We mentioned before that seven-card stud poker was the most popular poker
game around. Well there's only one rival to it in the casinos, and it goes
by the name of Texas hold'em. In face, many poker rooms around the States
will offer Texas hold'em poker as the dominant game. Some feel it's a more
exciting variation of the game, and still others say it's a more sophisticated
game that stud players should graduate to. Texas hold'em is the game used
for the World Series of Poker tournament.
The game is probably a little different than your classic back-room session.
The big difference is, in Texas hold'em poker every player receives 2
face-down cards for themselves, and all of the players share 5 face-up,
community cards. Like other poker variations, the winner is the player
who has the strongest poker hand (the best combination of all communal
cards and private cards), or is the last remaining player.
A small point of confusion to avoid when jumping into this game, there
is a white disk labeled 'DEALER' on front of one player. This disk (or
button) indicates the current dealer, but of course, the actual card dealing
is still done by the house. With stud poker there are face-up cards to
determine who starts the action, but in Texas hold'em, we have to designate
someone. After a hand is complete the dealer button moves around the table
the to next player, clockwise.
Most often, Texas hold'em poker uses something called 'blinds' to seed
the pot, instead of ante bets. The blind bets are posted before any cards
get dealt, hence the name blind. The two players to the left of the dealer
button have to make blind bets. The first player posts a small blind,
and the second player posts a big blind. The small blind is a fraction
of the minimum bet, while the big blind usually equals the minimum bet.
After the blinds are posted the dealer gives everyone two cards. Since
the small and big blinds are essentially bets, the first to act after
dealing is the person to the left of the player who placed the big blind.
That player has three options:
Fold: drop out of the hand
Call: match the amount of the big blind
Raise: match the amount of the big blind and raise it
The play then moves clockwise around the table with everyone having the
opportunity to place the same bets. When the betting comes back around
to the players who posted blinds, they have the same options to raise,
call or fold. The difference is, since they already posted a blind, they
have already made a partial bet, and only have to make up the difference
between their post and the current bet to stay in.
If the table plays 'live blinds' (most do) then those who posted a blind
are allowed to raise when the betting comes around to them, even if no
other player has raised. This makes for the strange instance of raising
your own bet, but since the blind's were forced, it's not so illogical.
Once the first round of betting has been completed (all based on our
two face-down cards), the next round may begin. The dealer will usually
burn a card from the top of the deck before dealing (meaning the top card
gets removed from play), and then place three cards face up in the center
of the table. We now have enough cards to make a poker hand.
A slang name for the community, or shared cards, is 'the flop'. There
are no more blind bets to place, so the first player to act in the second,
and all subsequent rounds, is the one immediately to the dealers left.
Once this round is complete the dealer burns another card, and deals
the fourth community card. This is sometimes referred to fourth street
(much like seven-card stud), or the turn. After another round of betting,
the dealer burns another card and deals another card to the community.
This is known as fifth street or the river. The fourth and final round
of Texas hold'em poker betting takes place after the last card. If in
the end there is more than one player left, the remaining players will
have a showdown.
Whoever holds the best poker hand wins. Each player's two private cards,
in any combination with the central community cards (also called the 'board'),
may come together for a number of different poker hands, but one will
be superior to the rest. The player can use one, both, or none of their
personal cards in making their poker hand. Of course, if they choose to
only use the board as their hand, the best they could hope for would be
In Texas hold'em, it's not unusual that players will have the same hands.
In the case of a tie, the players split the pot. The dealer button is
moved along clockwise as one hand ends and the next begins.