History of Hold’em:
Although no one really knows for sure, Robstown, Texas is officially credited as the birthplace of Texas Hold’em in the early 1900’s. It is also thought that professional card players and gamblers spread the game throughout Texas and the western US. In 1967 legendary professional gamblers Crandell Addington, Doyle Brunson and Amarillo Slim introduced the game to Las Vegas. Beginning in 1972, Hold’em has been featured as the main event in the World Series of Poker. Interest has continued to grow in the game, and today it is hard to find a poker website where online Texas Hold’em is not featured as one of the pre-eminent games.
Texas Hold’em Rules:
The rules for internet Texas Hold’em are pretty straight forward, but should be clearly understood before attempting to play the game.
- One player acts as dealer. This position rotates clockwise after each hand, and is also called the button. This position still rotates even when playing with a permanent dealer.
- The two players to the left of the dealer, or button, are called the small and big blinds, respectively. These players must make forced bets before receiving any cards.
- Each player is then dealt two ‘hole’ cards, face down.
- The first betting round now begins with the player to the immediate left of the big blind. The options are folding (giving up their cards), calling (matching the amount of the big blind), or raising. Betting continues clockwise until finished.
- Three community cards are now dealt face up in the center of the table. This is called the ‘flop.’
- The second betting round now begins with the first remaining player to the left of the button and continues clockwise. In addition to calling, betting or folding, players may also check if there is no bet in front of them. Checking is basically passing their turn.
- A fourth community card is now dealt face up, next to the flop. This is called the ‘turn;’ followed by a betting round.
- A fifth community card is dealt in the center of the table, also face up, and called the ‘river.’
- A final betting round commences, once again beginning with the first remaining player to the left of the button and proceeding clockwise.
- If more then one player remains, all must show their cards. This is called the showdown, and the winner is determined by who can make the best five-card poker hand, using either one or both of their hole cards.
How to Play:
Playing Hold’em, especially internet Texas Hold’em is quite simple, but requires a great deal of strategy. In addition to knowing the rank of the hands, it is a great help to have a clear understanding of odds and probability. Especially when playing internet Texas Hold’em, you need to base your decisions on solid logic. One of the most basic ways to evaluate your hand is by counting ‘outs,’ which are cards remaining in the deck that you think would give you the winning hand. By understanding that there are only 52 cards in a standard deck, and knowing how many ‘outs’ you have, a skilled player can get a good estimate of their winning chances. For example, if you have three of a kind, with 7 outs you can calculate your chances of getting either four of a kind or a full house as 15% with one card remaining to be dealt, and 28% with 2 cards left. Then, you can evaluate how much money is in the pot, and what you think it would cost you to stay in to see those cards.
As you can see, Hold’em is a game of odds, probability and high skill. It is certainly exciting and simple enough that a child can play, yet takes years to really master, especially at the higher levels.
Texas Hold’em hands are ranked according to standard poker rules. However, deciding what to play pre-flop is one of the most fundamental beginner questions. Here is a list of the top 10 strongest starting hands:
- Ace-Ace: Will win more than any other hand.
- King-King: Also very strong.
- Queen-Queen: The ladies are also almost always winners.
- Ace-King: Strong, but tricky. Much better if suited.
- Jack-Jack: Wins about 20% of the time.
- Ace-Queen: Second best drawing hand. When suited, another 20% winner.
- King-Queen: Another excellent drawing hand.
- Ace-Jack: Good. Playable even if not suited.
- King-Jack: Suited, wins about 19%; unsuited, around 15%.
- Ace-Ten: A decent hand, but be careful of playing this too strongly early.