Rules of Texas Hold'em
Texas Hold'em is a variation of seven card stud where players share common cards called "the board." Due to the fact that the starting two card hand is comprised entirely of face-down cards, the obligation to open the betting is rotated clockwise after each hand. This is accomplished with the use of a "dealer button" and "blinds." A dealer button is a round disk with the word dealer written on it.
Blinds are mandatory bets made by the first two players clockwise from the dealer button. The blinds posted in all limit games are in the amounts of 1/2 of the lower limit for the first player (small blind) and the lower limit for the second player (big blind). The blinds in a $10-$20 game would, therefore, be $5 and $10.
The player with the button is theoretically dealing the hand. A casino employee will deal the first card to the player on the immediate left of the dealer button. The obligation to open the pot is rotated around the table. As the button moves, all players receive the same benefits of position. This position element, the order in which players are required to act, has a strong influence on proper play in all games where buttons are used. Obviously, the player with the privilege of betting last has a significant advantage.
Each player receives two cards face-down. The player to the left of the big blind must now call the size of the big blind, raise an amount equal to the size of the bet (the big blind at this time) or fold his hand.
In blind games the money posted for the blinds counts toward the player's bet, and the players posting these blinds have the option to raise even if the big blind has not been raised. An example will clarify this.
The big blind, $10 in a $10-$20 limit game, is called by several players but no one raises. After the player with the button acts the small blind calls for $5 more, he already had $5 in for the small blind. The house dealer would now offer an optionto the big blind who could then raise his own bet even though he had started the action and not been raised. Alternatively, the big blind can check and the hand will proceed.
The next three cards are called the "flop." They are delivered all at once, face-up in the middle of the table and are used by all players. The first player to the left of the button is first to act.
This will hold true for all remaining rounds of betting. The player being first may check or bet the limit, still the smaller limit at this point. Other players may check, fold, call, or raise as appropriate.
The next card is called the "turn." It is delivered face-up next to the first three in the middle of the table. With the turn the betting goes to the higher limit.
The final, or "river" card, also called "fifth street," is now dealt face-up. Together these cards make a five card board. Again, the betting is the higher limit for the game being played.
Once all the betting has been completed and multiple players remain in the round, the hands are shown and the winning hand is established. In Texas Hold'em, players may use any five of the seven cards to form their best poker hand. Players may use two, one, or no cards from their hand. When using no cards from the hand produces the best ranking hand from the seven cards available, that player is said to be "playing the board."
The key concept in Texas Hold'em is improvement. How much your hand improves the board cards determines the quality of your hand. Remember that all players are using the board.
For example, if you hold two fours (4,4) as your starting hand and the flop is three kings, you have flopped a full house. This is, however, not as big a hand as having the same hand in a seven card stud game in the first five cards. You would almost surely have the best hand in the seven card stud game but many hands will beat your hand in Texas Hold'em because of the shared cards aspect of the game.
In the example above, any pair larger than fours in the hole will not only beat your hand, but will also have you nearly drawing dead, having no way to win regardless of the next cards. Here you would need to make four fours to beat your opponent.
A similar situation occurs when the board shows four to a suit and you hold a card of that suit. You have a flush but so would anyone else with a card of the required suit. Here you must be very conscious of the size of your flush. If you have the ace, great! If not, be more cautious.
You are looking for big cards, suited cards close together, and pairs before the flop. Small pairs are not as valuable as in stud. You will need to flop three of a kind to have a competitive hand.
A hand with an ace and a king will win much more money than a small pair in the long run. Flush and straight draws are fine after the flop, but are in danger if the board is paired (e.g., 9,9,4).
Remember the importance of position. The last player to act is a big favorite. Play more hands when you are in this position. Play only premium hands when you are in first position as you have no information about your opponents' hands because they haven't acted yet. You will win many pots that are checked to you, when you are last and are able to make a bet. Be selective with this maneuver, as some opponents like to check-raise.