Whilst Texas Holdem has been around for a number of decades now, the poker variant wasn’t always one of the most popular. Back in the 50’s and 60’s variations of stud were always common favourites and it wasn’t until the turn of millennium before this form of poker really started to take off.
It was the only scene which really gave Texas Holdem the boost it needed. As online poker started to become more popular, Texas Holdem quickly turned into the game of choice for many players, due to the ease in which you could simply start playing. Some would also argue that Chris Moneymaker’s win in the Main Event of the 2003 really started the ball rolling when he won over $2.5 million from just a $40 investment.
As a result, you will find that pretty much all online and even land based casinos are running Texas Holdem games and players for each massively out way those looking to paly other poker games. One of the biggest lures is the fact that you can win a massive amount of money for a very small initial buy in. This is similar to the reason as to why slots are so popular, but the main difference comes in the fact that Holdem has a large skill element to it, unlike a game such as slots.
How to Play Texas Holdem
The object of the game is to make the best five card hand possible using one, both or even none of the your two hole cards and any number of the community cards. Whilst having the best hand will often win, it’s not always the case as it’s possible to bluff your opponents and get them to fold, thus meaning you win the hand.
Games range from anywhere between 2 and 10 players at the table at any one time. At each table will be a dealer button, small blind and big blind. Even if a table has a dedicated dealer, the button will move round every hand in a clockwise direction. The small blind and big blind will be set permanently for cash games, but in tournament play these will increase after either a certain amount of time or a certain number of hands. The small blind pays half the amount of the big blind.
Each player receives two cards face down and the betting will start with the seat to the left of the big blind. At this point a player can opt to call, raise or fold. A call will result in placing the same amount of money in as the big blind, a raise has to be at least twice the big blind and then any amount upwards of that and fold means you will be out of the hand. A round of betting occurs before all players have acted and then the flop is dealt.
The flop are the first three community cards dealt out, face up on the middle of the table. All players can use these community cards to improve their hands. A round of betting occurs once again before the turn is dealt; a single card face up. Another round of betting occurs before the river is dealt; a final community card, again shown face up. The last round of betting takes place before the remaining players in the hand turn their cards over with the highest ranking hand taking the pot.
There are ten different hand combinations all with different levels of value. They are as follows;
- High card
- One pair
- Two pair
- Three of a kind
- Full House
- Four of a kind
- Straight flush
- Royal flush
Tips & Strategies
Texas Holdem is one of the few games that you will play in a casino which requires a substantial amount of skill to win at. Over the years there have been many strategies and theories put in place, but we think that these are some of the most vital.
It’s essential to first get yourself a bankroll and then apply good bankroll management skills. By this we mean to only play at the stakes you can afford to lose at and also only play with a small percentage of your bankroll at any one time. Whilst poker does have a substantial skill element to it, at the end of the day it is still gambling so there will be times where variance is against you and you lose. This is why the bankroll is so important.
Online training aids have revolutionised the world of online poker. There are any amounts of training sites that will give you access to videos from established professionals and offer you ways in which you can improve your game. Now the majority of the better sites will incur some sort of signing on or monthly fee, but this will likely be one of the best investments you make as a poker player. Learning from people who’ve been in your position and successfully moved onto the next level is worth its weight in gold.
Tracking your results is also a massively important part to your poker success. We don’t just mean your bank balance, but the results of every hand you play. You can do this by downloading one of a number of tracking software with programs such as Holdem Manager and Poker Tracker being two of the best. These programs are so much more than simply tracking how much money you have won, but they will delve into areas of your game so deep that its likely you didn’t even know they existed. These sorts of stats are vital to spot leaks in your game and also target areas in which you want to improve. Not only do they track your progress but they will also track how your opponents are playing as well, although admittedly not as in-depth. Having knowledge on a fellow player before you even start playing with them is such an important aspect of any game.
Finally, it’s important for any player starting the game to understand the term variance. What it means is that sometimes, even though the odds are massively stacked in your favour, the cards just simply won’t fall for you. Unless it’s a 100% sure thing that you can’t mathematically lose the hand, eventually that 90% favourite will lose when the money goes in and it may happen more often than not for a prolonged spell. The key to poker success is not so much winning the money, but making sure you make decisions which long term will be profitable and also understand that variance will play a massive part at some point in your poker career.