud is started with each player dealt two down-cards and one up-card (referred to as the door card) beginning with the first player to the left of the dealer in a clockwise manner.  The player with the lowest up-card is required to start the action with a small bet called the bring-in.  If more than one player has the same rank of low card, then bring-in is determined by alphabetical suit colors, clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades.  Some home players like to ante in addition to and before the bring-in bet.

The first player to the left of the bring-in may then exercise three options: (1) throw the hand away, (2) call the bet or (3) call and raise.  Each following player to the left then has an opportunity to exercise those same options.  If the limit of raise has been met, then the players remaining may only call the bet or throw their hands away.  The action proceeds clockwise until all players have had an opportunity to exercise their options and all bets have been called. 

The remaining players then receive three additional up-cards and one final card facedown, with a round of betting after each round of cards is dealt.  The start of action on each of these rounds is determined by which player has the highest hand sowing at the time.

If two players have equal value hands, then the action begins with the first player to the left of the dealer.  Once all bets have been called after the final betting round, the player with the best five-card poker hand out of seven cards dealt wins the pot.  If two or more players have equal value hands, then the pot will be awarded in equal amounts to the players.  The sixth and seventh cards are never used to determine a winner.

 


CHECKING AND RAISING

Checking and raising is permitted in all games.  This means that the player with the first option to bet may “check”. And if there is a bet made, the player who checked may raise the bettor when the action returns to the player who checked.

 


BETTING “ALL IN” AT A CASINO

All poker games in casinos are table stakes.  In other words, you can only bet what is on the table in front of you.  Nevertheless, you can not be shut out of the pot.  For example: if you have $6left in front of you and someone bet $8, you can call with your $6 and bet “all in” for the main pot.  Any other bets by the other players would be in a side pot that you would not be playing for.

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