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HOW TO PLAY TEXAS HOLD’EM

Betting Limits
  Texas Hold’em is played for a wide variety of limits.  What all of these limits have in common is that they adhere to the same betting structure, which is a 1:2 ratio.  The bets before the flop and on the flop will be exactly one small bet, the lower betting tier, and the bets on the turn and river will be exactly one big bet, the higher betting tier (twice the small bet). 
  The most common betting limits are $ 1-$ 2, $ 2-$ 4, $ 3-$ 6, $ 4-$ 8, $ 5 –$ 10 , $ 10-$ 20, $ 15- $ 30, $ 20- $ 40, $ 30- $ 60, $ 60- $ 120, $ 100- $ 200 and $ 300- $ 600.  You must bet exactly the amount mentioned and that is why this is called a structured game.  You are not free to bet, for example, $ 4 or $ 5in a $ 3-$ 6 game.
  Another betting structure that has become very popular is called $ 1-$ 4-$ 8-$ 8 limit.  This means that you may bet from $ 1 to $ 4 before the flop, and you may bet from $ 1 to $ 4 after the flop.  On the turn you can bet between $ 1 and $ 8 and you can make the same bet on the river.

Number of Players
  Texas Hold’em can be played with as few as two players and with as many as twenty-two players.  The most desirable number of players is ten and many Las Vegas poker rooms play eleven-handed.

High Hand Wins
  Hold’em played for high hand only.  Standard high hand wins.  There are no wild cards.  Remember, the final poker hand is made up of exactly five cards.

Small Blind and Big Blind
  The Blinds are used to force action from the first two players to the left of the dealer by having them put money into the pot before the cards are dealt.  The big blind is always the same as the small bet and the small blind is one-half of the big blind.  For example in a $ 2-$ 4 game, the player to the immediate left of the dealer puts $ 1 into the pot, called the small blind.  The player to the left of the small blind puts $ 2 into the pot, called the large, or big blind.  ( The one exception to this blind structure is when the game is short handed, and then there is only the big blind.  This will be covered in detail in a later chapter.)
  Due to the fact that there are two blinds, there is no ante in Texas Hold’em as there is in stud and draw odds poker.

Play of the Game
Initial Two Cards
  Each player is dealt two cards face down.  These cards are called the pocket cards.  Do no show these cards to any other player since this constitutes your entire private hand.
  Starting with the player to the immediate left of the big blind, and moving clockwise, each player has the option of either folding, (mucking your hand), calling, (keeping your hand and putting the correct amount of money in the pot) or raising, increasing the bet by an amount of at least as much as the previous bet.
  If no one has raised by the time the action comes back to the small blind, he can either fold, call the remainder of the big blind bet, or raise at least the amount of the big blind.  For example, in a $ 1-$ 4- $ 8-$ 8 game, a raise of $ 1 is not allowed because all raised in poker must be for at least the amount of the previous bet.  In a structured game ($ 3-$ 6, $ 5-$ 10) the raise must be the small-tiered amount.  Since the blinds had to put their money in the pot before they saw their hands, they have the option of raising themselves.

  If no one has raised by the time the action gets back to the big blind, he then has an option to raise.  The dealer will ask him “Option” and the big blind has to answer with either, “Check,” (“I bet nothing”) or “I raise”.  The raise is the same as the lower tier bet.


The Flop
  After the first betting round, the dealer burns the top card, removes it from play, and turns the next three cards face up on the board.  This is the flop.  There is a round of betting with a small bet and three raise limit.  Players may check, not bet, and pass play on to the next player must either call the bet or raise, or he must fold and go out of play.  Checking is no longer possible once a bet is made.  This is true on this and all future rounds. Some casino holdem have a four raise or even a five raise limit, so it is wise to ask before you start playing.

The Turn
  There is another burn and a fourth card, called the turn card is placed face up on the table.  A round of betting follows, only this time you can bet from $ 1 to $ 8 in a $ 1-$ 4-$ 8-$ 8 game, or the higher tier in a structured game.  For example in a $ 3-$ 6 game you now must bet or raise in $ 6 increments.1

The River
  A fifth, and final card called the river or end is turned face up on the table.  There is a final round of betting according to the same betting guidelines as on the turn.

The Showdown
  After all the action is complete, there is a showdown.  All the active players who want to claim the pot then show their hands.  Using the pocket cards and the five cards on the board, each player (with the dealer) then determines what the best poker hand is.  High hand wins.
  The dealer button then moves one player to the left marking the new dealer’s position, and the blinds are posted by two new players.

Ranks of Poker Hands and Why they’re Ranked that Way
  The ranks of poker hands are standardized today but it wasn’t always like that.  Gone are the days when a poker player could make a skip, blaze or a tiger or any number of other exotic poker hands.  Poker hands are ranked the way they are today because it’s based on one cold, had fact: the exact odds of being dealt that hand in exactly five cards.  The more difficult it is to receive a certain five card hand, the higher it’s ranked on the scale of poker hands.

  One important point to make here is that a poker hand is determined by using only five cards regardless of how many you’re dealt, how many cards you have to choose from or exactly which style or game of poker you’re playing.  Also, there is no such thing as any one suit taking precedence over another suit as in some bidding or trump card games.  A royal flush in hearts is no higher or lower a poker hand than a royal flush in spades.
  Remember to use all the cards on the board, especially when you make two pair.  If you have A♥ 6♥ and the board is A♣ J♦ T♠ 4♦, you’re not beat just because your opponent has A♠ 9♠.  You both have Aces and Jacks with a Ten kicker.

Poker Hands Ranked in Order of Strength
  Royal flush:  A,K, Q, J , T of the same suit.  There are only four of these possible, one for each suit.
  Straight Flush:  A hand that has five cards of the same suit in sequence.
  Four of a Kind:  Four cards of the same rank.  The fifth card is irrelevant unless, in Hold’em, the community cards show the four of a kind.
  Full House:  Three of a kind and one pair.  The three of a kind determines the highest full house in the event there is more than one full house in a hand.
  Flush:  Five cards of the same suit that do not make a straight flush.
  Straight:  Five cards in sequence but not of the same suit.
  Three of a kind:  Three cards of the same rank.
  Two Pair:  Two different pair with one odd card.
  One Pair:  One pair with three odds cards.
  High Card:  Five cards that cannot make any one of the above hands.  In this case, the hand with the highest ranking card is the poker winner.  A 9 5 4 3 beats K Q 9 5 4.

  There are 2,598,960 ways to be dealt one particular poker hand in five cards.  The following chart shows how it breaks down into all possible poker hands.


Odds of Being Dealt Poker hands

Poker Hand

Odds Against

Example

Royal  flush

649,739 to 1

A ♦ K♦ Q♦ J♦ T♦

Straight Flush

  64,973 to 1

7♣ 6♣ 5♣ 4♣ 3♣

Four of a Kind

    4,164 to 1

8♠ 8♥ 8♦ 8♣ Q♠

Full House

  693 to 1

K ♣ K ♦ K ♥ T ♠ T ♥

Flush

       508 to 1

A ♥ J ♥ 9♥ 7♥ 3♥

Straight

  254 to 1

Q♠ J♥ T♦ 9♣ 8♠

Three of a Kind

    46 to 1

7♥ 7♦ 7♣ K♥ 2♦

Two Pair

    20 to 1

J♣ J♦ 5♥ 5♠ 9♠

One Pair

1.25 to 1

9♥ 9♦ A♥ 8♠ 2♦

No Pair

    1.002 to 1.000

A♥ T♠ 9♦ 5♣ 2♠


  The only poker game that these odds apply to directly is 5-card Stud, a game where you’re dealt exactly five cards with no opportunity to draw or otherwise exchange your cards.  The exact odds of being dealt the above hands in 7-card Stud and Texas Hold’em will vary of course, because you’ll have seven cards with which to make your best five card hand.  But that doesn’t change the fact that the above list is the agreed upon convention and it applies to all forms of poker.

Mistakes & Disputes
     Any time you have a online poker dealer dealing hands to players at the rate of 40 hands per hour, there’s bound to be a few mistakes.  Some of the more common errors are burning to be a few mistakes.  Some of the more common errors are burning and turning the turn card before the action is complete, accidentally exposing one of the blind’s first cards, miscalling hands on the river and pushing the pot to the wrong player.
  Sometimes you’ll look down and see A♣ A♥ K♥ K♠ or A♦ K♠ and then hear the dealer say, “Bring‘em back” because of a misdeal.  Keep in mind that those cards were never really yours to begin with because you would not have gotten them if the dealer had dealt the hand correctly. 
  Mistakes and disputes are an integral part of the game of poker and you should stay calm and take it all in stride.

All-in
  Sometimes a player will be involved in a hand and run out of money to bet before the hand is over.  Since all casino poker games are table stakes only, you are not allowed to put more money on the table in the middle of a hand.  when you run out of money and put your last dollar in the pot, you are said to be all-in and you cannot win any more money than what is in the pot at this point.
  As an example, lets say you have Q♦ J♥ in the pocket and you have $ 14 in checks in front of you at the beginning of the hand.  You call $ 2 to see the flop, along with two other players.  The flop is T♣ 9♦ 4♥ and you bet $ 4 and are called by the same two players.  There is now $ 18 in the pot.  The turn is the 6♠ and you check and call with your last $ 8.  There is now $ 42 in the pot and you are now out of money.  That $ 42 pot is all you can win since you ran out of money at that point.
  The dealer puts that pot aside and all future betting on the river goes into a side pot that you cannot win any part of, since you cannot put money into it.  The river card is the K♣, making you the nut straight.  One of the other players in the hand bets $ 8 and is called by the other player, creating a side pot with $ 16 in it.  The dealer asks to see only the two hands involved in the side pot (hold on to your cards and don’t show them to the dealer until asked), and awards the side pot to the player who has the best of the two hands.
  The dealer then asks to see your hand to determine if you can beat the winner of the side pot.  Since you have the best hand you are awarded the main pot of $ 42.  you in effect got to play the river card for free (you don’t have to fold when you’re all-in ) but you couldn’t win any more money when you made the best hand.