Texas Hold’em Basics: Here’s the Deal
Texas Hold’em poker takes five minutes to learn but a lifetime to master — so says traditional thinking. From the outset, it appears simple: After the four rounds of betting are complete, each player forms the best possible five-card hand by selecting three cards from the five “shared” community cards and his or her two hidden “hole” cards.
Granted, there’s a little more to the game than that.
First, we determine whose deal it is (it’s the player left of the last dealer), and award that person the white round plastic “dealer’s button.” Then the person to the left of the button posts the “small blind” required bet and the person two to the left of the button posts the “big blind,” which is almost always set at double the amount of the small blind. (By the way, blind size determines the betting level of the game.)
The dealer now deals two cards face down to each player (starting by dealing the first card to the small blind) and then the first round of betting begins. The player to the left of the big blind acts on his hand first (he may fold, call, or raise). When the action for that round is complete, the dealer pulls in the bets and blinds to begin forming the “pot,” and deals three shared community cards face up. These are called the “flop.”
Now the second round of betting begins. The wagering begins with the first active player to the left of the button (who may check or bet). When the second round of betting is complete, the dealer deals “the turn” or “fourth street” — the fourth community card — face up. Now the third round of betting begins, and when that’s completed, the fifth and final community card, called “the river” or “fifth street,” is dealt face up. Finally, we have the fourth and last round of betting, and when that is complete, the dealer awards the pot to the best five-card poker hand.
In Hold’em you can use one, both or neither of your hole cards, in combination with the community cards, to make the best-possible hand.
To get a better feeling for the game, just download software from any poker site (such UltimateBet.com) for free, play for fun at that site, or simply observe as others play online, and absorb the sheer simplicity and fascinating subtleties of the game. Or watch a televised Hold’em event, and after a few minutes you’ll see how easy it is to play.
For some, mastering Hold’em won’t take a whole lifetime, especially with all of the excellent books, DVDs and classes out there. Check out PhilHellmuth.com for more about these learning tools. Some of you will have a steeper learning curve than others, and a few may actually become poker legends in short order.
RAISE OR FOLD
The small blind is posted:
a) before the dealer deals everyone two cards face down
b) to the left of the button
c) to the right of the big blind
Answer: all of the above