You’ve seen it on ESPN! You’ve seen on the Travel Channel! Heck, you’ve seen famous celebrities played this game. It’s called Texas Hold’Em Poker. As quote 2-time World Series of Poker winner Doyle Brunson puts it, “It’s the Cadillac of Poker.” This game dates to the old west. Thanks to TV and the Internet, more and more people has caught the poker craze. Not only that, bars and restaurants in the DC area and across the county have free Texas Hold’Em tournaments every week. For those new to the game, I offer some quick advice to help you the 1st time you play Texas Hold’Em.
Some poker games use antes, but most games start with two players to the left of the dealer placing out a predetermined amount of money so there is an initial amount to get things started. These are called blinds. For those not familiar with poker lingo, Blinds are forced bets by the 2 players left of the dealer. The small blinds is half of the amount of the big blinds.
The dealer shuffles up the playing cards. Each player is dealt two cards face down. Then, there is a round of betting starting with the guy to the left of the two who posted the blinds. The amount a player can bet depends on what kind of game it is. If it’s no-limit game, you can bet any amount between the cost of the big blind and the amount of money you have at the table on any betting round. If it’s pot-limit game, you’re limited to any amount between the cost of the big blind and the size of the pot on any betting round. Players can check, raise, or fold the hand they have.
After the betting round ends, the dealer removes the top card of the deck. This is called a burn card. This is done to prevent cheating in the game. The dealer then flips the next three cards on the table. These cards are called the flop. There is another round of betting starting with the player to the left of the dealer. Then, players decides to bet at the pot. Some will bet the pot, if they got a winning hand. Others will bet the pot, even if they got a losing hand.
After the betting concludes, the dealer burns another card and flips one more onto the table. This is called the turn card. After that, more betting is involved in this round. Finally, the dealer removes a card and places a final card on the table. This is called the river. There is one final round of betting starting with the player to the left of the dealer. After that, all of the players remaining in the game begin to reveal their hands. The player who shows the best hand wins! If more than one player has a winning hand, it’s called a split pot.
High Card: Winning a hand with one card higher than your opponents.
Pair(s): Winning a hand with one or 2 pairs on the board.
Sets: 3 of the same cards on the board.
4 of a kind: 4 of the same cards on the board.
Flush: 5 cards with that either share a heart, diamond, shape or club
Straight: consecutive cards in row
Royal Flush: Ace high (10*J*Q*K*A) in consecutive cards (hearts, clubs, spades, diamonds)
The Mistakes to Avoid
No matter how good you are playing poker, mistakes can be made. It happens to the best of them. If you’re not careful, you’ll go from chip leader to short stack in a moment. These are the mistakes you need to avoid.
Poor hand selection: Playing too many cards, often at the wrong time, is the biggest flaw in the losing hold’em players game. There’s a time to be aggressive, and there’s a time to play conservative. Sometimes, you have to wait for a hand to come to you.
Ignorance: Don’t assume that know everything in poker. All the hours of TV and poker books won’t make you a poker expert. Playing it in the card rooms and online games will make you a good player. You can learn from other players to avoid the mistakes they made.
Lack of Bankroll: There’s nothing worse than entering a poker game with a big bankroll and losing it in one game. Before you enter the big games, you have to earn your bankroll through smaller games.
Reading Books: Reading books about poker isn’t the problem. The problem is that people think they know everything from all the books they read. Reading different books is good, but it doesn’t replace experience from actually playing the game online and off line. You should wonder why they put this stuff in their books.
Not Controlling Your Emotions: It’s easy to get emotional in poker, but it can come back and hurt you. Once you’re on tilt, there’s no way you’ll play like your old self during the game. As long as you keep your emotions in check, you’ll be a better poker player.
Playing One Type of Game: To be a good poker player, you got to learn how to play both no-limit and pot limit hold’em. Playing one style will neither help nor improve your game.
Analyzing Losses: Let’s face it! Losing is a part of poker. The best player will talk about the bad beats they experienced. You shouldn’t spend too much time dealing with you’re losing hand. You must learn from it and move on.
Taking the Game Too Seriously: Too many people have taken too seriously. I see this as the biggest cardinal sin in the game. 1st, poker is a game, Nothing more, nothing less. If you can enjoying yourself playing it, you may need to find some other game to play.
Once you understand this basic structure of the game, you can play hold’em and even some of the many hold’em variants out there. Whether it be a casino card room, online or your friendly neighborhood game, the most important thing about Texas Hold’Em is to enjoy the game and shuffle up and deal.