Texas Holdem Rules
Poker Rules : Texas Holdem
Texas Holdem is without doubt the most exciting card game ever devised, particularly in the No Limit variety. It may look straightforward as there are only 7 cards involved in each round and the best five will win, but the rules of this poker game are somewhat more challenging than you might think.
The rules state that the game is played with a standard deck with 2 up to 10 players using that deck. Play travels in a clockwise direction starting to the left of the dealer. The player immediately to the left of the dealer puck is the small blind with the big blind to the left of them (please see the Blinds section just below "Holdem Rules" in the help box on the left).
Action begins with the player to the left of the big blind deciding on a course of action which can be to:
Bet matching the big blind to stay in;
Raise by placing more chips in the pot than are required to match the big blind, or;
Fold also known as mucking your hand.
The betting round ends when all remaining players have an equal amount in the pot. The Dealer then places three cards known as "the Flop" in the centre of the table, face up. These are Community Cards which can be used by any player still in the hand. A round of betting occurs this time commenced by the Small Blind.
Next card put out by the dealer is the fourth Community Card also known as the "Turn Card". The third and penultimate round of betting takes place.
The fifth and final shared card is dealt face up on the table. This is also known as "the River". Final round of betting, once again led by the Small Blind (or if he's not in the hand at this point, clockwise from there). There follows a Showdown with the best 5 of 7 winning the pot.
Those are the basic Texas Holdem Rules.
& Tips | Making
Playing Texas Holdem
What this game has in common with many other card games is the fact that is it far more difficult that it may appear. Although it is possible, very few beginners make it to the finals of major tournaments. Lady Luck plays her part in any one game but skill, and experience through practice is the best strategy.
When you start playing do so at a very low level. Begin by playing for free, or for stakes as low as 5c/10c. Real money games are more realistic because with free play people have nothing to lose which creates something of a random environment with significant playing variance. You don't get that with real money (even at the lowest stakes) because people quite rightly become much more serious about their playing cards.
Work from the lowest levels, and stay there passing up the temptation to move up until you are certain that you can consistently make money on the level you are at.
One of the most common mistakes I've seen with new players to Texas Holdem is they grasp the game very quickly, wrongly assume that the outcome has something to do with the cards you hold (it doesn't, the game is all about how you read your opponents and how you play them in difference circumstances). Having practiced at free play for a while and seen the variance I described above they conclude that Texas Holdem is mostly a game of luck based on the cards you receive. They stride out into real money play with little more than a grasp of the rules and are surprised to be beaten. Initially they put this down to luck, and then to the cardroom (an absurd suggestion as the cardrooms have far more to lose than to fix the result of any particular game).
Players that put the time in to practice, learn various situations and who gain an understanding of the mathematics of this poker game are the long term winners. I urge all prospective new players to read the poker diary of "The Doris" whose online diary can be read from my poker blog in the left hand column. This is a true story and carries a number of interesting insights to the game plus many learning points for the Texas Holdem Beginner.
Holdem Strategy & Tips
1. Pair of Aces - not difficult to play, but always remember that while it is undoubtedly a fantastic start, a single pair rarely wins a showdown. The hardest part about big AA is laying it down if you have to. The best strategy for maximising the value of wired aces is to bet it enough from the start so that you do not end up in a community pot with nine other players. The same strategy should apply to paired Jacks, Queens and Kings.
2. Low-Middle Pairs - Well worth seeing a flop with these cards if it's not too expensive but unless you're playing heads up you are unlikely to win without hitting the three of a kind. Making "a set" is a powerful hand because your opponents will not see it coming.
3. Ace X - Hole cards Ace King or Ace Queen are very strong starting hands, but require you to pair up on the flop. Well worth betting pre-flop provided there are is no significant action out there. If there is, call but be wary of AA, KK. Best case, and this happens often you'll find yourself up against someone holding Ace with an inferior kicker. That brings us onto A9 and lower. Always fold these cards! One of the big weaknesses in the online game today is players being sucked along because they saw a flop with say A9 hit the Ace on the flop and call along to the showdown even though they know they've probably got outkicked. This is a reoccurance of a strategic problem people have in that they are unable to fold AA (even if it is with a 9 kicker or less).
4. Suited Connectors - Great cards to hold in 10 handed games. Always see the flop, and work out the maths from there. Quite often you'll make 4 to the flush which is a great drawing position to be in especially if high cards are on the board. Chances of making the flush with the Turn Card and River Card still to play are only 1 in 3, but often those can be attractive pot odds. Don't get carried away if you hit middle or bottom pair, the chances of improving to trips or two pair are less than 1 in 3 and chasing is likely to be a statistically bad play.
After The Flop
Everything is changed by the flop, you should expect that and not be surprised by it. Accept that you may have lost the lead and be prepared to alter your strategy accordingly. The best players in Texas Holdem recognise this and reassess their position rather than simply pushing forward oblivious to what might have happenned. Whatever you now hold, do also recognise that your chances of improving on it are no better than 50:50 at best. The following should be considered:
1. If you have an open ended straight draw or a flush draw requiring only 1 card then stick with it unless your opponent is scared by the flop and bets it hard. The converse is also true so if you hold AA Hearts and Spades and the flop shows three diamonds with several players still in the pot you need to recognise that you are in trouble. In this situation you may need to bet hard to shake off the draw callers. As I mentioned above the chances of your opponent catching the suited card he needs are only 1 in 3 so if he's going to chase, make him pay.
2. Folding is always an option, forget this at your peril! One of the most important things to master along with table position, and bluffing is know when to fold. You cannot win every hand, but most people are optimists and hope the next card with help them out. Its the same false hope that drives people to play the lottery - absolutely no chance of winning but people can get fanatical about buying tickets. The same is true of poker - there are always people who think the winning card is around the corner. To do really well in this game you have to maximise your gains (a concept that is well understood by all players) but also minimise your losses (something that's rarely mastered). So if you have no draw and no matches get out of the game. The only exceptions to this would be a bluff based on table position or a need to change your table personality (discussed below).
3. When you hit the big hand, remember that someone could have an even better one! I'm not trying to be negative here - if you make a flush then nine out of ten times you have the winning hand. I'm simply saying recognise the other possibilities that are out there. For example I often see people with a made flush betting a board that is something like AA989. In this instance your flush is always going to be beat by someone holding an Ace or a 9 making the Full House.
4. Ok, time to be positive. If you hit your draw then you probably are the winner - make the most of it especially if there are other high cards on the board. Lots of people bet hard with overcards, or a pair of aces. Not much use against your straight or flush so take the money when it available.
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Financially Rewarding Texas Holdem Strategies
Most people look to player No Limit Texas Holdem, with the mathematicians among us gravitating towards Limit Poker (a dull game in my view). Pot Limit poker is often overlooked but is a good way to play against loose agressive players because they are unable to bet you out of the flop. Don't overlook the opportunity offered by Pot Limit Texas Holdem, its really No Limit but with cheap flops.
Its important to see the best hand out there at any one time. This is called "the nut hand" or simply "the nuts". Its fairly rare to hold this hand, but wonderful when you have it and someone bets at you. If you always know what the best hand can be then you know how far away you are from it, how likely you are to hold it, and what the odds of someone beating your hand are (if you are close). On the rare occasions you actually do find yourself with the nuts then bet it hard in the hope of takers.
Recognise the importance of table position and use it wisely. Good Table position combined with an appropriate betting strategy is more important than the cards you hold. Most players don't even know what Table Position is - if you find yourself in that category please see the seperate section I have in the poker help section on the left hand column.
Bluffing is an integral part of the game. Learn to do it, and bluff often it's the only way to win long term. Used in connection with table position it can be an effective strategy. If you get caught out occasionally that's not such a bad thing either as I'll explain in the playing style paragraph below.
Alternate your playing style. Almost everyone you come across in online Texas Holdem has a style and sticks with it. In no time at all you'll be able to recognise the playing style for what it is, and play against it accordingly. The most common playing style is that of a Rock. Someone who waits for the best starting cards and plays them. They are easy to spot, and easy to avoid. In low limit games put aside your caution and come out with say $5 pre-flop five times on the trot, no matter what you have but starting with poor cards. The first two or three times you do this you'll likely find everyone fold, especially those that have watched you sit there for a few rounds. Eventually, having stolen a few blinds and maybe even some bets your opponents will cotton on and call you. If you lose at this point thats no bad thing. When they see you have nothing they'll assume you are an idiot and discount your future play. That's the key, with the persona of a fool you can really clean up when you hit a decent hand because people remember your lousy plays earlier in the game.
When you progress in Texas Holdem you'll find the players at higher stakes using all of these strategies. Your opponents become increasingly difficult to read. The best players (who by no coincidence can be found playing the highest stakes) use combinations of the above. The message to all new players has to be start low, really low limit and do not move up until you prove to yourself that you can win. Read my poker blog for real life experiences - I recommend reading "theDoris" which reflects the journey of a new player into a profitable position. The player in question took it seriously, read up on his strategy using sites like mine, and took it step by little step. Whatever playing stage you are at I wish you well with your poker game.
Published on: 2003-11-01 (52418 reads)[ Go Back ]