Texas Hold'em Rules
Texas Hold'em is the most popular poker variation in the world. Doyle Brunson, the godfather of modern poker, called it "the Cadillac of poker". Most players enter the game of poker via Hold'em, which makes Texas Hold'em rules the first thing and the most essential piece of information to have.
So how to play Texas Hold'em?
Hold'em can be played by between 2 ("Heads Up") and 11 players. The game is won by the player that has assembled the best possible 5-card hand out of two cards that are visible only to that player and/or five visible community cards that all players can use.
The game is divided into 7 main phases
Each player is dealt two cards, but before they are dealt the forced bets must be paid. The forced bets consist of the "Big Blind" and the "Small Blind". The size of the big and small blinds are predetermined, as well as the regular bets. The size of the small blind is half the size of the big blind.
In each round of game the player to the left of the dealer is the small blind and the player to its left is the big blind (the dealer role moves to the left with each hand played).
After the cards have been dealt, players look at their cards and decide whether they wish to raise, call, or fold. What does this means?
Calling is basically placing an amount of chips in the pot equal to the previous bet. In order to stay in the game a player must at least call a bet.
When a player raises he makes a bet that is bigger than the previous bet. This forces the original bettor to call the difference or fold.
Folding means forfeiting your hand and quitting the hand.
After the players see their cards (which are called pocket cards or hole cards) and bet accordingly (starting with the player seated left to the big blind) the pre-flop ends.
The dealer burns a card (sets it aside, out of the game). This is a custom that began in casinos to make sure the dealer doesn’t cheat. The dealer then proceeds to deal 3 cards. Face down, and then turns them all face up – hence the "flop". These cards are the first 3 cards of the final 5 community cards that players use to build their hand, along with their pocket cards.
The first player to make a bet is the small blind, seating left to the dealer.
In this phase the dealer burns a card and then deals a 4th community card face up. Another round of betting takes place, starting with the small blind (same as the Flop).
In the final phase the dealer burns the final card and then deals the River – the 5th community card face up. After the round of betting, all players show their cards. The first to reveal his cards is the last player to bet.
The other players who have yet to reveal their cards may muck their hand. Mucking is basically folding your cards in order to avoid revealing it. The player that reveals the highest ranking hand wins the pot.
Online Poker Tells
When you are playing poker with a group of people face to face, you have lots of ways to identify how players feel about the hand they are holding. You can piece together clues from facial expressions, body language, and even the way they speak or where they are looking, and get a good idea of what they are thinking.
Playing poker online can be much more difficult. You cannot see your opponents, and usually cannot speak to them either. Text chat is not something that conveys emotions very well, so you have to base your decisions on how quickly people act when it is their turn, and their betting patterns.
Remember, however, that the speed of the bet is not always an indicator – a player could be playing several tables at once, which would cause problems with their timing.
If you have your opponents undivided attention then you can often get some idea of their hand from how quickly the play.
A few rules of thumb are:
A pause followed by a check often means they are weak
Often 'thinking' then checking is a ruse – the player is trying to make you think they are strong – they want you to check as well so that they can get a free card. If the opponent really was strong, they would check immediately and then raise.
A pause then a bet can mean they are strong
Similar to the above – the player may want you to think that they are unsure, and are 'thinking' before betting – they probably actually have a strong hand.
An instantaneous bet often means a strong hand
An instantaneous bet – on the turn or river, usually means a strong hand. The players often hope to intimidate you into calling, but don't let yourself fall for such bullying tactic. Consider the position of the player, and what they are responding to when they raise – those who are raising late may have a strong hand, or may just be bullying one of the other players.
A quick check often means a weak hand
Many players will press the check/fold button if they plan to fold their hand to any bet – especially if they are playing more than one table at a time. You can use this to your own advantage in some cases. If you are the last player on the table, the first player checks, and all the others then instantly check, you could probably safely assume that the other players have weak hands, and try a bluff against the first player.
Beware of a check-raise
If a player checks, then raises, the check could have been a bluff to try to get you to bet when he really has a strong hand.
Now that you know some of the common tells, try to avoid giving them off yourself. Try to either vary the speed of your betting, or to always bet at the same speed. Work out a strategy – count a number of seconds before betting, or otherwise mix up your play so that you confuse people who are looking for tells in your game.
Poker Psychology - The Four types of players
To judge the opponent in the right way is very important when playing poker. Observe your opponents and learn to get to know the peculiarities of the various types of play, learn to interpret them properly and learn to deal with them.
There are two different attitudes while playing. The aggressive and the passive type of play.
The aggressive player takes more risks, bets and raises most of the time. The aggressive type of play often leads to an intimidation of the opponents and makes them fold often. When playing against an aggressive player you have to very cautious, because they always try to raise the pot and this can be very expensive at the showdown.
If you face such an opponent you should try to take the initiative on your own and you should raise with a good hand.
The passive player plays in a careful and cautious way. He likes the other players to take the initiative and likes to wait for his chance. He always thinks his opponents could have a good hand. He likes to call and not to raise. The passive player can be judged more easily and he doesn’t like the pot to grow too big.
These two player types can be divided into four types of play. Poker players cannot be said to be only of one of these types, but they often use several of these extreme types of play. Most of the time there is one fundamental type of play.
- Typ 1: The Rock - too Tight
- Typ 2: Calling Stone - loose passive
- Typ 3: Maniac - loose aggressive
- Typ 4: Stone Killer (The Shark) - tight aggressive
Type of play: he plays tight and plays only a few flops. Most of the time he waits for a good starting hand. The rock seldom bluffs. This type of play is good during the first stages of a tournament.
The advantage of this type of play is clear: the more probable it is to win the pot, the more money is put into the pot. Early losses are minimized.
Counter play: It is advised to play carefully when playing against this player type, since he only plays a hand, if he has good cards. Do not call with a weak hand.
Probably such an opponent can be bluffed. This player type is very predictable. He often cannot cope with a big blind, because he does not call too often. If the number of players drops, you can play aggressive against this type of opponent and steal his blinds.
Type of play: plays very loose and wants to see the flop at all costs. He hopes to get the missing card till the end. Therefore he pays too much bets. This player type seldom bluffs and it takes a lot to get him to raise. The type Calling Station is a very popular opponent with advanced poker players.
Counter play: If you have a good hand, you should play aggressive against this opponent. The Calling Station is going to call most bets.
It is not advised to bluff against this opponent, because he calls most of the time. You have to be aware that this player is lucky sometimes and gets a flush or a street.
Type of play: The Maniac plays very loose and always aggressive. This player type is unpredictable. He always raises, no matter what hand he has. The Maniac very often bluffs. This type of play can be successful at a table with few opponents. If there are 10 opponents, there is a player with a good hand most of the time that plays with the Maniac till the end of the hand and then finally beats him.
Counter play: You should not get provoked by such an opponent and you need patience. You can call a good hand of his, if you have a good hand yourself and you can surely play more aggressive than the Maniac.
Use the characteristics of the Maniac against him. Let him bet and call, then raise at the end. Be careful when playing against a Maniac, since his play often has unexpected surprises.
Stone Killer - The Shark
Type of play: The Stone Killer plays very tight-aggressive. Most pro players belong to this player type. They patiently wait for a good hand and then merciless beat the other players. They use the respect they get by playing this type of play and they skillfully bluff.
Counter play: You should only play a hand against these opponents with very good cards. It is very difficult to win against the Stone Killer. You have to have coolness and patience when playing against this player type. At the beginning of tournaments you should try to avoid the Stone Killer.