A Guide to Texas Hold’em Poker

Texas Hold’em 2
If you’re planning on a trip to a casino, then you’re best odds at winning money are probably on the game you think you’ll have the worst luck with.

Poker is the most generic term for this classic casino and online game, but Texas Hold’em is truly the most classic variation of poker.

To begin, let’s start off by explaining the ranks of each hand and possible winning combinations.

Poker Hand Rankings

High Card- The lowest of an poker rank, the high card ranges from a deuce to an ace.

One Pair- A pair or two of any card ranging from a deuce to an ace.

Two Pair- Having two pairs of cards from your hand to the flop. Example, two jacks and two aces.

Three of a Kind- Having three of the same cards. Example. three aces.

Straight- A five card sequence. Example 2-3-4-5-6.

Flush- Having five cards of the same suit. Example five clubs, hearts, spades, or diamonds.

Full House- Having two cards that are the same rank and three cards that are the same rank. Example two 3s and three jacks.

Four of a Kind- Having four cards of the same rank

Straight Flush- Having a five card sequence of the same suit. Example 2-3-4-5-6 all of clubs.

Royal Flush- A high ranked straight flush of ten, jack, queen, king, and ace of the same suit.

About the Game

You begin by having two cards given to you, which is referred to as your hand. Players may already have a pair with their hand alone. The highest and most sought after hand are two aces or better known as pocket aces.

Once the hands are drawn, players are asked whether to check, call the blind, bet/raise, and fold. Players are chosen to put in their big and small blinds prior to receiving their hand. Other players must either call the blind, raise the blind, or fold their hand while the player in the big blind has the additional option to check if others have not raised.

A check just means to continue play without betting additioning chips or folding A fold means to be taken out of play for that hand. Players who fold generally do not reveal their hand to other players.

Players may also be required to ante up prior to receiving their hand. The ante is optional and varies depending on the game. In poker tournaments, the blinds and ante generally go up after a certain amount of time has passed.

Once the player checks, calls, or raises, the flop is revealed. The flop is three cards that are shown in the middle of the poker table. Using the cards in your hand, you can determine what rank you have or are awaiting.

At this point in time, you or other players can either check or raise the pot. Players can even re-raise other players for a higher amount. Once this is complete, a fourth card or “turn” card is shown on the table. Again, players weigh their odds at success and can either bet, raise, check, or fold their hand.

Once this is complete, a final card or the “river” card is revealed. Once again, players have the option to bet, call, raise, re-raise, or fold their hand. If a player or players calls your bet, then players must reveal their hands and the winner is the one with the highest ranked hand/flop combination. If the opponent folds at any point in the hand and you win the pot, then you as well as your opponent has the option to either show or not show your/their hand.

Bluffing

One of the most well known parts of poker is bluffing or what some call the “poker face” while playing. The poker face is obviously only relevant when playing with people in person rather than online.

Bluffing is when a player tries to fake out another player by generally raising or betting a high amount of chips in order to cause their opponent to fold what could be the better hand. Bluffing is one of the reasons why there is a disagreement on whether poker is just a game of luck or skill.

Bluffing may be a high risk, high reward move that can cost the bluffer greatly. The best bluffers may have a very low ranked hand, perhaps not even a pair and can outplay an opponent who might have a straight/flush draw or a high pair.

All-In

The all-in option is when a playing literally puts all of their chips on the line during a hand. This move is again a high risk, high reward type play and is commonly associated with bluffing. Those who are trying to bluff may risk going all-in knowing their opponent doesn’t have what it takes to risk a significant amount of chips for one hand.

Is Poker a Game of Luck or Skill

The question is not only one many persons have pondered over, but it is greatly responsible with the legalities of the game, especially online poker.

Since there are laws that make many online poker sites illegal and refute many states from having people play online poker, it is this question that plays a major role in the future of completely legalizing online poker.

Gambling is generally a term used in which you are risking your money through mostly luck. Poker runs that fine line between being a game of luck or being a game of skill.

Many professional poker players strongly believe it’s much more skill then luck because winning at poker mostly has to do with statistics. Players choose which hands to play based on the odds of winning. Poker players will rarely play a weak hand like say a 2-10 due to low odds at winning the pot. Also as mentioned previously, bluffing favors poker being more of a skillful challenge than a lucky one as players could easily win high pots with much weaker hands than their opponent because of bluffing (opponents fold their better hand).

Currently the debate about poker and legality continues, but many agencies are working to make online poker much more legal friendly.

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