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The rage of casino games: Texas Hold'em poker

In recent years Texas Holdem poker has risen in popularity, because of television's great publicity as well as various poker tournament events in North America, Europe and Australia. Like mahjong, Texas Holdem poker is the new online game that everyone has to play and even housewives in China have to play a few games in their free time.

Texas Holdem Poker is a card game involving between two and ten players. There is a gambling element, but it is not just a gambling game like dice. It is more like mahjong or bridge, where the players conduct battle of wits, using aggression, tactical fight skills, maneuvering & deep thinking at times. Luck plays its part too in this very strong knowledge-based entertainment gambling card game.

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The rules of poker are simple, but to play the game well is far from easy.

A successful holdem poker player must not only master the basic offensive and defensive strategy, but also be able to recognize and read opponents' playing styles and to shift gear and strategy depending on the opponent in order to be consistently victorious.

Texas Hold'em is like a marathon, and whoever has a high level of patience and endurance will win, unlike other casino games depending mostly on luck.

Texas Holdem Poker basic rules of the game

The dealer distributes the cards from a 52 cards deck and is an employee from the casino who cannot participate in the game. To represent the so-called dealer position, a small sign called the "button" rotates clockwise in front of each player after each hand.

In online poker, as there is no need for a dealer to deal cards anyway, this shows as the letter D in front of the player who is currently in the "dealer's position". He will be the last player to act post flop, i.e. at the flop, turn and river (the three post flop streets, or betting rounds).

The two players to the left of the dealer are the small blind and the big blind. These two players must make a compulsory bet before the cards are distributed. This is to ensure that there are always some chips on the table in order to generate some betting action to get them.

The big blind usually has to make a fixed bet twice as big as the small blind. The size of this bet characterizes the stakes played at a given table. So in a $1/$2 no-limit texas holdem poker game, the big blind is two dollars. A standard stack size is 100 big blinds (BB), or $200.

After the blinds are paid, each player gets two cards, called hole cards. Each player's hole cards are only known to that player and should not be shown.

The pre flop betting

Once the hole cards are distributed, the pre flop betting starts from the player at the left of the big blind, who is in the so-called "under the gun" position. The possible actions are to limp, check, call, bet, raise, reraise or fold.

Folding refers to a player feeling that his hole cards are poor, thereby giving up his hand. What type of cards should be discarded will be discussed later. Calling means to match the bet size that was made earlier by another player, indicating a hand strong enough to participate.

Limping is the special case when no one has raised yet pre flop and if suffices to pay one big blind to call. Checking is for the big blind who has already made a bet, so he does not need to add chips to stay in the hand unless someone has raised.

Raising means both to call and increase an earlier bet, requiring other players to add more chips if they want to stay in the hand. Reraising is for a very strong hand and it means to raise after someone has already raised.

The betting round takes place clockwise until everyone has finalized his bet.

The flop, turn and river

After the first round of betting, three cards are put in the middle of the table, face up. These are the community cards. Each player uses his own hole cards in combination with these board cards in order to make his hand (in poker, hands are made of 5 cards).

Betting takes place like pre flop, but this time (and also at later streets) it starts with the small blind. A player can check if he does not want to bet and if no one has bet yet, otherwise he must call or raise in order to stay in the hand.

The players behind can choose to fold, call, raise or reraise as before. Such decisions depend not just on the strength of their hand, but also on the chance of improvement as two more cards will be added to the board, possibly giving them big hands if they are on a "draw", i.e. if they need additional cards to complete a straight or a flush.

When all players have completed their bets, starts the next betting round called the "turn", unless someone has already won the hand. This happens when all players fold to a bet and there will be no showdown, meaning the winner is not obliged to reveal his hand when every other player has folded.

At the turn one more card is added to the board, so that each player can pick the best combination using his hole cards and the 4 community cards to make a 5 cards hand. Another round of betting ensues.

If more than one player is left after the turn betting, the next step is the "river" where a fifth and final card called the "river card" is added to the board cards and the last round of betting occurs.

Now players know for sure their hand as all cards have come. The betting takes place as before. If some players are left after the betting, they each show their hole cards and the winner is the one with the strongest hand. Ties happen, but rarely.

Henceforth there are two ways to win at Texas Holdem poker, either by showing the best hand, or by forcing all opponents to fold. This is why aggressive players usually prevail.

Texas Hold'em poker exists in three formats: fixed limit, pot-limit and no-limit. This represents the allowed bet size, where there is no size constraint in "no-limit" whereas in "fixed limit" bets can only reach a few multiples of the big blind.

Online holdem poker is exhilarating due to the constant adrenaline rush, try it for yourself.

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