Texas Holdem Strategy
Texas Holdem has quickly become the most popular casino poker game online or off. At any time, hundreds of real money Texas Hold'em tables are going at sites like PartyPoker.com, the largest online poker room on the Net. It is currently the game you will see televised in such events as the World Series of Poker and The World Poker Tour. Though Holdem looks and plays very simply, many experts agree that it is the most complex of poker games. Due to its complexity, the game can be kind or harsh to beginners and grizzled old warriors alike. The action is fast an furious, with more players, bets, raises and re-raises than many other typical poker games. Winners win big, losers lose big. These factors are the essence of what makes Texas Holdem so enjoyable, and therefore the King at the Casino.
The following is intended to be a basic introduction to and strategy for playing limit Texas Holdem online. For more in depth articles on this topic, check out our other articles in the General Strategy section, or visit our sister site, MasteringHoldem.com.
The button represents the dealer. In home games, no button is needed, as the cards are passed around the table and each player deals in turn. In the casino and in online poker tables, the dealer is a professional or a computer. Hence, the necessity of a “button”. The button moves clockwise around the table after each hand, and the player “on the button” gets his cards last and bets last in each round. Keeping up with the current location of the button is a huge consideration when determining positional strategy.
Texas Holdem has no ante. To force the action without an ante, Holdem uses blind bets. The first 2 players to the left of the button are forced to put in the blind bets. Typically, the first player puts in the small blind, equal to half of the minimum bet, while the second player puts in the big blind, equal to a full minimum bet. For example, in a game of $10/$20 limits, the small blind would be $5 and the big blind would be $10.
The Deal and Betting Rounds
Starting with the first player to the left of the button, each player is dealt 2 cards, face down, called pocket cards. The first two players to the left of the button posts the blinds, and the first round of betting ensues. The first action after the deal is taken by the player to the left of the big blind. He and subsequent players can choose to call the big blinds bet, fold or raise. In most Texas Holdem games, the blinds are live, which means that in the first round of betting, they get a chance to call, check or raise when the action moves around to them. In this sense, the big blind would be the last player to act after the dealing of the pocket cards.
The flop is 3 cards laid face up in the center of the table. These cards serve as common cards. Another round of betting ensues, with the first remaining player to the left of the button starting the action.
A single card is laid face up, next to the flop, for a total of 4 cards face up. Another betting round occurs, starting with the first player remaining to the left of the button.
A final card is turned face up, bringing the total number of common cards face up on the board to 5. A final round of betting occurs, starting with the first player remaining to the left of the button.
After betting is complete and if more than two players remain, a showdown occurs in which the winner is determined by the best five card hand possible using the 5 common cards and each players' pocket cards. It is entirely possible for the best hand to be completely “on the board,” in which case the remaining players split the pot. It is also possible to have a “tie” in which the players with the same hand strengths split the pot.
After the showdown, the button moves one person clockwise, and the next hand is dealt.