Welcome to the best card game in town!
Once you learn to play poker and have mastered the basic concepts of how to play poker you will be having the time of your life. There may be money involved, and winning is important, but most of all poker is fun. No matter how good you get, remember at the end of the day playing poker is fun.
Poker for beginners;
Between 2 and ten players sit at a table. One is the dealer (unless you are in a casino, in which case there will be a dealer provided), on his left is the small blind, and on the small blind’s left is the big blind. These are collectively known as the blinds and must put money in before the deal starts. This is so that there is money in the pot to fight for, and obliges anyone who wants to play their hand to match that amount. Whatever the value of the big blind is, the small blind is generally half. As an added complication, in some games there is an ‘ante’, an amount of chips that every player needs to put in the middle before the deal starts. This inflates the ‘pot’ and changes the game a bit. The ante is usually in the region of 10% of the big blind. . In cash games the blinds stay the same all the time you are playing. In tournaments the blinds, and the antes, increase , often by 50-100% every set period of time, ie 15 minutes for pub games, and 20 or 40 minutes or longer for bigger tournaments.
Once all that is sorted out, the dealer deals out a card face down to each player, going in a clockwise direction starting with the small blind, to include themselves (except in casinos) and then deals a second card to each player. These are called the ‘hole cards’. You need to have an idea of poker winning hands at this point to evaluate your cards and decide what you are going to do. To learn about hand rankings, look here.
We are now in the ‘pre-flop’ stage of the hand, and is the first stage of betting in texas holdem poker. The next action is by the person to the left of the big blind (a position called ‘under the gun (UTG)’) who is the first to decide whether to play their cards or not. They can either equal the chips of the big blind, lets say a value of 100, or raise on that value, a minimum of 100%, ie 200 (and as high as they want) or fold, in which case they pass their cards still face down into the middle of the table. This is call ‘the muck’ and the process is called ‘mucking your cards’. Note. whichever action you are doing it is wise to announce it verbally so everyone knows, ie, Fold (and put your cards in the middle ( or you can also tap your hand on the table twice to signify the fold)), Call (and put the 100 in the middle) or Raise X (and put X chips in the middle).
After the ‘under the gun’ position has acted, the next person clockwise acts, and does the same, either folds, calls or raises. If the under the gun has called, he can raise him if he wants, and if UTG raised, the next player can re-raise to more if he wants, usually a minimum of whatever the value of the previouse raise was (ie if UTG raised by 200 from 100 to 300, the next raise must be a minimum 200 also. And so it goes on around the table, to include the dealer, and then the small blind who must match either the big blind or any bigger bet which has been made on the table. Finally the big blind acts, who either ‘checks’, or raises, or if there has been a raise before him also has the choice of calling, raising or folding. This constitutes the first round of betting in texas holdem poker.
All of this occurs before any community cards have been dealt. If nothing else, the one thing you have to know in poker is the winning hands. To check that out go to poker winning hands.
The next stage is the laying of the community cards, the cards which each player can use to make a winning hand. The dealer places one card face down on the table, and then three cards face up. This is called ‘the flop’. Now the person to the left of the dealer (who was small blind) is the first to act and as there has been no betting before him he can check or bet if he wants to. If he bets, its up to the other players to call, fold or re-raise as they go around.
The Turn and the River;
If there are still players in after this round of betting, another card is laid face down, and one face up. This is called ‘The Turn’. Another round of checking betting and calling or folding ensues. If players remain after this round, one more card is placed face down and the last card face up. This is called ‘The River’.
There are two ways the hand can end now, depending on the final phase of betting in texas holdem poker.
1; One of the players bets enough to make the other players fold. If everyone folds, the final bettor doesnt have to show their hand. So it could be a bluff. To learn more about bluffing, check out poker strategy.
2; A final round of checking, betting, raising and folding occurs. If there is still more than one person left in the hand at this point, and all the betting has finished, either the first person clockwise from the dealer has to show their cards and so on around, OR, if someone has bet, and they were called by one or more people, the initial bettor must show his hand first, and then the others remaining in the hand in a clockwise direction from the bettor. If there is a tie, the pot is split. If someone is certain that they have the best hand, ‘the nuts’, or even probably the best hand, it is good etiquette for them to show their hand quickly on order to move the game on. If they take their time this is regarded as bad form.
After the showdown or end of the hand, the dealer position moves to the left, so the person who was small blind is now the dealer (button position). And that is the simple way of how to play poker.
Dealing in poker;
Here it might be useful to note what to do if you are the dealer, also known as the button, and generally regarded as the best positon in poker with regards to poker strategy. First, you need to shuffle the cards to the best of your ability. Next, and this might be variable according to location so is a general rule, you pass the cards to the right and the person there (called The Cutoff’) cuts the cards, placing the upper half of the cut cards onto a neutral card of the same size, and the bottom cut cards on top of the others. This is so that the dealer cannot rig the cards and so that the bottom card cannot be seen (because of the neutral card hiding the bottom playing card). Then you deal everyone their first card in a clockwise direction back to you, then their second card. Now you wait for checking calling or betting to occur, including your own, then place one card down and three face up, the flop, wait for betting etc again, place one down and one up, the turn, wait for betting etc and then lay a last one down and one up, the river. You should pay attention to what people are doing so you do the right thing at the right time – and so you know how they are betting, but that is part of poker strategy.
Cash games and Tournaments;
There are two main ways of playing texas holdem poker, either cash games or tournaments both of which can be live or online games. Cash games, which can be live (in a casino) or on the internet, or in your garage with mates ( a good place to start), are where turn up with cash which you convert into chips, then sit down and start playing. When you leave the chips you have are turned back into cash, so try and leave with more than you arrived with. In the casino and online you don’t have to deal. Online you don’t have to do much except press buttons to bet or fold or raise. Everything else is done for you. You can search for the best online poker sites available to you. Casino games are similar, but you do have to physically move your chips forward in order to act. Cash games have their own strategy. To find out more check out poker strategy.
In tournaments, as mentioned above, the blinds increase, and in bigger tournaments and most online games there will also be an ante (about 10% of the big blind, which every player has to put in the middle of the table before each hand. This makes winning hands, and more aggressive play (a feature of tournament strategy a feature of this stage of the game) which also increases in the local pub you will have to deal and take a full part in the game. In the casino you don’t have to deal. Its a good idea to practice poker online on free games or play money games so you don’t risk the house and can learn in a safe environment how to play Texas holdem poker. See poker strategy for the best online sites.