Texas Hold'em - Rules & Game Strategy to dominate in Online Poker
Texas Hold’em wasn’t always as popular as it is today. With its origins dating back to the early 1900’s, it’s a game that’s definitely taken the world by storm, especially since the turn of the millennium.
Some major factors in its rise to prominence include the following:
- The introduction of the WSOP and its prestigious “Main Event” in 1970, with Hold’em being the main poker variant that was played.
- Many of these major poker series having their prominent major events (mainly in the format of No-Limit Texas Hold’em) televised and broadcast worldwide. The introduction of the hole-card cam in 1999 also helped make these poker shows more interesting and intriguing to watch for viewers at home.
- Chris Moneymaker, a 28-year-old amateur turning a $40 satellite buy-in into a $2.5 million 1st prize payday at the 2003 WSOP Main Event (re: “The Moneymaker Effect”), proving that just about anyone can win big at poker.
- The rise of the internet and the emergence of online poker around the time of Moneymaker’s big win, allowing many people to learn how to play poker (i.e. primarily in the form they were inspired by – Texas Hold’em) all from the comfort of their own home.
The main “poker boom” came when Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP Main Event in 2003. But things wouldn’t have happened as they did without the WSOP, televised broadcasts, and internet poker all having made some contribution.
The Attraction of Texas Hold’em Poker
The above factors may have helped lead to the exposure of poker to millions of households worldwide for the first time, but what is it that makes Texas Hold’em such a captivating game to learn and play?
There are a few prominent reasons why:
- Easy To Learn: To start, Texas Hold’em is a relatively easy game to learn and follow. After putting in time to memorise the rankings of hands, the rest of the game is repetitive in style,
making it very easy to become accustomed to (betting rounds, flop, turn, river, etc.)
That said, it’s the missing information and different situations contained in each hand that makes this repetitive format so much fun to play!
- “I’m All In”: Specifically for No-Limit Hold’em games, there’s nothing that quite parallels the feeling of declaring yourself all-in at any given moment,
whether you think you have the best hand now, a good drawing hand, or a complete bluff that you’re trying to pull off!
The possibility of getting all your chips in the middle at any point is definitely one of the highlights of the game.
- Bluffing: The major psychological appeal of poker (and indeed Texas Holdem) is bluffing. Whether you're trying to determine if your opponent actually has a good hand,
or you're trying to stay calm and keep your cool when you’re attempting to bluff someone off the pot.
- Anyone Can Win: The “luck factor” is a very intriguing aspect of poker. It’s what makes poker the only game (or “sport”) where amateurs are actually able to win against professionals from time-to-time.
Luck is what allows you to get your chips into the middle with the worst hand and still have potential to win before the river.
Conversely, luck is what can allow the best players to play optimal poker and make every correct decision at every point in every hand,
but run into a bad streak resulting in anything from a losing session to a losing year!
- The Rewards: The rewards in poker can be quite astronomical, especially in tournament poker. As the payout structures are skewed towards the top finishers, you can easily have paydays of anywhere from 10 to 1000 times your buy-in.
Texas Hold’em Poker Rules and Gameplay
Prior to any cards being dealt, the small blind and big blinds (two forced bets) are posted by two players sat to the left of the button. After each hand, these blinds moves clockwise around the table. It’s these blinds (and sometimes small antes from each player, too) that ultimately give reason for players to raise and play hands in the first place. If there were no blinds to fight for, players could just wait for pocket Aces – the best Hold’em starting hand – before choosing to play.
Texas Holdem Essentials
Pre-flop - 1st Betting Round
After the blinds are posted, every player is dealt two hole cards. These cards are kept secret from other players for the entire duration of the hand. One round of betting commences with the player seated to the left of the big blind. At this time, players may either call the value of the big blind, raise, or fold.
Post-flop - 2nd Betting Round
Once this initial betting round is complete, the “flop” is dealt, which consists of 3 community cards that everyone can use to help make the best 5-card poker hand. Another round of betting commences, starting with the first active player to the left of the “button” (who is the player seated to the immediate right of the small blind). At this point, Texas Holdem players may either check (pass) or bet. Players faced with a bet can either call, raise, or fold (in turn).
Post-turn - 3rd Betting Round
Next, the “turn” card is dealt, which is a single community card added to the other community cards already face-up on the table. Another round of betting occurs, with the same play structure as the one for the previous betting round (on the flop).
Post-river - 4th Betting Round
Finally, the “river” card is dealt, which is the 5th and final community card. Players must now determine the strength of their hand, by using any combination of the 5 community cards and their 2 hole cards to make the best 5-card poker hand. A final
round of betting then occurs. If two or more players still remain in the hand, both players reveal their hands and the best hand wins the pot.
From best to worst, hand rankings are as follows (an example is included):
- Royal Flush: Ah-Kh-Qh-Jh-Th
- Straight Flush: 4h-5h-6h-7h-8h
- Four-of-a-Kind: 4c-4s-4d-4h-As
- Full House: Kd-Kc-Ks-7h-7s
- Flush: As-Js-8s-4s-2s
- Straight: 2s-3c-4d-5c-6h
- Three-of-a-Kind: 5h-5d-5c-Ad-Kc
- Two-Pair: As-Ad-9c-9h-2c
- Pair: 9s-9h-Qs-Tc-3d
- High Card: As-Qh-9c-4d-2d
Now you know a little bit about the history of Texas Holdem and how it's played, why not give it a go? But before you do so you might want to have a quick once over of our Texas Holdem Strategy Guide.