From very humble beginnings Texas Holdem has now become the most popular form of poker played in the world by far.
It wasn’t even a well known game until the World Series of Poker began, which brought together the top poker players of the day who favored this style of poker. The No Limit Holdem became the premier game at the WSOP, and this has remained the case ever since. There are a lot of different tournaments run at the WSOP, but No Limit Texas Holdem is the big daddy of them. Two other things really influenced the rise of Texas Holdem. The coming of internet poker saw Texas Holdem take over as king, as it was by far the most popular game played online. With the exploding popularity that this brought came much more television coverage, and Texas Holdem was the game that was being played on TV as well, which introduced it to even more people.
Today, Texas Holdem is so popular that when people refer to poker they usually mean Texas Holdem poker. It soundly defeated the former popular games of poker, Stud and Draw Poker. Omaha, another community card game, now sits in second place, but a pretty distant second.
What makes Texas Holdem so popular?
While there is plenty of hype surrounding Texas Holdem, it is much more than hype that makes it so popular. While traditional forms of poker dealt players individual hands, in Texas Holdem each player only gets two cards, with the other 5 cards dealt in the middle of the table, available to all players to use in order to make the best 5 card hand they can.
So what makes Holdem so exciting is that with the community cards involved, it is much more likely that the hands of players will be closer together in strength. This is because they are using a lot of the same cards. Closer hands mean more action and more excitement. This also makes the strategy that you will use more involved and rich, which is why Texas Holdem is called the thinking man’s game. It is very easy to learn, but you can be playing for decades and still see yourself get better at it.
Texas Holdem Hand Rankings
Hand rankings follow normal poker rules, and this is one thing that is consistent among all forms of poker. Hands that are both all the same suit, and are consecutive as well, meaning both a straight and a flush, are the best hand. Next are four of a kind, followed by a full house, which is both three of a kind and a pair, then flushes, straights, three of a kind, two pair, one pair, and finally high card.
|Royal Straight Flush|
|Four of a Kind|
|Three of a Kind|
In all cases, when hands are tied, the higher card wins. So with a straight flush the highest card among them is the better hand, with a full house the higher three of a kind wins, with three of a kind the higher rank is better, as is the case with two and one pair. When two hands are identical and don’t use up all of the 5 cards then the player with the highest card that isn’t used wins, called the kicker.
Texas Holdem Gameplay
Players take turn being the dealer as is customary in poker. Prior to each hand being dealt, the two players to the immediate left of the dealer post the blinds, which is a set amount that these players must put into the pot. The first player to the left posts half the amount of the big blind and the player to his or her left posts the full amount. If there are only two players, called heads up, then the dealer posts the half blind and the other player the full blind.
Two down cards are dealt to each player. This is followed by a round of betting, known as the pre flop round. The player to the left of the big blind starts things off, this is called the under the gun position. The big blind serves as a bet and players can call the big blind, known as limping, put in a raise, or fold. The action continues until it is concluded, which happens when either all players but one have folded, or the highest bet amount has been called by the remaining players.
The next round starts with three cards being dealt in the middle, known as the flop. There are two more rounds after this, known as the turn and the river, together known as the post flop betting. The turn and the river consists of one additional card each being dealt. So a total of 5 cards end up being dealt in the middle, in three rounds, with the final one after the river card concluding the action.
In each of these three post flop betting rounds, the action starts with the player immediately to the left of the dealer. In the pre flop round, the first two players have already put money in the pot so the action starts to the left of them, but in these later rounds they act first.
The betting process is the same as with the pre-flop round, other than with no blinds in play, players can check as well. If you check and there is money put in the pot by another player, then you have the option to call that or raise. Once all the betting concludes, providing there is more than one player left, the hand goes to showdown with the best poker hand taking the pot. If there is a tie, the pot is split among the tied players.
Forms Of Texas Holdem
Texas Holdem may either be played in form of cash games or tournaments. In cash games, the chips represent real money, where in tournaments, players buy in for a certain amount and are given an amount of chips to play with, and you exit the tournament when you lose all of your chips, with the winner being the last player remaining.
With cash games, you will see the stakes listed as two amounts, as in $1/$2, which describe the size of the small and big blind. In tournaments, the blinds start out small and then grow as the tournament progresses.
The game is also set by types of bets that are allowed. Limit Holdem or Fixed Limit prescribes a fixed amount that you can bet. In the pre flop and flop round, bets must be made in the size of the big blind, and there is a maximum of 3 raises, with the first one being double the big blind, then triple it, then finally quadruple the size. During the final two betting rounds, all amounts are doubled, meaning that players bet and raise two times the big blind.
With No Limit Holdem, players can bet and raise in any amount they wish. With pot limit, players may bet or raise according to the current size of the pot. No limit Holdem is by far the most popular these days, although there still is a fair number of limit games being run, but you hardly see pot limit Holdem anymore. However, with Omaha, most of it is run in the pot limit format.
One of the big reasons why No Limit Holdem is so popular is that money can change hands a lot more quickly, and good players can earn more money per hour playing it. You can also lose more per hour as well if you are not careful, which is why it is important to choose your stakes carefully to make sure you can handle the stakes you play.
Holdem is offered in a wide variety of stakes, from the extremely small to the higher amounts. The higher the stakes, the more money you need to play them. You want to make sure that you have enough money to play a given stake fairly comfortably. With tournaments, they differ in the buy in amounts, and once again you need to select buy in amounts that you can handle.
Texas Holdem is an awesome game and perhaps the best part about it is that it only takes minutes to learn but it is so rich and deep that you can play for years and just keep improving. So these are the basics, and the next step is to sit down and get more familiar with it first hand if you have not done so already.