Texas Hold ‘em poker has become a world-wide phenomenon over night! The rules are relatively easy when it comes to Texas Hold ‘em but it is the strategy that one must master. The game starts out like most other poker games. It is played at a standard poker table and the number of players ranges from 6 to 10 in professional games. If you are playing at home, you can have as little or as many players as you prefer. The “button” (signifying the dealer but usually isn’t the actual dealer) starts with a particular person and is passed clockwise around the table to the next player each hand. The person to the direct left of the “button” puts up the small blind and the person to their left puts up the big blind. These blinds are to build the pot so there is actually money being played for at the start of the hand.
In Texas Hold ‘em, each player at the table is dealt two cards face down. These cards are to remain hidden until the betting is completed so that no player reveals their cards to another in hopes of helping them strategize. After all the players have received two cards, the betting sequence starts with the player directly to the left of the person that put forth the big blind. This person is faced with three options: call the amount of the big blind, raise the bet to a larger amount, or fold which results in the player forfeiting the hand. When all players that want to stay in have bet the same amount of money, the dealer turns three cards over and places them on the board. These three cards are revealed to all players at the table. This act is known as the “flop”. The goal is for the players to use the community cards (the cards on the board) and their cards to make the best five card hand.
After these three cards are opened and displayed another round of betting occurs. The betting starts with the player that put up the big blind and continues to the left until all players that are “in” have bet the same amount. Players that do not feel their cards are worthy of betting may fold at this point. When the second round of betting is complete, the dealer opens up a single card and displays it on the board. This card is often referred to as “Fourth Street” or “the turn”. Another round of betting starts. If there are still players remaining at the end of this round the dealer opens up one last card and displays it on the board. There are now a total of five cards on the board.
In Texas Hold ‘em, the players may use both of their cards (the two cards in their actual hand) in combination with three cards from the “board” to make the best five card hand. They may also only choose to use one card from their hand if it makes a stronger five card hand with four cards from the “board.” Sometimes when the “board” has a high five card hand displayed on it both players will do what is called “play the board” in hopes that it is the best five card hand that either play has and result in halving the pot. This is where so much of the strategy comes into play in Texas Hold ‘em poker.
The rank of an individual player’s five card hand compared to the rank of their opponent(s) is the deciding factor when it comes to who won the pot. The hands are ranked the same as any other poker game: (starting with the smallest hand) Ace high, one pair, two pair, three of a kind, straight, flush, full house, four of a kind, straight flush, and royal flush.