How to Play Texas Hold'em
The object of Hold’em is to accumulate money. As in any variation of poker, money is obtained by winning the pot — all the bets made during the course of a hand. There are two ways to win the pot:
• Be the last remaining player — During the play of a hand, players will fold and forfeit their interest in the pot. You win if you are the last remaining player.
• Have the highest ranking hand — If more than one player remains after the last round of betting, there is a showdown. All remaining players show the contents of their hands. If you have the highest-ranking hand, you win the pot.
A HAND IN HOLD’EM
The flop — the first three exposed cards.
The turn — the fourth card.
The river — the fifth and last card.
In Hold’em, cards on the board are community cards — they are used by all the players in forming their hands. Your hand is the best five-card combination possible using your two pocket cards and any of the five community cards. If the best five-card hand consists of the five cards on the board, that is your hand. Your pockets cards only matter if one or both of them improve what is on the board.
STRAIGHT FLUSH — five sequentially ordered cards of the same suit. The value of the highest card determines the value of the straight flush. The highest-ranking hand possible, a royal flush, is A, K, Q, J, 10 (all of the same suit).
FOUR OF A KIND — four cards of the same rank, such as four 9’s or four Aces. In Hold’em, at least one pair must appear on the board for someone to have four of kind. For example: if you are dealt two 9’s, the other two 9’s must appear on the board for you to have four 9’s. You can also have four 9’s if three 9’s appear on the board and you hold the remaining 9. If two pairs are on the board, it is possible for two players to have four of a kind. In this case, the rank of the cards forming the hand determines the rank of the hand (four 9’s beat four 8’s). If all four 9’s appear on the board, then all players have four 9’s as their hand. To win the hand in this circumstance, one of your pocket cards must be higher than anyone else’s pocket card and higher than the fifth card on the board. This illustrates an important concept in Hold’em — the kicker. A kicker is a pocket card that is not part of the combination but decides ties. If the fifth card on the board is higher than anyone’s kicker, all players have the exactly the same hand and the pot is split.
FULL HOUSE —A full house is three of one kind and two of another. For someone to have a full house, at least a pair must appear on the board. There are several card combinations that allow you to have a full house. One is to have a pair of pocket cards that match one card on the board and an unrelated pair also appears. A full house also occurs with two unmatched pocket cards when one matches a pair on the board and the other matches one of the other board cards. For example, you have a two 4’s as pocket cards and the board has 10, 10, 4, J, A. (you have 4’s full with 10’s). Notice that in this case, you could lose to someone holding 10, A. They would have 10’s full with aces. That person could lose to someone with a pair of jacks who would have jacks full with 10’s. When multiple players have full houses, the person with highest three of a kind wins. The pair only comes into play when players have the same three of a kind. Given this board, a person holding A, 10 beats a player hold 10, J. Each player has 10’s full, so the pairs play and the aces beat the jacks. A less common way to have a full house is when three of kind appears on the board and you hold a pair in the pocket. Again, if two or more people hold a pair in the pocket, the highest pair wins.
FLUSH — five cards of the same suit. In Hold’em, at least three suited cards must appear on the board for someone to have a flush. Note that since only five cards appear on the board, it is not possible for two players in the same hand to have flushes in different suits. All flushes will be of the same suit and again, the highest card wins. For example: if three hearts appear on the board, a person holding A, 2 of hearts beats someone holding K, Q of hearts. If four hearts appear on the board a person holding an A of hearts, and a 2 of a different suit beats someone holding any other pair of hearts, since only one card is needed to complete the flush and their one card is the A of hearts. Having an Ace high flush is referred to as having the nut flush. Of course, if the board showed 3, 4, 5, 6 of hearts someone holding a 2 of hearts beats someone holding an Ace since the 2 completes a straight flush.
STRAIGHT — five cards of differing suits in sequential order. The higher the rank of the top card, the higher the straight. The highest possible straight is an Ace high straight (A, K, Q, J, 10) . The lowest possible straight is A, 2, 3, 4, 5 and is often referred to as a bicycle or wheel. At least three of the cards in the straight must come from the board.
THREE OF A KIND — three cards of the same rank, also referred to as trips or a set. You have trips if a pocket pair matches one of the cards on the board, or if one of your pocket cards matches a pair on the board, or if three of kind appears on the board. Note that more than one player can hold three of the same kind. If a pair of aces is on the board, you hold one ace and an opponent holds the other ace, you both have three aces. If three of a kind appears on the board, all players have at least three of a kind.
TWO PAIR — two cards of one rank in combination with two cards of a different rank. This is a very common hand in Hold’em and illustrates a concept discussed earlier — the kicker. Suppose the board shows K, K, 3, 7, 5. You hold J, 3 and another player holds a 10, 3. Both of you have two pair, K’s and 3’s but you win, since your J kicker beats his 10 kicker. As mentioned before, it is possible for the top kicker to appear on the board, in which case the pot is split. Suppose for the same pocket cards the board showed, K, K, 3, 7, A. Both of you have K’s and 3’s with an ace kicker. Your J does not get to play and the pot is split. When comparing hands with two pair, the top pair determines who wins. Which brings us to another important concept in Hold’em — the overcard. Suppose you have K, Q in the pocket and the board comes up K, 3, 3, 5, A. The ace on the board is an overcard to your king. Your hand is two pair, kings and threes but you lose to anyone holding a single ace in the pocket, since they also have two pair (Aces and threes).
ONE PAIR — two cards of the same rank. If you have two pocket cards of the same rank, you have one pair. If two cards of the same rank appear on the board, everyone has at least one pair. Any card you hold that matches at least one card on the board gives you one pair.
HIGH CARD — If none of the combinations described can be formed, the high card wins at showdown. If players share the same high card, the second highest card plays and so on.
SPLIT POTS - Suits are not ranked in poker. If two or more players have the same five card hand at showdown, the money is split between them.
SEEDING THE POT
UNIQUE FEATURES OF TEXAS HOLD’EM
Hold’em is a fixed position game - Position refers to the order in which players act in a round of betting. During a Hold’em hand your position does not change. The small blind always acts first, the big blind second, the player to the left of the blinds next and so on. In stud games position changes as the cards are dealt since the player with the highest exposed cards acts first. Position is important because in all forms of poker it is advantageous to act last in a round of betting. Your position at the start of a hand of Hold’em stays the same for all four rounds of betting, conferring either a permanent advantage or disadvantage.
In Hold’em it is possible to have the nuts - The nuts is the highest possible hand that can be formed with a given set of community cards. For example, if you hold K K and the board has K 10 7 5 2 , you can bet and raise to the maximum, knowing that you cannot be beat. No straights or flushes can be formed from this board, and without a pair neither can a full house or four of a kind. Your three kings are the nuts. Suppose instead with the same hand K K the board has A A K 7 3. Even though you have a much higher hand than in the previous situation, (kings full with aces), you can be beat. Someone holding A K wins with aces full, but that is not the nuts. In this case, the nuts is A A.
Winner takes all - In Hold’em, the highest ranking hand wins the pot. It is not a split-pot game like some variations of poker. Split pots in Hold’em only occur if two or more players have identical high hands at the showdown.
Copyright 2017 Entertainment Avenue, LLC., All Rights Reserved