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Texas Hold’em

This community poker variant is, without a doubt, the most popular poker ‘breed’ ever. Its name a clear indication, it originates from Texas and was probably first played in around 1900. It was supposedly brought over to Las Vegas, Nevada, by a bunch of Texan gamblers (the likes of Amarillo Slim and Doyle Brunson) and popularized via the Golden Nugget Casino.

When the Dune Casino took over the nurturing of this relatively young poker genre in 1969, its popularity exploded as it offered excellent grounds for pros to take advantage of the huge influx of fish the casino provided. The game really took off to world fame when the Binion’s Horseshoe accepted it as it’s main event for the - now world famous - World Series of Poker.

The game itself is played with a 52 card deck and as such, it allows for 22 players at a table, (or 23 if they decide not to use burncards).

It is a positional game as the dealer’s position (known as the ‘button’) remains fixed and it moves in a clockwise direction around the table with one position after every played hand.

Antes are sometimes used for betting but mostly it’s the blinds system that is embraced, with the small and big blinds being posted by the player to the left of the button and the player next to him in a clockwise direction, respectively.

The small blind is half the amount of the big blind, which is also the minimum bet for the first round of betting.

For a better understanding of game mechanics, let us take a closer look at how a hand is actually played:

The dealer burns the top card of the deck and then begins handing every player (in a clockwise direction) two cards placed face down. The two cards also known as ‘hole cards’ or ‘pocket cards’ are only going to be visible by each particular player they’ve been dealt to. After every player gets their pocket cards, the player immediately to the left of the button, posts the small blind, followed by the big blind posted by the following player (again, in a clockwise direction). After the big blind is posted, the true betting begins. This is where things can get ugly, especially in No Limit holdem, when based purely on preflop odds many a player might try to ‘bully’ out some opposition early on. It is of course a natural desire for players to see the flop at least, before they decide whether to play the hand ot not, but many times pocket cards are all it takes for some to know whether it’s worth to contribute to the pot at all. In Fixed Limit Holdem and Pot limit Holdem this is much less of a nuisance as there’s no really effective way to bully other players around this early in the hand.

After the betting round ends, the dealer burns another card and shows the flop. (lays three community cards out, onto the table) The three community cards will be visible be every player, and players shall be required to make a hand using their two hole cards and the three community flop cards on the table. Based on the potential value of the hand they can make, and a bunch of other factors ( more about those in our articles section), players bet again. This is the point where experts say the game is 70% decided, so this is really the turning point of the hand. Players who reckon it is worth for them to feed the pot further, will remain in the game, (also players who decide to bluff or to risk a backdoor comeback), all the rest will fold and give up any equity they may hold in the current pot.

After the post-flop betting, the dealer burns yet another card and posts a 4th community card onto the board. This card is referred to as ‘turn’ or ‘4th street’. This is followed by yet another round of furious betting, as players still in the game, will have a much clearer look into how their final hand will shape up, and in the same time they’ll all have a much larger pot-equity to fight for, too.

The betting round over, the dealer burns a card and posts the 5th and last community card called the ‘river’. This one is followed by the last betting round, and by now it should be clear to every remaining player what his/her chances are to win the pot. This is the time to get aggressive on the betting and let the others know who’s in charge. Just be careful, if someone does have a better hand you’ll burn yourself all the more if you play it aggressive.

At the showdown every player shows the poker hand he/she made using one or both of his hole cards and three or four of the community cards from the table. The one to show the best hand takes the pot.

As simple as the game itself may seem from the above description, it is truly anything but that.

What I didn’t yet mention, is the psychology-aspect of the game and all the different strategies it can involve. Keeping all these in sight you’ll soon realize it is in fact a game of an overwhelming complexity.

As far as basic poker strategy goes, experts recommend the tight-aggressive approach, preaching that that is the ‘sound’ way to play poker.

In order for you to understand what tight and aggressive is first of all we need to put a few poker-concepts behind us:

According to how many hands they get in on, players are classified into tight and loose players. A tight player folds often and only plays a few solid hands, a loose player, on the other hand, attempts to see at least some action on almost every hand dealt.

Based on their betting-approach players are classified into passive and aggressive. A passive player calls a lot and never raises (these players are also known as ‘calling stations’) an aggressive player raises and checkraises all the time to make the others suffer.

A combination of a guy who’s tight and aggressive is thought to be the best type of player though oppinions may differ (mine does for one...) and frankly the best strategy for every one person is the one that works. Simple as that.

I’ll throw my own fifty cents in on poker strategy in our articles section, so check there if you feel it may be worthy of your attention.

As far as Holdem variations go - as I’ve already mentioned above - there are the No limit, Pot limit and Fixed limit versions.

No limit Holdem is what they play in the WSOP and WPT main events, where basically any amount of raise is accepted at any time during a hand. Often players go all in, (betting all their chips) and thus the game becomes rather spectacular, though it’s not something I’d recommend for beginners.

In Pot Limit Holdem players may only raise the amount of the current pot, so things are a lot less likely to get out of hand.

In fixed Limit Holdem there’s an actual pre-determined limit to the raises people can make during the game.

In the relatively recently developed online poker world Texas Holdem is also the most popular of the bunch. Though most poker rooms offer Omaha Hi-Lo and other poker games as well, Texas Holdem is the one players flock to.

Do not forget to check out our poker room review section if you’re interested in finding out about the best poker rooms as far as playing experience goes, and our rakeback sections if you’re really set on squeezing the most out of your game.

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