Official Card Game Rules: Texas Hold Em

This is the basic structure of Texas Hold em poker, including rules and terms associated with the game.

Texas Hold em has become the most popular form of casino poker. Popularized by the televised World Poker Tour and the advent of online play, anyone from the novice to the expert can cash in on the excitement of the game known as the "Cadillac of poker".

Texas Hold Em is very easy to learn but the strategies can take years to master. It requires practice and diligence to become an expert of the game, and even then a lot of luck can go a long way.

Texas Hold Em consists of two down cards, or "hole cards" for each player, and five "community cards" placed face up on the poker table. The object is to make the best five card poker hand from any combination of your two down cards and the five community cards.

Play begins by high carding for the button, or dealer spot. Each player is dealt one card face up. The player with the highest card is considered the dealer. This does not mean that this player actually deals the cards but determines where the deal will start and determines the placement of the "blinds". Blinds are forced bets that the two players to the left of the dealer button must make before any cards are dealt to begin play. The player to the immediate left of the dealer button is called the small blind and puts half the amount of the pre determined high bet. The second player to the left of the dealer is the big blind and puts in the full amount of the high bet. For example, if a tournament or games starts with $10 and $20 blinds, the small blind puts in $10 and the big blind must put in $20. This ensures action on every hand and money in every pot. Once the blinds are posted, each player is dealt their two down cards. A round of betting begins with the player to the left of the big blind. Each player has the option to call the amount of the big blind ($20 as in example), raise the bet, or fold their cards and sit out the hand. Because the players in the blinds already have money in the pot, they must only match the bet if it has been raised or fold their cards. If no one has raised the bet, the small blind is only required to put in another $10 and the big blind has the option to "check". This means they do not have to put in any more money to see the first three community cards. These first three cards are called the "flop". Once the dealer has dealt the flop face up on the board, another round of betting occurs. Players again place bets, call bets or fold their cards. Once betting is complete, the fourth card, or the "turn", is dealt. Again, a round of betting takes place and then the last card, or "river" is dealt. This is the last card dealt. All remaining players in the hand make one more bet on their hands, cards are revealed and the best hand wins. The dealer button is then moved to the next player to the left, blinds are posted and play begins again.

There are three different types of Texas Hold em:

1. Limit - In Limit Hold Em the bets are restricted to a predetermined amount. This usually means the bet can only be raised three times. Any other players may only call this amount and no more.

2. Pot Limit- This type allows the player to bet the size of the pot at any time.

3. No Limit- No Limit means exactly that. A player can bet any amount at any time, including all of the money they hold.

There are many ways to learn and practice Texas Hold Em. Numerous books have been written on the game by professional players and there are hundreds of websites devoted to the game and include rules, strategies and tips for playing. Also online poker rooms have many limits from .25 and .50 tables to $50 and $100 tables and tournaments. Most also offer play money for players to learn the game without investing or losing any money. Texas Hold Em can be fun and profitable but it can also be a brutal experience for those not prepared to play at higher levels. Novice players should learn the game and strategies thoroughly before attempting high dollar amounts or playing very experienced players.

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