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WHAT IT IS AND HOW IT PLAYS
Texas Hold'em is a variation on traditional poker that is insanely popular right now. There aren't any phases where you get to get new cards or anything like that. The basic goal is to make the best hand you can out of the two cards in your hand AND the five cards on the table. Here are the basic mechanics for a single round:
(1) Each round has a "blind" associated with it. This blind is basically the chip amount required to play the hand. The blind is also what the minimum raise amount must be. For example, if the blinds are 6/3 (the big blind and small blind respectively, I'll get to that in a second) then you must put down 6 chips to participate in the hand and the smallest raise you can make is 6.
(2) The players designated as "big blind" and "small blind" MUST put in their chips before the cards are even dealt. The player to the dealer's left is the small blind and the player to their left is the big blind. The big blind must put in the full blind amount (6 in the above example) and the small blind must put in half of that initially.
(3) The dealer deals the cards. Each player is dealt two cards, which they keep for the entire hand and do not show to any other player. You can look at these cards as often as you want although the game will only let you give a real hard look when it's your turn.
(4) At this point people can bet starting with the person to the left of the big blind. Depending on your hand you can either fold, match the big blind, or raise as much as you want. Play continues around the table to the small blind who only has to put in half of the big blind since they already have half out on the table. They can also raise or fold as normal. The big blind has to kick in nothing since they already have the minimum amount out on the table unless someone else has raised. They are free to raise or fold as normal. At this point the first betting phase is done unless someone has raised. If that happens play goes around the table again with people either matching the raise, re-raising, or folding. Once all raises have been met the betting phase ends.
(5) The dealer places the top card in the deck in the discard pile face down then places the next three cards, face up, in the middle of the table. These three cards are called the "flop" and are usable by everybody. You make the best hand you can with these cards and the cards in your hand. For example, if you have an Ace in your hand and there is an Ace in the flop then you just got a pair of Aces.
(6) Another betting phase begins starting with the small blind this time. They can put out any amount of money (as long as it is as at least as much as the big blind) or they can "check." Checking basically says you don't want to bet. The following players can either check as well or they can raise. Play goes around until everyone checks or meets the highest raise. Players can also fold on their turn at any time. It almost never hurts to play until you at least see the flop before you decide to fold or not. Even with the worst hand possible you could end up with a four-of-a-kind.
(7) The dealer places the top card in the deck in the discard pile and then places the next card face up next to the flop. This card is called the "turn." After this another phase of betting exactly the same as (6) goes on.
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(8) The dealer places another card in the discard and then one more card face up. This card is called the "river." After this the final phase of betting is performed and the winner is determined. Normally the person who raised is the first to show their cards and if they win no one else needs to. Everybody is welcome to show their cards if they want. If during any of these betting phases all but one person folds then that person is the winner and they don't have to show their cards at all if they don't want to. From what I've seen the game always has everybody turn up their cards. Maybe this is some form of honor among gamblers in the West or something?
(9) If you lose all your chips you "bust" and have officially lost the money you put in. Try again!
TEXAS HOLD'EM HANDS FROM WORST TO BEST
High card - Nobody managed to make a pair or better so the person with the highest card wins. Basically it's who has the highest card in their hand at this point, but if all five cards on the table are higher than what everybody else has then the pot should be split among everyone (not sure if there is a splitting mechanism in the game but I wouldn't be surprised).
Pair - Two cards that have matching numbers. The pair can be either in your hand, on the table, or a combination of the two.
Two Pair - Two pairs of cards. This is the highest combination of pairs you can get (there is no three pair). So if there are three pairs between your hand and the table then you use the highest two.
Three-of-a-kind - Three cards with the same number.
Straight - Five cards that all fall in a row, i.e. 2,3,4,5,6. An Ace can be either the low end of a low straight (A,2,3,4,5) or the high end of a high straight (10,J,Q,K,A). Straights do not jump via the Ace so Queen,King,Ace,2,3 does not form a straight.
Flush - Five cards of the same suit, i.e. all hearts, diamonds, clubs, or spades. They can be any number.
Full House - A combination of a three of a kind and a pair. For example, if between your hand and the table you had two Jacks and three Queens then you would have a full house (they would call this example hand "Queens full of Jacks").
Four-of-a-kind - Four cards that all have the same number.
Straight Flush - A straight that is all the same suit.
Royal Flush - An Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10 that are all the same suit.
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THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
(1) The other players can and will try to bluff you out of your money. The easiest way is by making a big raise, especially right after the flop or turn. If you're looking at the cards on the table and you don't feel like they can possibly have something good then it's up to you if you want to call. I've had a game where I had a fairly solid two pair and another player made a huge raise with absolutely nothing. Certain players will likely play a certain way so keep an eye out for their little tricks.
(2) If you have a high pair it's fairly safe to bet big from the start due to the low number of players. Other hands you might look for are "suited connectors" such as a 9 and 10 that are the same suit, giving you a chance at both a straight and a flush. Ace with anything is usually good to bet with but this can be risky if the second card is low. You need to go with your gut...in some cases maybe you want to raise with a low pair and hope that you might pick up a third low card on the flop.
(3) Never fold if you are the big blind and there aren't any raises on the table. Similarly, never fold if everybody has checked up to you. In fact, in both of those cases it might behoove you to raise and see who is really serious about staying in the hand. (I know this sounds like common sense...again, it's for the people who have never played before).
(4) Don't go "all in" (bet all your remaining money) every hand. Eventually someone is going to call you, beat you, and you'll lose all, or a good chunk of, your money. You might get lucky...you might win a lot of money this way...but in the end it's lame. Go play Five Finger Fillet or horseshoes or something if you're going to do that.
(5) Go with what you know and what you know is which cards are on the table, which cards are in your hand, and what is needed to make a hand with what is on the table. If you have an 8 and a 3 in your hand and the flop shows a Queen, a Jack, and a two then chances are you should probably fold (should probably fold with an 8 and 3 anyway, but I'm just saying...).
Go ahead and add anything about Texas Hold'em you want to at this point. Since I mostly focused on how you might play in the real world we probably need more concrete suggestions about how to play in the game. Add away!
I didn't read all of this yet, but I do want to thank you for posting this. Before I play RDR in a bit I'm gonna take a look at this thread and try to follow these Texas Hold'em guidelines and whatever else anyone can and may add to this.
Thanks! I was just about to Google it because I tried playing in the game and had no idea what to do, the game doesn't explain much other than the rules.
"You come at the king, you best not miss." - Omar
Texas Hold'em is a fun game. Ive been playing for years with my friends. Great pass time.
PSN: ZenMind, Gaming since 85.
I love how they take kicker cards into account real authentic.
I... drink... your... milkshake!
Good topic, TC.....
Calling someone else a troll....when YOU have had multiple accounts banned....makes YOU a hypocrite.
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