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Holdem - Basics

Texas Holdem starts off with two cards being dealt face down to each player, followed by a round of betting. On the first rounds, players can either call or raise the blind bet, their other option is to fold their hand. Most casinos allow a bet and three or four raises per betting round, with one exception: When only two players contest the pot there is no limit on the number of raises allowed.

When the first round of betting has finished, three communal cards, called the flop, are turned face up in the center of the table. The flop is followed by another round of betting. On this and the following rounds, players may check if no one has bet when it is their turn to act. If there is a bet, players may fold, call, raise, or re-raise.

After the betting has concluded, a fourth communal card – called the turn – is then exposed and another round of betting begins. Then the River (the fifth and final community card) is revealed in the center of the table. The reveal of the River is followed by the last round of betting. The best five-card poker hand using any combination of a player’s two private cards and the five communal cards is the winner.

That’s all there is to the play of the game. Yet within this simplicity lies an elegance and sophistication that makes Texas Holdem the most popular form of poker in the world.

Holdem only looks like Stud; it plays differently

With a total of seven cards, a mixture of face up and face down cards, Holdem bears a resemblance to Seven-Card Stud. But this similarity is only a “tastes like chicken” analogy.

One major difference is that 71 percent of your hand is defined on the flop. As a result, your best values in Holdem are found up front; you get to see 71 percent of your hand for a single round of betting.

Staying in the game for the turn and river demands that you either have a strong hand, a draw to a potentially winning hand, or really good at bluffing thus causing your opponents to fold. Because after the flop there are only two additional cards dealt, and added to the fact that the five communal cards are available to everyone, there are fewer draw-outs in Holdem than in Stud. (A draw out is when your hand is improved when you draw new cards to finish your hand).

Also, because Holdem uses exposed communal cards in the center if the table that combine with two cards in each player’s hand to form the best poker hand, it is more difficult for an opponent to draw-out on you than in Stud poker. For Example, if you were dealt a pair of 5s among the communal cards gives each of you two pairs. But you still have the best hand. Unless one of those 5s helped an opponent complete a straight, the only player helped by that pair of 5s would be an opponent fortunate enough to have another 5 in his hand.

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