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texas holdem


How To Play Texas Hold'em

Rather than have each player ante a token amount, hold'em uses "blind" bets posted by the two players immediately to the left of a rotating "dealer button." In poker lingo, the blind bets are referred to simply as "the blinds." Because the button moves one player to the left with each new hand, all players pay their fair share of blinds as it moves clockwise around the table.

A typical hold'em games uses two blinds. The first, or "small blind," is posted immediately to the left of the dealer button. The second, or "big blind," is posted immediately to the left of the small blind. The small blind is generally one-half or one-third the size of the big blind, and the big blind is usually the size of a small bet. For example, in a typical $2$4 hold'em games, the small blind is one dollar and the big blind is two dollars.

You'll find these concepts easier to grasp when you play through the Wilson Software mini-program, "Demo Turbo Hold'em," on the CD. For example, you'll know you have the blinds when the button is just to your right and one or two chips are on the table in front of you before any cards are dealt.

Also notice the community cards: The first three, called the "flop," come after the first betting round, and the fourth and fifth, called the "turn" and "river," respectively, join the flop one at a time in the center of the table after the second and third betting rounds.

We urge you to use the mini-program right after reading this page - or even as you continue reading - since playing actual hands interactively against computer opponents will put your learning curve into orbit as well as allow you to visualize the way the games is played. Don't be concerned at first with which cards to play - that will come later. For the moment, concentrate on the games mechanics and order of play. Later on, you'll be able to play through the program as many times as you wish, understanding more with each pass.

Earlier, we described the blind structure for a typical $2-$4 hold'em. games. Let's assume that betting structure for this discussion:

After the shuffle, two cards are dealt face down to each player and a round of betting begins. Each player - starting with the player just to the left of the two-dollar big blind - may fold, call the big blind, or raise. The player who posted the one-dollar small blind bet has an option to fold, call, or raise - but only after everyone at the table except the big blind has already acted. The player who posted the big blind acts dead last on this first betting round, but may raise his own blind bet if nobody else has, or re-raise if someone has already raised. In most games, a bet and either three or four raises per betting round are permitted.

On subsequent betting rounds, the small blind acts first, followed by the big blind, then the rest of the players still in the hand, moving clockwise around the table. The button player - if still in the hand - acts last. Again, this will be easier to visualize and comprehend hands-on by playing through the CD mini-program mentioned earlier.

If at least two players remain active at the conclusion of the first betting round, three cards, called the flop," are turned up in the center of the table. These are communal cards, to be used by each active player in combination with his or her own two cards. Another round of betting

follows the arrival of the flop. Then a fourth communal card, called the "turn," is dealt. It's followed by a third round of betting, this time in four dollar increments.

Once that round of betting is complete and at least two players are still vying for the pot, a fifth and final communal card, called the "river," is turned up. Then the final round of betting takes place. If at least two players remain at the conclusion of all the betting rounds, there's a showdown to determine the best hand. If you reach this point in an Internet hand, the games programming will automatically award the pot to the winning hand. (We hope it's yours!)

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