In 2003 when Chris Moneymaker won the main event at the World Series of Poker the unofficial poker boom was started. The dream of making it big playing a game of cards was right there in front of a television audience and we were hooked. Poker is not a fad, it has become accepted in popular culture and shows no signs of disappearing. Online poker sites have popped up everywhere and poker programming dominates many sports stations. More and more people from all demographics start playing Texas Hold’ em everyday on various poker sites. I am going to show the basics that can help you on your road to the world series of poker.
Hand Rankings – Most of poker games are based on making your best five card hands, and the first thing you need to learn is which hands beat which. The best hand in hold’ em is a royal flush, a royal flush is ace, king, queen, jack and ten all in the same suit. If you get a royal take it easy you are going to win the pot, all you have to do is try to get the most money out of your opponents. After a royal is a straight flush, five suited cards in a row. An example of a straight flush is two, three, four, five and six of spades. The next bast hand is quads, obviously that is four of a kind. Quads is a fantastic hand in hold’ em and you will win the pot almost always. A full house is when you have three of kind and two of a kind in your hand and is the next best hand. An example of a full house is if you three ten’s and two fours, don’t be scared a full house is a great hand and you probably have the best of it. The fourth best hand is a flush, a flush is when you have five cards all of the same suit (eg: 5 hearts). The important thing to remember when playing a flush is that the highest flush will win, for example an ace high flush will beat a king high flush. Straights are five cards in a row, two, three, four, five and six. Aces can go both ways in straights high or low.
A three of a kind is very self explanatory (ex three 10’s, or three fours …). Three of a kind can be a good hand, but watch out for straight and flush cards. If you have a pair of aces and a pair of kings you have two pairs. Any two pairs can lose to a lot of hands and you need to play careful with this hand. The highest pair is the best, for example aces and deuces would beat kings and queens. Having one pair in Texas Hold’ em is common and will win you pots from time to time. Every once in awhile you can also win a pot with a high card, if no player has a pair the highest card will win the pot ( ace high ).
To recap from the best to worst, royal flush, straight flush, quads, full house, flush, straight, three of a kind, two pairs, one pair and high card. You need to learn and understand these rankings to play the game.
Game Structures – When playing Texas Hold’ em you will need to know a few basic structures. The first thing you need to understand is blinds, a blind is a forced bet that is done before each hand begins. The small blind goes to the person to the immediate left of the dealer and the big blind to the left of the small blind. These forced bets are made to insure that there is a pot for every hand that is dealt.
The game of Hold’ em is very simple to play. Every player is dealt two cards face down to start the game. After you get your hole cards around of betting happens, where you can call the big blind, raise or fold. After the round of betting is over three community cards placed face up called the flop followed by another round of betting. A fourth card gets turned up called the turn or fourth street that is once again followed by a round of betting. When that betting is over the final community card is turned up called the river or fifth street, followed by the final betting round. When all the betting is over you turn up your hole cards and declare a winner of the hand. It is important to know that you can raise, fold, check or go all in on any street.
Basic Strategy – No limit Texas Holdem is a strategic game that has a few easy principles. The more you play, the better you will understand these ideas. Pocket pairs (pair in your hole cards eg; 66) are good starting hands and solid hands to play. The best starting hand in poker is pocket aces and the worst is a seven, two off suit. The seven deuce is the worst hand because they cannot be connected via a straight and when they are off suit it will be hard to make a good flush. The dealer acts last on every street and therefore is the best position at the table because you can make a decision depending on what your opponents have done. Feel free to play weaker hands from the dealer button because it is the easiest place at the table to make a bluff from.
Texas Holdem Poker is a great game and I hope you will give it a try. As a beginner you need to know that this information is just a start, becoming good requires a lot of practice. The only way to learn how to play poker well, is to play hands and gain experience with the game. If you are just starting, play for small stakes or for free and work your way up. Have fun and Enjoy.