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The game itself is actually very logical and simple and requires just a few minutes to learn. Mastering it, however, will take you a bit longer.
Texas hold’em is the most popular of all poker variations. All of the marquee tournaments around the world (WSOP, WPT, EPT, etc.) are played in a variation of this game.
Don’t let the simplicity of the game mislead you. The number of possible game situations is so vast that, when playing at a high level, the game can be very complex.
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Texas Hold’em is a community card poker game, with game play focused as much on the betting as on the cards being played. Although the rules and game play remain mostly the same, the end goal is slightly different depending on if you’re playing a cash game or a tournament. A Hold’em tournament is the same as any other game of Hold’em with a few added rules and twists.
Texas Holdem is played on a single table with two to 10 players. The goal is simple: win as many chips as you can, one pot at a time. You win a pot by having the best hand, or by having all other players fold before the showdown. The structure of Texas Hold’em can be broken up into three main divisions:
- Betting Rounds
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Once you have your players sitting around the table, the first thing you need to have is chips. Before you can figure out what kind of chips to give each player, you need to understand how the game works a little better, so we’ll get back to this. For now, assume all players have chips in front of them.
The next step is picking the player who will start with the dealer button. Hold’em is played with what’s known as a rotating dealer, meaning a player will act as the dealer for one hand, handing the role of dealer to the player on their left when the hand is completed.To choose the dealer, either deal every player one card, or spread the cards facedown on the table and have every player choose one.
The player with the highest-valued card (aces are high for selecting a dealer) starts as the dealer.If you’re in a place with a professional dealer, or someone volunteers to always physically deal the cards, the dealer button will still rotate around the table.Even though he or she is physically dealing the cards, for all intents and purposes, the person with the button is viewed as being the dealer for the hand. Once the hand completes, the player with the dealer button will pass it to the player on his or her left
Putting Out the Blinds
Now that you have a dealer, you need to put out the blinds.
There are two blinds in Holdem – a small blind and a big blind. The player directly to the left of the dealer puts out the small blind. The big blind (exactly, or conveniently close to, double that of the small blind) is placed by the player to the left of the small blind. The size of the blinds will dictate the stakes of the game you’re about to play. Typically, you want players to buy in for no less than 100 times the size of the big blind.
If you want to buy in for $20, you should play with blinds 10¢/20¢, or for convenience, most people will play 10¢/25¢.
Back to chips: Once the blinds are set we know what kind of chips we’ll need to play. (In the above example, we’d use 10¢ chips, 25¢ chips and maybe a few $1 chips.)
You want to give players enough chips in each denomination to allow the game to run smoothly.
Typically a player will need only 10% of their total chips in the smallest denomination, as they are only ever used to pay the small blind. For the most part, all betting will be done with chips larger than that of the small blind.
Once you have the blinds out, you’re now ready to deal the first hand.
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