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Posts : 125
Join date : 2010-05-28
Age : 44
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PostSubject: HOLD'EM - THE BASICS   HOLD'EM - THE BASICS EmptySat May 29, 2010 7:16 pm


Poker is a game of skill and luck, you must learn the basics to improve your skill and with time, hopefully you will learn how to manipulate the luck factor.
There are many different variations of poker, but we're going to look at the most popular form, Texas Hold'em. Even this variation has its subcategories: Heads-up (2 players); Short-handed (3-6 players) and ring games (up to 11 players) all of which employ their own strategies, but at the moment its enough just to know they exist. We will firstly look at No Limit Texas Hold'em (NLHE), then briefly explain some of the differences as compared to the other varieties that come down to betting structures, i.e. Pot-Limit and Limit.

The dealer of a hand is a very important 'position' and therefore moves round one place to the left (clockwise) after each hand is played. If there is a dedicated person whose sole responsibility is dealing and they are not involved in the action, then the position is represented by the 'Dealer Button'. If there is not such a person then the pack of cards are simply passed on to the next person.

The game starts with all players being dealt two cards face-down ('hole cards' or 'pocket cards', only the owner is allowed to look at these), the first person to receive their cards is the player to the immediate left of the dealer. This position is called the 'Small Blind' and is forced to bet half the amount of the player to his immediate left, the 'Big Blind' who is also forced to make a bet, both prior to being dealt their cards, eg Small Blind = 1 chip, Big Blind = 2 chips. This is to insure there is always money in the pot to play for. This forced bet only takes place at the start of the hand, and moves with the 'Button'.

A round of betting follows: Betting is always conducted in a clockwise order, the bets invested in the hand are known as the 'Pot'. The first person to act ('Under The Gun', 'UTG') is the player to the immediate left of the Big Blind. This player has three options..

FOLD: 'Muck' his cards, pass them back to the dealer and take no further part in the hand.
CALL: Put a bet that equals the forced bet of the 'Big Blind' into the pot to stay in the hand.
RAISE: Put a bet into the pot that exceeds the 'Big Blind'. A raise in most rules must be a minimum of the value of the Big Blind. eg: if the Big Blind is 2 chips then the raiser must put in the initial 2 chips plus at least a further two chips. In subsequent rounds of betting or 'streets', the initial bet must be a minimum of the Big Blind and any raises must at least double that of the previous bet, eg Big Blind is 2 chips, a player bets 3 chips so the next player to raise in that round must see the initial bet and raise by at least that amount (3 chips plus at least 3 chips).

The action then moves onto the next player who has the same choices (although a raise would actually be a re-raise i.e. the 'Big Blind's bet plus the initial raise then this player's further raise) and so on round the table until the action gets to the 'Big Blind' who may have an additional option. If in the lead up to his turn, there has not been a raise to his forced bet, then it would be foolish to fold as it does not cost any extra to see the 'Flop', however the Big Blind may CHECK ('check his option'). If there has been a raise during this round, the action will continue round the table, until all players have called or all but one has folded (if there are further raises it goes on and on until the players staying in the hand have all called, or all but one has folded).

Three 'community' cards or 'board' cards (the ‘flop’) are dealt face-up in the middle of the table. At this point all players now have 5 cards to play with (their own two plus the community 3) and a second round of betting takes place, same as before, only now the first person to act is the player still in the hand to the immediate left of the dealer. There are no more forced bets and all players may check if there has been no bets prior to their turn in this round. The dealer ('button') is the last person to act (if he is still in the hand - if not it will be the player next on his right, still in the hand) and has the advantage of seeing what action all other players have taken.

A fourth community card is dealt face-up (the ‘turn’ or 'Fourth Street'), now all the players remaining in the hand have 6 cards to choose their best 5 from and there is a third round of betting.

A fifth community card is dealt face-up (the ‘river’ or 'Fifth Street'). A fourth and final round of betting takes place at this point.

In each round of betting a player may call (whatever current bet is on the table from another player), raise (basically calling the bet on the table and adding at least the minimum to it), check (if there is no additional bet to call you do not have to add anything to the pot to stay in the hand) or fold (mucking your hand and stopping your involvement). These actions are structured and must be played in turn. A player, once it is their turn, will make these decisions at every betting round they remain involved in. If during one the rounds all the players fold bar one, then that player, who would be the last player to act, wins the pot containing all previous bets automatically and does not have to show his hand (which may not of been the actual best hand!).

If more than one player remains in the hand after the final round of betting (post-river) then the hole cards are turned over and the player with the best ranking hand wins ('The Showdown'. It should be borne in mind that the actual best hand wins at this point, even if the player with that hand misread it and declared an inferior hand). The best hand consists of the player's best 5 cards out of the 7 available (5 community cards - available to all players and 2 pocket cards - unique to the owning player), using 1, 2 or none of his 'hole cards'. In the event of more than one player still in the hand having the same best 5 cards e.g a straight, say 10 Jack Queen King Ace then they split the pot.

So... there are two ways of winning the pot/hand... all other players fold OR have the best hand at Showdown.. if you are the last person to act during the first round of betting (your position is referred to as the 'Big Blind') and no other player likes their hole cards and they all fold, then you will win the hand, retaining your forced bet and claiming the forced bet of the player to your right (the 'Small Blind'). The only other time during the hand where you can win by the other players folding, is if you bet and no-one else wants to call or raise... if no-one bets then it would be silly to fold, you can simply 'check'... This gives rise to the notion of giving yourself two chances to win the pot, it betting even with a poor hand (bluffing) to make the others fold, thinking you have the better hand or by making the best hand at Showdown.

In No Limit Hold'em you can during any action, bet or call with all the chips you have left.. this is known as going 'All In' and is what sets this variant out from the others. A player does not have to sit out because he has insufficient chips to match a bet. If the 'All In' player can not cover the previous bet, the excess either, in the case of only one other player in the hand goes back to the other player, or in the case of multiple others, creates a side pot for the other players to also fight for.


The lower the probability of a given hand occurring, the higher the rank, best at the top, worst at the bottom here is the ranking of a 5 card poker hand:

ROYAL FLUSH: A straight from a ten to an ace with all five cards of the same suit. In poker all suits are ranked equally.
STRAIGHT FLUSH: Any straight with all five cards of the same suit.
FOUR OF A KIND: Any four cards of the same rank. If two players share the same Four of a Kind, the bigger fifth card (known as the kicker) decides who wins the pot.
FULL HOUSE: Any three cards of the same rank, plus two cards of another rank. The three of a kind is considered first to define the strength of the hand.
FLUSH: Any five cards of the same suit (not consecutive). The highest card of the five determines the rank of the flush. An Ace high flush being the strongest.
STRAIGHT: Any five consecutive cards of different suits. Aces can count as either a high or a low card.
THREE OF A KIND: Any three cards of the same rank, kicker cards may come into play.
TWO PAIR: Any two cards of the same rank together with another two cards of the same rank. Kickers may play.
ONE PAIR: Any two cards of the same rank. Aces being the best, down to twos.
HIGH CARD: Any hand not in the above-mentioned hands, an ace being the best.


Played as per above, apart from the limits set on the betting, which are agreed prior to play eg $1/$2 etc. There is still the Small ($1) and Big Blind ($2), but in the first two rounds of betting each bet a player makes is the smaller amount ie $1 in a $1/$2 game. In the second two rounds of betting each player's bet is the larger amount ie $2 in a $1/$2 game.

Normally there can only be four bets, in other words three raises in each round (initial bet; raise; re-raise and rereraise), then whoever is calling continues to the following round.

After the 'turn' card of 'forth street' the bets are of the larger amount ($2 in a $1/$2 game) and the same rules apply. Likewise with the 'river' or 'fifth street'.

When all players wishing to stay to the end have called there is the 'Showdown' where the player with the best five cards wins. Alternatively, as per No Limit, if during any round of betting, all players bar the last to act folds, then that player wins the pot uncontested.

If everyone checks or is allin on the final round of betting, then the player who acted first in that round is the first to show their hand. If there has been betting on the final round then the player who initially bet or raised shows their hand first.

This can be a game of draws as in the majority of cases you are getting the correct price to call to hit your 'outs'. But this is not to say you should always chase the cards.


Follows the rules of No Limit, except that the maximum a player can bet or raise is, depending on the house rules, either the amount in the pot after his call is made (eg previous player bets $1 into a $2 pot, making it $3. Next player equals the previous bet of $1, making the pot $4 so can now raise a further $4) or the size of the pot at his turn (eg as per previous example, only the next player can only bet a maximum of $3).

So there you have it, it sounds like quite a lot to take in, but in practice will take you no time at all to get the hang of it. Most online poker rooms have free-play tables which cost you nothing at all to play on. A good place to get used to the action, but do not think they are a reflection of true poker plays and styles... theres so much more to learn and even when you know it all, you don't know the half of it...

Be Lucky....
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