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Poker Basics 04: How to Play No Limit Texas Hold'em

No Limit Hold'em, Limit Hold'em and Pot Limit Hold'em are much the same game. The only difference is the betting structure. For more information about betting structures go here. If you are having difficulties with the poker terminology described below, please visit our glossary.

The following information will provide the rules and the structure of the game. There will be graphics and text to walk you through terminology and step by step play of a round of Texas Hold'em. Once you have developed a feel for the game, the subsequent rounds will be much easier.

The Dealer

 

The Dealer's Button

 

When the table is full, there will be 9 or 10 players. When playing online, these seats are randomly selected by the computer.

A person (or computer when online) does the physical dealing of the cards and is not one of the players. On the table is a small round disc called the button. This button is placed in front of the person who is the theoretical "dealer" to indicate where the dealing should begin. The button will say 'D' on it. See picture above.

After every hand, the button moves clockwise as if each player at the table were getting a turn to deal.

Within the PokerPages' software, the dealer's button is always placed in seat 10 at the start of a game/tournament for the first hand. The small blind will be in seat 1 and the big blind will be in seat 2. Now the game begins.

The Blinds

 

The Blinds

 

Always moving clockwise, the player to the immediate left of the dealer is called the small blind. This player places 1/2 of the structured bet in front of him or her. To the small blind's left is the big blind. This player places one full structured bet in front of him or her.

In our example of No Limit Texas Hold'em, the small blind will post $5. That is 1/2 of the structured bet. The big blind will post $10. That $10 will constitute one full bet.

The small and big blinds are compulsory bets. These two players are in actuality betting their first bet "in the blind." The motive for forcing these players to bet in the blind is to create action. Creating action gets money in the pot. This way no one can play for free (without folding) during the first round of betting.

When the next new hand is played the small blind then moves around to the player who was the big blind in the last hand, and the big blind moves to the player to his left. This movement of the small and big blinds continues throughout the game.

Pocket or Hole Cards

 

Hole Cards

 

No Limit Texas Hold'em uses all 52 cards in the deck. The dealer begins the deal with the small blind. There will be 2 unique cards called Pocket or Hole cards dealt face down to each player. The hole or pocket cards are exclusive to each player. Each player will view these cards and no other player will see the other players 2 cards.

Round One Betting

After the pocket or hole cards are dealt, the first round of betting begins. There are several actions a player who is involved in the hand can take.

The player may CALL the bet by matching the amount of the first bet (the amount of the big blind.) In the example, that would be $10.

The player may RAISE the bet by matching the amount of the first bet and adding an equal amount to it thereby making it 2 bets, or bet his entire stack in no limit hold'em. He may RAISE the bet any amount in between the original bet and all the chips he has.

Finally, the player may FOLD. When a player folds, the action taken is one of passing and the player will not enter the hand by placing any money in the pot. This player will place his cards face down in front of him and the dealer will take them and place them in the discard pile. When online, the player will click on the fold button and his cards will automatically go into the discards.

The first person to start the betting in the first round of Texas Hold'em is the player to the left of the big blind. stated before, the big blind has already made one complete bet.

The first round of betting is complete after every player at the table has acted and placed the same amount in the pot or folded.

The small blind must add the other half of the structured blind in order to call the big blind bet or must call what raises have been made to stay in the hand. The small blind has the option to raise during this time. Otherwise, the small blind must fold.

The big blind will have to call any raises made and has the option at this time to make a raise.

 

Round One Betting

 

In our example, seat 3 and 4 fold. Seat 5 calls $10. Seat 6 folds. Seat 7 raises $25. Seat 8,9, and 10 fold. The small blind folds. The big blind calls the raise of $25 and uses his option to re-raise $25. Seat 5 calls the $50 in raises and seat 7 calls the $25 raise.

During the first round of betting, the big blind will have the OPTION to raise. the action moves around the table and comes back to the big blind, the dealer will ask if they would like to exercise their option to raise. If they do, they may raise. If they do not, they will just check. In a way, they are raising themselves. This OPTION only happens during the first round.

The betting will continue until everyone in the pot has bet the same amount. That means that whenever there is a raise all the players still in the pot must call it, raise it or fold their hand. For example, if seat 5 raises then all the players behind him that want to stay in the pot will have to call the new amount or fold or re-raise.

The Flop

 

The Flop

 

The first round of betting is now complete. The dealer will burn the top card and place it in the discard pile. When playing online, the computer will place three cards in the middle of the table. In live play, the dealer will do it. After every player at the table has acted and placed the same amount in the pot or folded.

These 3 cards are known as the flop. These are the first 3 of 5 community cards (cards accessible to all players to use with their hole cards) to be dealt face up in the middle of the table. These 3 cards may be used by all the players in the game by combining them with the two unique cards held in their own hand to form the best possible hand.

The second round of betting begins with the player to the left of the dealer (the person with button.) This player may CHECK, which is deferring the first action to the next player or choose to bet. This player may bet the minimum amount of the big blind ($10) or he may choose to bet his entire stack or any amount in between.

The second round of betting is complete after every player at the table has acted and placed the same amount in the pot or folded.

 

Betting the Flop

 

In the example, the big blind bets $25. Seat 5 calls $25 and raises $75. Seat 7 calls $100 and re-raises $100. The big blind calls $175. Once the betting is complete, each player will have placed $200 in the pot. See picture above.

The Turn

 

The Turn

 

The second round of betting is now complete.

The dealer will now place a 4th card in the middle of the table next to the flop. This card is known as the turn or 4th street. This round of betting will begin again with the player to the left of the dealer. If this player decides to bet, he may bet the minimum of the big blind ($10) or he may choose to bet his entire stack or any amount in between. Just as with the flop, the turn card may be used by all the players in the game by combining them with the two unique cards held in their own hand, to make the best hand out of 5 cards only.

The third round of betting is complete after every player at the table has acted. They will all have either, checked, placed the same amount in the pot, or folded.

 

The Turn Betting

 

In the example, the big blind checks. Seat 5 checks and seat 7 bets $200. The big blind and seat 5 call the $200. Once the betting is complete, each player will have placed $200 in the pot. See picture above.

The River

 

The River

 

The third round of betting is now complete.

The dealer will now place a 5th card in the middle of the table next to the flop and turn card. This card is known as the river or 5th street. This round of betting will begin again with the player to the left of the dealer. If this player decides to bet, he may bet the minimum of the big blind ($10) or he may choose to bet his entire stack or any amount in between. Just as with the flop and the turn, the river card may be used by all the players in the game by combining them with the two unique cards held in their own hand.

A player may use 5 of the 7 cards to make the best hand possible. It may be the 2 unique cards in his or her hand combined with 3 from the board (table where community cards are located) or 1 unique card combined with 4 from the board or the 5 cards on the board. This is called playing the board.

The fourth round of betting is complete after every player at the table has acted. They will all have either, checked, placed the same amount in the pot, or folded.

 

River Betting

 

In the example, the big blind checks. Seat 5 checks. Seat 7 bets 200. The big blind raises $300 by moving the remainder of his check stack in. This is called moving all-in. Seat 5 folds and seat 7 calls $300. All the remaining players (big blind and seat 7) have placed $500 in the pot. See picture above.

Completion of Hand

The first person left in the hand to reveal his or her cards will be the one that made the last bet during the 4th round of the hand. If no bet was made and all the players checked, then, in order from the left of the dealer to the last player will show his or her hand.

When a player has a better hand, it must be revealed in order to win. If the player elects to throw the cards away because of it being of less value than any other revealed hand, he or she may muck the cards. To muck is to place the cards where they will be discarded.

When a player is sure that he or she is beaten, he or she may or may not elect to show his or her hand. This is because it gives information about what hand he or she held. The dealer will identify who has the best hand and the pot will be given to this player.

Because the hand went to a showdown, the winning player has the right to request to see the losing hand even if the losing player mucks his hand.

 

River Betting

 

In the example, the big blind reveals his hole cards to be the Ace and King of Diamonds giving him the nut straight (sometimes called 'broadway'). Seat 7 turns over a pair of tens giving him a set of tens. The dealer shoves the pot to the big blind because he won. See picture above.

Interesting to note that when a player holds a pair in his hand and makes three of a kind, it is called a set. When a player holds one card and two of the same are on the board, the player has trips. Seat 7 had the option to muck his cards as he had a losing hand (prevent others from seeing his cards).

End of Hand and on to the Next

 

Next Hand

 

All cards are returned to the dealer. The cards are shuffled and/or scrambled in preparation for the next hand. The dealer button is moved one position clockwise, indicating the new dealers position. The blinds are also moved one position clockwise and the blind bets are posted and a new hand begins.

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