Playing Texas Hold'em
Each hand of Texas Hold'em begins with a big blind, a small blind, and a round of betting. After the first round of betting is complete, the dealer then burns a card and puts out three community cards, called the flop, in the center of the board.
Then another round of betting begins, starting with the big blind, or the next player to the left of the dealer button who is still in the hand. The next card the dealer deals, after burning another card, is the turn card, or Fourth Street. And again, another round of betting takes place.
The burn card is the next card on the top of the deck that is moved onto the mucked pile of face-down cards without being shown to anyone. This is done between each round of betting to prevent anyone from being able to determine the next card to be dealt.
Figure 5.1 An example of a full, or ring, Texas Hold'em game (Poker Room.com)
The last card to be dealt on the board is the river card, or Fifth Street, which is the final betting round. After all betting is complete, the site's software will read the hands and award the pot to the best hand. If it is you, you will hear a pleasant chime coming from your computer.
The deal is the same in all Texas Hold'em games. Starting with the small blind, each player is dealt two cards face-down pre-flop. However, when playing online, your two cards will appear face-up on your computer screen for only you to see. You then combine your two cards with the five community cards to make the best five-card hand. This hand can consist of your two hole cards and three of the cards on the board, one hole card and four cards on the board, or just your hole cards. Rarely, the best hand consists of just the cards on the board, also known as playing the board.
When all pre-flop betting has ceased, the dealer will burn a card and deal the three community flop cards out onto the center of the poker table for all players to use with their two hole cards. Then the betting again starts around the table.
A turn card, also called Fourth Street, is then added to the three community cards. Again the betting begins. When all betting has ended, the dealer deals the fifth, and final, community card, also known on the board as the river, or Fifth Street. When all the betting action is over, the best hand will win the pot and the computer software will automatically push the chips to the winner.
Playing the board in Texas Hold'em is when the best five-card hand is on the board and not in any of the players' hands. All live hands will then chop, or split, the pot equally.
The Betting Structure
The Betting Structure The betting structure in Limit Texas Hold'em consists of a fixed bet for each round of betting action. If you are playing in a $4/$8 limit game, the big blind would be $4 and the small blind $2. During pre-flop betting and betting after the flop, the bet is limited to multiples of $4. If no one has raised, the pot will reflect $4 multiplied by the number of players who called to see the flop.
However, if the next player to act wants to raise, then the bet must be, and can only be, raised in $4 increments. Now it will cost the next player $8 to call. Or if he should happen to re-raise, it will now cost everyone $12. As you can see, every raise increases the bet, or action, by an additional $4 per player in the hand.
The blinds are forced bets to ensure that there is money in the pot before the flop in all Texas Hold'em games. The small blind is usually half the amount of the big blind. In a $4/$8 limit Hold'em game this would mean that the big blind must put a $4 blind in the pot, while the small blind initially puts up a $2 blind. If there have been no raises by the time the action gets back around to the blinds, and the big blind checks, then it will only cost the small blind $2 to see the flop. That is, unless the small blind raises, which will then force the action to go around the table again, or until a maximum three raises have been made.
Once everyone has had the opportunity to either fold, call, or raise the pre-flop betting action, it is then time for the dealer to deal three community cards out onto the center of the board, or table.
When playing online poker, you will not see any burning or shuffling of the cards; however, you may hear it, as some sites actually have sounds that you will learn to recognize for these various dealer actions.
Community cards include the three cards dealt in the middle of the board for all the players to use in making their hands, as well as the turn, or Fourth Street, card and the river, or Fifth Street, card.
Starting with the first person in the hand to the left of the button, the second round of action begins with a check or a bet. The betting goes around the table, and should anyone raise, the betting will continue around the table up to a maximum three raises.
Also called Fourth Street, the turn is the fourth card to be dealt alongside the three community flop cards. Once again, each player still in the hand has the opportunity to check, bet, or raise.
A third round of betting then takes place, beginning with the first live player to the left of the button and still in the hand.
What is meant by the term “live player”?
A live player is any player who is still eligible to win all or a portion of the pot. A live player can be all in on Fourth Street but still be eligible for the main pot. A side pot would then be formed for bets made by the remaining players in the hand.
The betting structure doubles on the turn. For example, if you are playing in a $4/$8 game, now the minimum amount you are allowed to bet is $8. However, should a player ahead of you raise, the action would become $16. If this action is re-raised, the bet would become $24. If the pot is re-raised a third and final time, the amount the next player has to call to see the river card is $32. But a player always has the option to fold.
Also known as Fifth Street, the river is the fifth and final card to be dealt on the board. The betting on this round would begin at $8 with the option of three raises, bringing the total cost to see your opponents' hands to $32 should the betting be capped. However, if all but two players fold on the river, there can then be a showdown, and the amount of re-raising depends on the rules of the online or offline site where you are playing. Some places have a cap, or a maximum amount of additional raises, while other card rooms and online sites may allow raising to go on until one of the two opponents is out of chips. And of course, the winner of the hand is awarded the pot.
There is an order to the act of revealing hands after all the betting action on the river is over. It starts with the first player to the left of the button during a hand to act, and then goes around the table clockwise.
When playing in online Texas Hold'em games, the order of the showdown is not an issue, and the software handles this for you. However, when playing in offline games in casino poker rooms and card rooms, and when the dealer does not have control of the game, the order of the show can be an issue. This is because many seasoned players will call you down in the hope that you're bluffing. But if you show first, when they should have, they will quickly muck their cards without exposing their hands. This is particularly true in cases where your opponent holds one or two pairs, or a very low flush or straight, and he quickly thrusts his cards into the muck when he sees that he has lost the hand. And once any cards hit the muck there is no way it can be revealed when playing online, and never should be revealed for any reason when playing in any offline poker games.
When a round of betting has been capped, this means there are no more allowable bets. If a game has a maximum of three raises, then the third raise would be the cap on that round of betting.
However, when playing in offline games, if you were an active player in that hand, you are entitled to see any cards that were folded but did not hit the muck. After an online game all you have to do is click on your “Last Hand” option to bring up a window that shows the results of the last hand and all the active cards that were played during that hand. You can also specify in that same window any previous hands, usually up to the last fifty, to get a report on the active cards that were played during any of those hands.