Texas Holdem – or Hold’em as it is more affectionately known – is one of the most popular poker card games today. One of the main reasons for this is due to televised events such as the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and World Poker Tour (WPT) which have showcased the game superbly over the years.
The history of Texas Holdem is a little mixed; however, it is believed to have originated in Texas in the early 1900’s. But it’s online poker that has really brought the game to life. Companies such as PokerStars and Party Poker have been at the backbone of this and now millions of players around the world play both online and live where massive sums of money can be won – or lost – very quickly.
How To Play Texas Holdem
Whether playing online or in a casino, the format for the game of Texas Holdem will remain the same. The only variations come when players are in tournaments and various factors will change as the tournament progresses.
Each game will have a dealer and players will put up the ante or blinds. There are two blinds, small blind and big blind, with the blinds being set so there is a pot for each hand. For cash games the blinds will remain the same on that table but with tournaments they will increase after a certain period of time. The dealer will then deal all players two cards face down. Players will then decide whether they want to call the blind, raise or fold their hand according to the cards they are dealt.
Once the first round of betting has taken place the dealer will then burn a card (discard the top card in the deck face down so no players see the card) and turn up three cards (the flop) which are the community cards for all players. Each player still in the hand will again elect, based on their hands, whether to fold, bet, call the bet, raise the bet or a player can check. Checking is a free option that player can take to basically say they want to see the next card for free. A player can only check if no players before them have bet. If all players check, they can see another card without putting up more money.
The dealer will then burn another card, and turn up one card (the turn). Players now have their two cards dealt to them face down and four community cards. Another round of betting will occur and players have to decide whether to bet, check, fold, raise or call. The dealer again will burn another card and deal the final community card up (called the river). Players can again check, bet, raise or fold. This is the last card dealt and any player still in the hand has a chance to win the pot.
Once the betting has completed on river the remaining players that are still left in must show their hands to determine the winner. The winner will be the player with the best 5 card hand; this includes either, both or neither of their hole cards, and all or some of the community cards. The combinations they can use are unlimited, but it has to be the best 5 card hand to scoop the pot.
Best Texas Holdem Starting Hands
Texas Holdem is a fairly simple game to learn, but first players must learn what hand beats another hand. The highest hand in poker is the Royal Flush; this hand includes an Ace through to ten all of the same suit. The second highest hand is the straight flush; this also must be all in the same suit but can be 5 cards in order with any combination, so 2,3,4,5,6 or 9,10,J,Q,K. The next highest hand is four of a kind; a player could have all four aces in his hand or all four tens. These four hands are generally thought of as the power hands of poker and they are pretty rare. If you manage to get one of them it’s likely you’re going to scoop the pot.
The best way to obtain hands like ones mentioned above is to play what are called premium starting hands. Premium starting hands are basically hands which represent high value pre flop and are likely to also play well post flop. So we are looking for any pocket pair, any hands from say AT upwards, KT upwards, QJ upwards and JT upwards. The next tiers are your connecting hands such as 56, 67 and 89, those sorts of hands. What really adds value to our connecting hands is if we can get them suited as well. This gives us so many more cards to hit in the deck which is going to improve your hands.
Texas Holdem Poker Tips
Now that we have gone through the basics of how to play the game, it’s worth noting that Texas Holdem actually involves quite a lot of skill. These skills will often take a lot of time and practice to properly hone and it’s not something that will happen overnight. There are a few basic tips or rules of thumb if you’d rather, which you can follow to help that learning curve and essentially make more playing Texas Holdem.
- Play strong starting hands – Many beginners in Texas Holdem often get themselves into trouble post flop when they have decided to play weak starting hands. These hands will represent very little value and even when you do make a pair it’s likely that against any betting resistance your hand may still not be good. Playing junk hands pre flop will cost you a lot more than you make. Playing premium starting hands will be much more profitable in the long run.
- Bet big with big hands – Many players like to trap their opponents with their big hands to try and conceal them but in all honesty – especially at the lowest limits – there is absolutely no need. Opponents will call down very light no matter how much you bet (as long as it’s below the pot) so when we get our big hands we should be betting as much as we feel they will call to try and gain the most money possible.
- Play in position – Where possible you should be looking to play in position. By position we mean on the button or as near to it as possible and trying to avoid playing from the blinds post flop as you will be out of position for the whole hand.
- Stay patient – Poker can be a frustrating game sometimes and the best players have the patience of a saint. It’s important that you wait for your opportunity to try and increase your stack and refrain from forcing the play. Obviously over time you may have to take matters into your own hand if you are getting short, but try and remain calm and play your best hands possible.
- Use tracking software – This is aimed at online players, but if you are serious about improving your game then there are no better programs than tracking software to do so. The information that it stores and processes is staggering and whilst it may be a little overwhelming t first, once you get to grips with it, it will become an integral piece in your improvement as a player. It also will track hands that you have played so you can go and see major hands from a session for you to review
- Get a poker buddy – If you can find a friend or someone wanting to improve at the same rate as you then getting a poker buddy will be a massive resource. Bouncing ideas, concepts and offering up opinions on hands played is a really great way to improve. If this isn’t possible then join one of the many poker forums and start getting active with discussion on strategy and hands that you’ve played previously. Don’t take it to heart if you get a barrage of abuse at first, it’s a learning curve at the end of the day.