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Playing the Games - Texas Hold'em
Basics of Texas Hold'em
- The two players to the left of the dealer put out blind bets. The player directly to the dealer's left puts out the small blind while the player two to the dealer's left puts out the big blind.
- Don't know what blinds are? Read more about Betting Basics.
- Every player is dealt two cards, face down. These are called hole or pocket cards.
- The action, or the first move, falls on the player to the left of the big blind. The player can either call the bet, raise it, or fold. Betting continues around the table, clockwise.
- After the betting is completed, three cards are dealt face up in the center of the table, which is referred to as the board. The first three cards in Texas Hold'em are called the flop. These cards are “community cards” meaning everyone can (and will) use them in combination with their own hole cards to make the best hand.
- From the flop on, betting begins with the player to the dealer’s left, who can check or bet.
- A fourth card is dealt face up onto the board. This is called fourth street or the turn card.
- Another round of betting.
- The final card is dealt face up. This card is also called fifth street or the river.
- A final round of betting occurs. The remaining players show their cards and the person who can make the best five card hand by combining their pocket cards with the cards on the board wins.
Note: In some rare cases in Texas Hold'em, the five cards making up the board will actually be the best hand, in which case everyone left in the hand divides up the pot.
Before a hand is even dealt, players put money in the pot. This way, each player has something at stake in the game before the first card is dealt.
There are two different ways this is done:
If a game has an ante, every player contributes a certain, predetermined amount to the pot before each hand. It's usually a small bet. For instance, in a nickel-dime-quarter game, it might be a nickel. The important thing about antes to remember is that a player's ante doesn’t count as a bet. It's just a way of getting a pot started.
The other way to start the action rolling is by making players put in a forced bet, called a “blind” before the deal. It's called a blind because you haven't seen a card when you put in this bet -- you're going in without seeing, or blind.
The most common practice is to have the two players to the left of the dealer pay the blinds. The player immediately to the dealer’s left places a smaller bet called the “little blind,” while the player two places to the left puts in the “big blind.”
The amounts of the blinds are fixed and determined before the game begins. Usually the “big blind” is equal to the smallest bet possible, while the little blind is 1/2 or 1/3 of that amount. So, if the minimum bet was $3, the big blind would place a forced bet of $3 and the little blind might put out $1.
The difference between blinds and antes is that blinds do count as a player’s first bet. This means in the first round of betting, no one can “check,” that is, everyone has to bet.
Onto the next page for more on checking, calling, betting, and raising and when you can do each one.
Betting Options: Check, Call, Raise, Fold
Let’s look at how a round of betting goes:
You’re the first to act in a game with antes. There are two things you can do: check (pass the bet) or you can bet. Let’s say you bet.
The next player (the one sitting on your left) can do three things: she can call or see your bet, which means she matches it exactly; she can raise the bet; or she can give up on her hand and fold or "muck" it.
This continues from player to player going around to the left. If someone raises a bet you made, when it comes back to you, you have the same options as everyone else: call, raise, or fold. The round of betting is over when everyone simply calls the last bet and all the players (who haven’t folded) have put in the same amount of money.
A round of betting can also be “checked around” – meaning everyone checks and there’s no money put in the pot that round.
No Limit Texas Hold’em
If you’ve watched Texas Hold’em on television, you’ve seen the world of no limit. It’s just what it sounds like: at any point, you can push all the chips you have in front of you as a bet. There’s absolutely no cap on how much money that is, other than it’s what you have on the table already.
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