Texas Hold'em

texas-holdem-handTexas Hold’em is the most popular game spread in poker rooms across the world. Whether you’re in Vegas or Europe, you will likely find at least one Texas Hold’em Table when visiting a casino.
If you’re unfamiliar with Texas Hold’em, it’s a table game that may be dealt with up to 10 players in a hand. Most poker room tables seat nine players in cash games and add the additional tenth seat for tournaments only.

How to Play Texas Hold’em

In a casino, the game starts with the dealer button placement. One card is then dealt to each player face-up. The highest card determines the dealer button which will be the player who starts out in last position. The cards will then start being dealt to the left of the button.

Posting Blinds

The player to the left of the button is called the small blind. The second player is the big blind. The small blind posts half of the minimum bet, while the big blind posts the full bet. For example, $1/$2 No Limit Hold’em is common in casinos. The small blind posts $1 and the big blind posts $2.

Initial Decision

Once the blinds are established, two cards are dealt to each player. The first player to the left of the big blind must decide whether to call the big blind amount, fold, or raise. This decision moves around the table, with all future players required to call any raise in front of him to stay in the hand. When the action gets to the blinds, the small blind may include the amount already posted as a part of the bet.
For example, if nobody raised, the small blind would owe just $1 in a $1/$2 game. If a player made it $10, the small blind would owe $9 of that as $1 is already in the pot. The big blind has the same decision to make, but if nobody raises, he may raise any amount or simply check.

Flop Dealt

Once all players with cards have called the bets, the dealer will display three cards. This is called a flop. These cards may be used by all players.
The action starts to the first player still in the hand to the left of the button. This player may check, meaning bet nothing and pass the action, or bet. If a player checks, the same action is available to the next player. Once a bet is made, a player must fold, call the amount bet in front of him, or raise.

Turn Dealt

Once the bets are called by all players with cards, one additional card is placed in the center. This is called the turn. The same betting action after the flop is made after the turn is dealt.

River Dealt

Once all players have acted on the turn, a fifth card is placed in the center. This is called the river. The same betting pattern used after the flop and turn is made.

Showdown; Determining the Winner

Once all bets have been made on the river, the winner is determined. The best five-card hand created between the two cards held by the player and five community cards determines the winner. The first player to show after the river is the last one to make a bet or raise. If all players checked during the last betting round, the player to the left of the button shows first. Players that are beaten throw their cards in to the dealer. This is called mucking. Any player that has this hand beaten shows it in order.
If a player bets or raises and no players call at any point in the hand, the bettor/raiser wins the chips in the pot instantly.
After the winner of a hand is determined, the button moves one spot to the left. The blinds also move one spot to the left. The dealer again deals cards to the left of the new dealer button placement.

Different Forms of Texas Hold’em

There are two typical ways of playing Texas Hold’em in a casino. The most popular is no limit. This means that a player may wager every chip in front of him at any time when the action is on him. The other is fixed limit. This is a structured game. In a $2/$4 fixed limit game, the small blind is $1 and the big blind $2. Players may only raise in $2 increments before and after the flop. This goes up to $4 after the flop and river are dealt.
Some online poker rooms deal Pot Limit Texas Hold’em. This means that a player can bet up to any amount already in the pot. Some poker rooms in areas with bet limits will offer spread limit Texas Hold’em. This game is popular in Colorado, Minnesota, and South Dakota. A common game is 2-10, meaning that a player can bet or raise anywhere between $2 and $10 at any time.

Cash Games vs Tournaments

There are two ways to play Texas Hold’em in a casino. Cash games are where players buy in and are given chips equal to that amount. The chips have exact cash value. A player may enter and leave a cash game at any time. There are no time requirements. Chips are paid in cash as soon as a player leaves the table.
In tournaments, players pay a predetermined amount and receive tournament chips that have no cash value. Players only leave the tournament under two conditions. They either lose all of the chips or are the only player with chips left. The latter is declared the winner. Tournaments often pay about 15 percent of the field. Levels will go up after a declared number of minutes.

Texas Hold’em Rake

Casinos cover the costs of running a poker room by collecting rake. The amount in a cash game is usually 10% of the pot up to a certain amount. In Las Vegas, the rake cap is usually $4. In most other cities, it is $5.
California does not allow card clubs to take a percentage of the pot. Instead, California poker rooms take a set amount per hand. A small amount may be taken before and after the flop and more taken on the river. Some larger games will charge patrons a set amount every half hour. Some Las Vegas poker rooms will also charge for time in high limit games.
Tournament rake, often described as an admin fee, is typically a percentage of the prize pool. Smaller tournaments may have 30% of the prize pool go to the house and dealers. Larger ones, like the World Series of Poker, only take about 10% of the prize pool. Most online poker tournaments have a 10% rake.

Texas Hold’em Jackpots

Many poker rooms offer jackpots to poker players. These are funded by a $1 drop. Some poker rooms will pay a high hand bonus. For example, a player making four of a kind or better may get $100. A royal flush may pay $500. Four of a kind jackpots often require a pocket pair, while straight and royal flushes must use both hole cards.
Bad beat jackpots are another way to draw players. These often hit when a player loses a full house of aces full or better. When that happens, the losing hand typically gets 40% of the jackpot. The hand that beat him gets 20%. The rest is divided among the other players at the table. Sometimes players in the entire room will divide this money. Bad beat jackpots usually require both players to use both hole cards.

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