Texas hold´em or simply “hold´em” is the most popular poker game at the moment. On television shows such as “Late Night Poker”, the players are usually playing a hold´em tournament. Moreover, the Main Event at the World Series of Poker™ is a hold´em event. So if you have any aspirations of becoming a world champion, you will need to master this form of poker. Hold´em is a relatively straight forward game, as the old adage goes: a few minutes to learn, a lifetime to master. There are four parts to a hold´em hand: pre-flop, flop, turn and river.
After the dealer button is moved into place and the blinds are posted, each player is dealt two cards face down. These are called “hole cards”. You cannot see anyone else’s hole cards and they cannot see yours. The player sitting to the immediate left of the big blind acts first, this player may either: fold, call or raise. To call, this player simply needs to put an amount equal to the big blind into the pot. The “action” moves around the table in a clockwise direction until every player has acted. After this round of betting is concluded, the flop is dealt.
When the flop is dealt, three cards are dealt face-up in the middle of the table. Every individual player uses their two hole cards in combination with the three cards of the flop to make a five-card poker hand. As such, all cards dealt in the middle are called community cards because every player uses them to make their best possible five-card poker hand. Another round of betting occurs and then the turn is dealt.
The dealer will deal the fourth face-up card, which is called the “turn.” At this stage, each player has two hole cards and four community cards to use. These six cards (community cards and hole cards) can be used to make the best possible five-card combination. This may involve either:
- combining the hole cards with three of the four community cards; or
- combining one hole card with all four community cards
to make the best five-card hand. Another round of betting occurs and then the river is dealt.
The dealer will deal one final face-up community card, known as the river. Another round of betting occurs and then the players who are still contending for the pot will “showdown” their hand, which means that they display their hole cards face up so that the winning hand can be determined. On the river, each player can use their two hole cards and the five community cards in any combination to make the best five-card hand. This may involve either:
- combining two hole cards with any three of the five community cards; or
- combining one hole cards with any four of the five community cards; or
- not using any hole cards and simply using all five community cards
to make the best five-card hand.
A small note in relation to the showdown. In casinos, amateur players frequently make the mistake of folding the winning hand on a showdown simply because they have difficulty realising that they have the best hand. If you accidentally fold the winning hand at the showdown in a casino, you will lose the pot as the dealer will not roll over your cards for you. Therefore, when in doubt, roll your cards over and let the dealer determine whether you have the winning hand. There is nothing to be embarrassed about if you turn over the losing hand. But if you fold the winning hand face down at the showdown, the dealer cannot help you. In online poker, you are assisted by the online poker room. If you stay in the game until the showdown, the winner will automatically be determined for you, so there is no possibility of accidentally folding the winning hand.