22August2017

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Texas Holdem

Poker is a card game of skill, of bluff and of luck. Texas Hold’em – the world’s favourite poker game – is very easy to learn, but only a select few master it. The aim of Hold’em is to create the best five card hand with the two cards in your hand (hole cards) and the five cards on the table (community cards). By the end of the hand then, there will be seven cards available to each player, but only five cards need to be used to make the strongest hand.

Hole cards are dealt to players face down. The dealer deals to his left first. Immediately to the left of the dealer the player will be responsible for putting in a small blind. A small blind is an arbitrary amount of chips/money that has been pre-determined. To the left of the small blind the next player is responsible for the big blind. The big blind is almost always double that of the small blind. Blind levels are usually time-specific. For example, during a tournament it may have been determined that blinds will double every half an hour. So, the first player to make a decision at the table is the player third to the left of the dealer. If we assume that the game is No Limit (no maximum bet) – as this is the most popular game – this player can either fold (throw away his hand), call the big blind (equal the bet put in by the player in the big blind position), or make any bet that is between double the big blind and the total number of chips in front of him or her (an all in bet). As you can see, there is a lot of freedom in betting in No Limit Hold’em.

The betting continues around the table, with each player making the simple decision – fold their hand, call the last bet, or make a raise on top of the last bet. In theory, everyone around the table could put all of their chips into the pot before any community cards have been dealt, but this would be an incredibly rare/foolish outcome! Once everyone has made their decision, the flop is dealt. The flop is the first three community cards. An identical round of betting ensues. The dealer then puts the fourth community card (turn) on the table, and there is another round of betting. Finally the fifth community card (river) is dealt, and players carry out the final round of betting. After this round of betting we get to the showdown.

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