Poker takes minutes to learn, but years to master. What, in this most human of games, is so magnetic to some and repellent to others? Poker, a game of derring-do and hard-fought glory, is not forgiving. It’s full of cunning subterfuge and Machiavellian scheming, which would make pale the plans of eager Roman senators, bloodthirsty as they were.
With poker, especially hold’em, all you need to get started are cards and willingness. A small, well-managed bankroll doesn’t hurt either.
Texas Hold’em is played with a standard 52 card deck, focused as much on wagering as on the cards being played. Any younger siblings can attest to this being an unwieldy figure after a third tiring game of 52-pickup.
There can be between 2-10 players at a table. To start, the dealer gives everyone two hole cards (your own personal cards that no-one else should see). There is then four betting rounds (which we’ll outline below), resulting in five cards being dealt face up on the table that every player uses (community cards). You must then use your hole cards and the community cards to make the best five-card hand possible. The goal is simple: accumulate chips, one pot at a time.
While GGPoker endorses the message put forth in the lyrics of Push it to the Limit, we take it a step further; why have limits at all? No Limit Hold’em means that players can bet any amount anytime. Woke early to birds singing? Found a lucky penney? Today might be a blessed day, and there’s nothing to stop you going all-in.
What can I do?
In each betting round, the player has several options:
The player feels they can’t win the hand, so forfeits any chips they have in the pot. They give their hole cards back to the dealer without showing anybody.
If there is no new bet, the player can pass the bet to the next player without betting or folding. But if another player raises before the round of betting is complete, the player will then need to call, re-raise or fold.
The player bets a certain amount based on the strength of his cards (or bluff if they’re feeling adventurous). The bet must be more than the Big Blind.
If a bet has been made before it reaches the player, they can choose to Call to match the bet. If you don’t have enough to match the Bet and you still want to play, you can go “All-In”; but you can only win the amount of chips you have left.
You can choose to bet more than the other bets that have been previously made. It needs to be at least double any previous bets made.
The round of betting made upon receiving your two hole cards, before any community cards are seen.
Once the first three community cards are dealt there’s a second round of betting.You combine your hole cards and these community cards to make the best hand possible.
A fourth card is dealt called “the turn” followed by another round of betting. The additional card can completely alter player’s actions as their hands get stronger or weaker.
A final fifth card is dealt and another round of betting commences. You now need to see what your strongest hand is, and figure out if your competition has a stronger hand, missed a card they were chasing or are bluffing to win the pot.
If two or more players are left after the action ends on the river, you enter The Showdown. This is where the psychology of poker really takes place. You need to figure out if your opponent has a stronger hand or is just bluffing to take the pot. If the hand is a tie, the pot is split evenly.
The player on the left of the small blind. The big blind is the same as the minimum bet size.
The player immediately left of the dealer has to post the small blind.
Each hand has one designated dealer. The dealer position determines the small and big blind positions. The dealer button is passed clockwise after every hand.
In a live situation, the min/max amounts a player can be in for will, like excess light issues, relate to blinds.
Where to play
Go forth and multiply your bankroll. Let the poker tribe increase! Study the above until it’s firm in your head, then check out our blog on simple poker strategies to kickstart your journey toward the Elysian fields of poker paradise.
Hold on tight for Hold’em,
Mike at GGPoker