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Whether you are new to the game of Texas Holdem Poker or a more experienced player, this guide not only explains the basic rules of the game and various online variations but also offers up tips that may come in handy.

Texas Holdem Poker is a game of skill, luck and some would say intelligence. Introduced during the 1960’s the game has achieved worldwide popularity thanks to the expansion of the online casino. Played in a similar style to other card games such as Pineapple, Crazy Pineapple, Omaha, and Omaha 8, the main difference between these being the number of cards dealt to each player at the start of each ahand. For example, players receive three cards in Pineapple, whilst in Omaha four cards are dealt.

The basics of Texas Holdem Poker

Requiring a minumum of at least two players, in Texas Holdem Poker each player is dealt two cards face down (also known as hole cards). Starting with the player immediately left of the dealer participants can then choose to Check, Bet or Fold.

If a player decides to Check, they defer their betting rights for the round. Another player may now bet, in which case they can then choose to fold, call the bet or raise, the action of first checking and then raising when an opponent bets is known as check-raise.

To fold is when a player forfeits their hand and drops out from the game. No further bets are required by the folding player and they no longer take part in the game until the next hand is dealt. Folding can be indicated either verbally or by discarding a hand face down into the pile of other discarded cards, called the muck, or occasionally less commonly cards are thrown into the pot.

Three additional cards are then dealt face up in the middle of the table (the flop), after which there is another round of betting. An additional card is then placed on the flop (the turn), again after which another round of betting takes place. One last card in then added to the turn (the river) after which the final round of betting takes place. All players left in the game then attempt to make the strongest Texas Holdem hand they can using their original hole cards and the five cards in the middle of the table. The players with the highest hand wins the pot.

Tip: Don’t always fold if you hand is not strong, continuing to play and bet may convince others players that you are in a better position than you really are and cause them to fold instead (bluffing).

The Betting System

In many poker games, there are mandatory bets called ‘ante’. Ante is a bet that everyone in the game must make in order to stay at the table, players may also choose to fold and immediately drop out the game, losing any money they may have placed. These bets are integral to the game and help create an exciting atmosphere as the risks and reward increase as a game goes on.

Having said that, most Texas Holdem Poker games do not use the ante bet system, instead preferring a blind betting system or blinds as it otherwise known. The blinds are forced bets made by the players to the left of the dealer. The minimum number of blinds per game is usually two (two players), but it can range from none to three. The small blind is placed by the player immediately to the left of the dealer and the big blind is then posted by the next player to the left and so on.

Texas Holdem has two blinds predetermined by the stakes in the specific game. The big blind is twice the size of the small one. When playing in a real casino, a professional dealer will usually rotate a dealer button around the board so that players know whose turn it is to place the small blind. The other players then place the big blind.

Tip: So that that betting doesn’t spiral out of control most online casinos have introduced betting limits in order to limit the pot size. Depending on the casino site being played there are usually three main variations Texas Holdem to be aware of, these being limit holdem, no limit holdem, and pot limit holdem, each coming with their own set of rules and worth familiarising yourself with before playing.

Wild Cards

Texas Holdem Poker does not usually allow the use of wild cards. A wild card is one that can be used to represent any card in the deck as a ‘stand-in’ to help create a winning hand. This can be common practice when playing at home but rarely used in professional casino poker.

Tip: Avoid casinos that allow wild cards in Texas Holdem Poker as this can create an uneven advantage to any one player.

Winning Hands

Winning Hands
The winner of a round of Texas Holdem Poker is the player with the strongest hand, winning combinations being, in order of strongest to weakest:

1. Royal Flush – Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, all the same suit.
2. Straight flush – Five cards in a sequence, all in the same suit.
3. Four of a kind – Four cards of the same rank.
4. Full house – Three of a kind with a pair.
5. Flush – Any five cards of the same suit, but not in a sequence.
6. Straight – Five cards in a sequence, but not of the same suit
7. Three of a kind – Three cards of the same rank.
8. Two pairs – Two sets of two cards of the same rank.
9. A pair – Two cards of the same rank.
10. High card – When no player has made any of the hands above, the highest card wins.

Differences between Online and Traditional Texas Holdem Poker

There are a few minor details that differentiate an online casino game from a game of real casino poker. The first is that online you cannot see your opponents, which means that it is not possible to read their body language. Whilst not essential, this does take away one of the more fun elements of playing face to face and is often used as a strategy by professional poker players when deciding on their next move.

In a traditional game, players use chips in place of cash at the board. Obviously this is not possible online, with players instead making an account deposit and drawing from this. Combined with not being able to see an opponent this creates a different atmosphere when playing.

The other main difference is the availability and variety of the Texas Holdem Poker games online and will vary depending on the casino site. Most online casinos also require players to be verified, registered members before they can play.

Tip: When first starting out, bet low and often until you are both familair and comfortable with the game. This way you will reduce the risk losing all your money straight away and can also develop a playing style that suits you.

It is easy to see why Texas Holdem Poker has developed into one of the most popular cards games online, the simple rules combined with the availability and flexibility in styles of play have made it suitable and fun for both novice and more seasoned players.

Not played before? Then now is the perfect time to give it a Texas whirl.

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