Texas Hold’em

Overview

Texas hold’em is a poker game played among two to nine players. Players form their best five-card hands among their two downcards and five community cards in the center of the table.

Each hand starts with two blinds. Prior to the deal of each hand, the player to the left of the dealer button puts in the small blind, an amount equal to half the starting limit. The next player to the left puts in the big blind, an amount equal to the starting limit. The house dealer deals two cards face down to each player.

On the first round, called preflop, the betting starts with the player to the left of the big blind and continues clockwise around to the big blind, who acts last on the first round. The betting for the round ends when all bets have been called.

The house dealer then deals three cards to the center of the table. This round is called the flop. These community cards, called the board, become part of each active player’s hand. Betting starts with the first active player to the left of the button.

After flop bets have been called, the house dealer deals one card to the board. This round is called the turn.

After turn bets have been called, the house dealer deals one final card to the board. This round is called the river.

After river bets have been called, if more than one hand remains, there is a showdown and the best of those hands wins the pot. If all players but one have folded, that remaining player wins the pot.

The house dealer moves the dealer button one position clockwise and the next deal begins.

Bay 101 provides house dealers for all games but does not participate in the actual play of the game and has no interest in the outcome of play. No player ever plays against or makes a wager against Bay 101.

Hold'em in Detail

Texas hold’em—or just hold’em, as most players know it—is the best known and most popular form of poker. Hold’em is played among two to nine players.

The hold’em deck consists of 52 cards arranged into four suits, spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs. Unlike bridge and other games, no suit is “worth” more than any other. Each suit consists of 13 cards, ranked, from highest to lowest:

An ace can also rank as the lowest card, but only in a 5-high straight. That is, the hand A-K-Q-J-10 is the highest straight, while the hand 5-4-3-2-A is the lowest straight.

Hold’em Hand Rankings
royal flush A K Q J 10
straight flush J♠ 10♠ 9♠ 8♠ 7♠
four of a kind K♠ 7 7♠ 7 7♣
full house 9♠ 9 9 J J
flush Q♠ 10♠ 7♠ 4♠ 2♠
straight 10♠ 9 8 7♠ 6
three of a kind 7♠ 7 7♣ Q J
two pair A A J J♣ 5♠
one pair 2♠ 2 J 5♣ 3♠
no pair K J 8♠ 6 3♣

 

Play

When a hold’em game initially starts, players draw for high card to determine which player first gets the dealer button. Each hand of hold’em starts with two blinds. The player immediately to the left of the dealer button puts in the small blind, and the player to that player’s left puts in the big blind. The big blind is equal to the size of the smallest bet for the table, and the small blind is half that amount. For example, in a $10-$20 limit game or a $10-$200 spread-limit game, the small blind puts in $5 and the big blind puts in $10.

Each deal, the house dealer distributes, clockwise, two cards, face down, one at a time, to each seated player, starting with the player to the left of the dealer button. These two downcards (or hole cards) are each player’s hand.

On the first round, called preflop, the betting starts with the player to the left of the big blind. Each player in turn has three options:


Play continues clockwise. If the pot has not yet been opened (a bet made), each player in turn has the three preceding options. If the pot has been opened, the player has three options:


Betting proceeds around to the button, who has the same options.

After the button acts, it is the turn of the small blind, who has the same options, with the exception that the small blind has already put half a bet into the pot, so he can enter the pot for half a bet less. (For example, in a $10-$20 limit game, if no one has raised, the small blind can come in for $5.)

The big blind acts last on the first round. If the pot has been raised, the big blind can fold, call, or reraise. Since the big blind has already put a full bet into the pot, she can enter the pot for a bet less. If no one has opened, the big blind wins what is in the pot at the time. If players are in but no one has raised, this is a special case. The big blind has the option of stopping the betting for that round (by not increasing the bet) or raising.

The betting for the round ends when all bets have been called.

The flop

texas_theflop

The house dealer then deals three cards to the center of the table. This round is called the flop. These community cards, which will, if the hand is played out, become five in number, are called the board. They become part of each active player’s hand.

The turn

texas_theturn

The river

texas_theriver

On the flop round, the betting starts with the first active player (anyone who has remained for all the betting of the preflop round) to the left of the button. Players have the same choices as before, with this exception: If no bet has been made, players may elect to make no bet and retain their hands. This is called checking. If a bet has been made and the action comes back around to a player who has checked, the player must then either fold, call that bet, or raise. (Raising after having checked is called check-raising.)

After flop bets have been called, the house dealer deals one card, called the turn, to the board.

After turn bets have been called, the house dealer deals one final card, called the river, to the board.

Betting proceeds exactly the same on the flop and river as on the turn.

After river bets have been called, if more than one hand remains, there is a showdown. Active players turn their downcards up and the best of those hands wins the pot. To determine which hand is best, players use the five best of the combination of their hole cards with the five community cards. A winning hand might use both hole cards, only one hole card, or even none. In this case, the player’s best hand is the five community cards. This is known as playing the board.

If all players but one have folded — that is, thrown their cards in and given up participation — on any round, that remaining player wins the pot and is not required to show his cards.

The house dealer moves the dealer button one position clockwise and the next deal begins.

Betting

Hold’em games at Bay 101have three different betting structures, limit, spread-limit and no-limit.

Limit

Limit betting has two levels. The first two betting rounds in hold’em are at one level; the second two betting rounds are at twice that level. For example, in a $10-$20 game, all bets in the first two rounds proceed in increments of $10. Thus an opening bet of $10 can be called — or raised to $20. A further raise would make the total $30. Bets in the second two rounds proceed in increments of $20. An opening bet of $20 can be called — or raised to $40. A further raise would make the total $60.

One bet and three raises are permitted in any round. When that fourth bet has been made, the pot is capped. (If only two players remain in a pot, there is no cap.)

Spread-Limit

Spread-limit betting is in a range. Every round, any bet or raise may be at the bottom of that range, at the top, or anywhere between. For example, in a $10-$200 game, a bet or raise may be $10, $20, $30, $50, and so on, up to $200. A raise must be at least as large as the previous bet or raise. Thus, a bet of $50 may be raised by $50 or more. Anything less would not be permitted, so a bet of $50 could not be raised by $40; it can be raised by any amount from $50 to $200. The total bet may exceed $200, but the maximum amount for any bet or the amount by which that bet is raised is $200.

In spread-limit games, there is no cap, that is, any number of bets are permitted.

No-Limit

No-limit hold’em is dealt and played just like limit or spread limit hold’em. The only differeince is in the betting.

All In and Side Pots

If a player runs out of chips during the play of a hand, that player is considered all in and is no longer required to put any chips into the pot. Any further betting among remaining players goes into a side pot, of which an all-in player can win no portion. An all-in player can win from any other player only an amount equal to what he has put into the pot, no more. If there is a side pot at the end of a hand and only one other player remains in contention for the side pot, that player’s hand must be shown even though no one has called that player’s last bet. This is to determine who wins the main pot.