If you have ever wanted to learn how to play poker, you’ve probably wondered “what is Texas hold ’em?” Most people have heard of the poker variant Texas Hold’em because of the World Series of Poker and other televised events. While there are many different types of poker that you can play, over the last twenty years Texas Hold’em has become the most popular by far.
So what is Texas Hold’em?
The game is similar to Omaha but has a few key differences. It’s a closed-table poker game that’s played on one table which generally means there are a maximum of ten players per game. The game’s rules are simple: each player has two hold cards and the table shares three community cards and the best five-card hands are made from these seven cards per player.
The most common variant of Texas hold ’em is no-limit, in which players can bet all their chips. Another variant is pot-limit, where each player must match the chips in the pot. The highest five-card poker hand will win the pot. Several variations exist, and the game is increasingly popular with gamers worldwide. Regardless of your level of expertise, there are several ways to learn to play this popular game.
The first step to learning the rules is to get familiar with the game. Before playing, it’s important to know the strength of your hands. As the strength of your hands varies, so will your strategy. If you’re holding a good hand, you may want to appear to be weak and try to fool other players into folding. The best way to evaluate your hand strength is with a calculator or counting outs. You can also use calculators to count the cards in the deck.
As you probably already know, there is a hierarchy of hands in poker beginning with a high card and progressing up to a royal flush (or a straight from 10 – A where all cards are the same suit). In case you don’t know, or it has been a while since you played poker, these are the winning hands in poker from lowest to highest:
- High Card (A beats a K and K beats a Q and so on)
- Pair (Any two cards of the same number)
- Two Pair
- Three of a kind
- Straight (Five cards in a row numerically)
- Flush (Five cards all of the same suit)
- Full house (Three cards of matching numerical value and two cards of a different matching value)
- Four of a kind (Four cards of the same number)
- Straight flush (Five cards in a row numerically and of the same suit)
Progression of what is Texas Hold’em:
The Hole Cards
The first thing to consider when you are wondering what Texas hold’em is the initial deal. To begin, the dealer will give each player two cards that are hidden until the final showdown. These cards will be used by each player to make their best hand along with the community cards that will be dealt face up later in the hand.
Following the initial deal, there is a first round of betting. The player to the left of the dealer will contribute a small blind (half of the big blind amount) and the player to their left will put a big blind into the main pot. The next player to the left will start the action and will either match the big blind, increase the bet size or fold their cards. This will continue around the table until betting reaches the big blind player and everyone continuing in the game has put in the same amount.
Strategy dictates that if you have a very good starting hand, a pair of Aces for example, that you would bet in this round. This is called pre-flop round, and it can be useful to increase the pot on a hand that you are confident you could win or to buy the blinds which means you take down all of the money initially put in the pot and move on to the next hand.
The flop is a set of three cards laid down by the dealer face up in the middle of the poker table. These cards are the first that can be used by any player to make the best possible hand to beat their opponents. Once the flop has been shown, the betting begins with the player to the left of the dealer who is still part of the hand. Just as before, betting progresses clockwise around the table until it reaches the dealer. Generally, the dealer is considered to have the strongest position in poker because they are last to act in each round of betting. This position is called “on the button”.
Betting after the flop (or at any time really) includes several options. You can check, which means that you are not betting but you are also not laying down your hand. If you are the first to act, you can bet any amount. You may also bet after another player has already bet, which is called a continuation bet, but you must bet at least twice the amount originally used. For example, if the player acts before you bet $10, the minimum bet you may raise is $20. You can call, which means you are putting the same amount of money into the pot as the person ahead of you who bet. Finally, you can fold, which means you are laying down your hand and are no longer participating in the game.
What is Texas hold’em and The Turn
The fourth card to be turned on the board, or in the middle of the table, is called the turn card. This is a single card dealt by the dealer to the community cards that can be used by any and all players to make their best five card hand. This card is essential to what is Texas hold’em, because it makes the number of cards more than the usual five necessary for a poker hand. It is one of the parts of the game that makes it unique from games such as five card stud. Following the turn card, there is another round of betting which takes place prior to the final card dealt.
The final card dealt in Texas hold’em is referred to as the river. It is your last chance to make the best possible hand using your two hole cards as well as the community cards in the middle of the table. Again the betting begins at the left of the dealer for any player who remains in the hand. Once betting is done, the hand is complete and it is time to move on to the show down.
Along with questions about what is Texas hold’em, many people wonder about the term show down for the end of the game. When the final betting is complete, if there is more than one player standing, each player needs to turn their cards to determine who has the best hand and therefore will add the pot to their stack of chips. The rules of the showdown say that the player who calls the final bet must show their cards first. If the other players know that they are beat, they can concede the hand without showing their cards. Otherwise, all players show their hands and the best hand wins the pot. If two players have the same hand, this is called a split pot and the chips are split evenly amongst the players who won.
One final thing to consider when learning the rules of Texas hold’em, is that many hands don’t make it to the river. Throughout the course of the game, oftentimes people will fold a hand that they think is inferior to their opponents. Because of this, many hands of poker are “bought” by a big stack with a great hand or someone who is bluffing to represent that they have the highest cards. Keep in mind that if you fold you don’t have to show your cards and if everyone at the table folds to you this rule is the same. Not showing your cards, even if you are the winner, is generally a good practice as it prevents other players from learning any of your habits or tells that may help them to read your cards in the future.
Texas hold’em is by far the most popular poker game in the world at this point in time. Learning what is Texas hold’em though is more than understanding the logistics and the rules of betting. In order to become the best poker player possible, it is essential that you not only read about how to play but also practice with friends or in online games.