Hold’em - A quick look
The Texas Hold’em is the most popular version of the game of poker played around the world. If you're just starting out, Hold'em is the game to learn.
Play in Texas Hold’em goes through four sequential rounds of betting: pre-flop, on the flop, the turn and the river. Each of these rounds is described below in a separate section.
To start the hand, the deck is shuffled, the blinds are posted and each player is dealt two cards face down, his hole cards. There is a round of betting that is limited to one bet and three raises (in limit games).
When this first round of betting action is complete the dealer will place three cards face up on the table. These three cards are called the flop. All cards dealt face-up on the table are community cards. That is they "belong" to all players and may be used by any player in any combination with his hole cards to make his best possible poker hand.
The flop is followed by another round of betting. In limit games this second round of betting is the last round at the lower limit. After this round all bets and raises will be at the higher limit.
After this on the flop action is complete the dealer will place a fourth card, face-up, on the table. This is the turn card and is another community card that any player may combine in any way. After the turn card is dealt there is a third round of betting. This third round of betting is at the higher limit in limit games. When the action on the turn is complete the last card, the river card, is dealt face-up on the board.
After the deal of the river card, the fourth and last round of betting begins. As with the other round this round is limited to one bet and three raises. When the action is complete, the pot is awarded to the best hand.
Once the pot is awarded, the dealer button is moved one position in a clockwise direction, the blinds are posted and another hand begins.
The betting. When it is said that the action is to a certain player it means it is his turn to act. He may bet, check, raise or fold.
A ray of light that points to the player who is next to act.
Bet, Check, Raise, Fold
As the action for a particular round begins each player in turn has the option to fold which is to throw his hand away and sit out the current hand, check, that is pass the action without putting money in the pot, or to bet. The first person to put money in the pot on any given round of betting is the bettor. After this first bet is made subsequent players have three choices; call (put an amount that matches the bet into the pot), raise (put an amount that is equal to twice the bet into the pot) or fold (when a player folds he surrenders his cards and removes himself from contention for the pot). After a raise has been made subsequent players also have three choices; call the raise, re-raise or fold.
These are forced bets that begin the action. In Hold'em there are two blinds. The Little Blind in placed by the player to the left of the dealer button and is half the amount of the Big Blind.
After the first round of betting the dealer places three cards on the board face-up. These three cards are community cards and are called the flop.
These are the cards that are dealt face-up on the board. They may be used in any amount in any player’s hand to make his best poker hand. Click here to see a complete list and ranking of all recognized Hold'em poker hands.
In Hold’em there is a button that rotates around the table in a clockwise direction. Cards are dealt in a clockwise direction starting with the player to the immediate left of the dealer button. After the hand is completed and the pot awarded, the dealer moves the Dealer Button to the player to the immediate left of the player who just had it. This is done, because there is an advantage to having to act last and so each player gets his fair share of early, late and middle positions.
Where all the bets and raises are collected. This is the pile of chips in the center of the table. Players are in the game to win the pot.
The turn card is the 4th community card and is placed on the table after the betting on the flop is complete. The betting on the turn is the third round of betting and at twice the stakes of the first two rounds.
The last round of betting and the last, 5th, community card. When the river card is placed on the board, the dealing is done. When the betting on the river is complete, the hand is over and the pot is awarded.
In the text and graphics below you will see a clear demonstration of the look of the table and the conduct of play for each of the four rounds of betting in a typical limit Hold'em game.
Hold’em - A quick demonstration
In Texas Hold’em there is an advantage in having a late position at the table. The advantage is that players in late position get to act after players in earlier positions and thus have information about the other players’ intentions. Because of this advantage the cards are dealt and action begins from a dealer button that rotates around the table in a clockwise direction. This rotation takes the blinds, early, middle and late position to all players equally.
For each hand of Texas Hold’em; the cards are shuffled, the dealer button is placed, the blinds are posted and two cards are dealt facedown to every active player at the table beginIng with the first player in a clockwise (to the left) direction from the dealer button. These two cards are each player’s hole or private cards.
After the cards are dealt, the pre-flop betting action begins. On this round and this round only, the betting begins with the first player to the left (clockwise) from the big blind. On all subsequent rounds the action begins with the first player to the left of the dealer button.
In limit Hold’em the big blind is equal to a small bet. The small blind is half of the big blind. In the game pictured above the stakes are 3€/6€. The big blind is 6€, which is equal to a small bet and the small blind is 3€, which is equal to half of the big blind.
In the pre-flop graphic above Nadia holds the dealer button. The player David posted the little blind and Abigail posted the big blind.
From our pre-flop graphic you can see that the player Alessio was the first to act and has folded his cards - the player has no cards in front of him.
The next player has elected to call the big blind and our player, Kelly, with a powerful ace-king in the hole has raised the big blind. The action pointer indicates that the player Gilbert is next to act. This player may call the raise, re-raise the raise or fold his cards.
When this round of betting is complete the dealer will place the three cards that are the flop, face-up, on the board and the action on the flop will begin.
The most common mistake in Hold’em is to play too many hands pre-flop. Be very selective in the hands you play before the flop. Good players throw away/fold far more hands than they play.
In Texas Hold’em, five community cards are placed on the board face-up. The first three of those cards are called the flop and are placed on the board as soon as the pre-flop betting is complete. Community cards are cards that each and every player at the table may combine with his hole cards to make his best possible 5-card poker hand.On the Flop Tip for Beginners:
In this example, Kelly has flopped a set of 7s and should definitely continue with the hand. If the flop doesn’t match your hole cards in any way and you don’t have a very high pair in the hole, then you should fold. On the flop you have 5 of a possible seven cards and without a strong hand or a strong draw it is unwise to continue to put money into the pot. In limit games the stakes double on the turn. The game shown is a 3€/6€ game so all bets and raises on the turn and river will be for 6€.
When the betting action on the turn is complete the river card, the final card, is placed on the board and the last round of betting begins.
In this particular game, you might note that the player next to the dealer has elected to take a break and sit out. At any time any player may elect to sit out and take a short break. Players are allowed to be away from the table for the time it takes to deal 3 hands, usually about 5 minutes. Should a player stay away longer he is removed from the table and the value of his chips is returned to his account.
In all cash games a small fee called the "Rake" is collected, which is usually 5% of the total bets, with a maximal of 5 Euros per game. However, the percentage and amount of rake can be a slightly higher or lower depending on the table you are playing at. The rake begins from the flop.
The action pointer shows that player Kelly is next to act. She may fold her cards, check the action or bet 6€. With 3 9’s she will most probably bet 66€.
On the turn, bets will have doubled and players need a very strong reason to continue in the hand. With only 1 more card to come, knowledge of pot-odds, implied-odds and what constitutes an overlay will help you know whether or not or how to continue in the hand.
The last card, the river card, the seven of hearts has been dealt and the last round of betting is about to begin.
There are three players left in the game shown above. The player David has elected to check and now the action is up to Kelly. Kelly has top pair with a pair of queens and a very respectable kicker so she will most probably bet.
With very big pots on the river, players often have the pot odds that can justify a value bet or call or even a pure bluff.
Be very selective in the hands you play.
Learn to estimate and use pot-odds, implied-odds and overlays.
Top poker pros agree that good poker manners make good poker sense, make the game more enjoyable and can add to your poker bottom line. Professional players know that to anger or offend other players can sometimes cause an otherwise very loose player to play more conservatively, a bad player to play better and when the game flow is adversely affected he sees fewer hands/opportunities per hour.