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how to play 7 card texas hold'em poker

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Texas Hold'em Poker

7 card Texas Hold'em Poker is one of the most popular variations of table poker available online - if not the most popular. Its the game played on TV shows such as Channel Four's Late Night Poker and the main game played during the World Poker Tour. Its also the game played at Binions every year for the multi-million dollar World Series of Poker.

The Game

The basic game of Texas Hold'em is fairly simple. Its complexity lies in the multitude of ways a player 'reads' other players at the table and takes that knowledge to form a decision on the next move.

Each player receives 2 cards from the dealer. Five cards, known as the 'community cards' are laid open on the table during which a series of betting rounds occur. The winner is the player who can put together the best 5-card hand from the 7 available cards according to standard poker hand rankings (see the rankings chart here).

Each game is split into four individual betting rounds. Two initial cards are dealt to each player. Known as the 'pocket cards', the player makes the first decision as to whether they have good enough cards to continue or use as a bluff, or simply to 'fold' their hand. At this point, the first round of betting takes place.

Betting always happens clockwise around the table. In an online poker room, the first person able to make a bet is the player sitting to the left of the dealer - represented by a 'button'. The player with the 'button' is often seen to be in the strongest position since they have the ability to see all the players actions before getting to bet themselves. To equal things out, the 'button' moves around the table.

The first player to bet has 3 choices - to BET, FOLD (ie to surrender the hand) or CHECK (passing the opportunity to the next player). After this first bet, the remaining players have the chance to RAISE, FOLD or CALL - matching the previous players bet. Once all the players have made their decision at least once and either folded or contributed the same amount to the POT (the betting money in the middle of the table), the betting round is over. In each betting round there are the maximum of three raises.

The second round of betting is known as the 'flop' - whereby 3 of the community cards are dealt. Naturally at this point, much more is known about the potential of the player's hand against the other players and whether to continue betting.

After this betting round is over, the fourth card, know as the 'turn' is dealt.

Another betting round follows until the fifth and final community card, known as the 'river', is dealt.

When the final betting round has taken place, the players reveal their cards and the winner is made known.

Beginning the game with the Blinds

In order to ensure there is money in the pot for each game of Texas Hold'em, the 2 players on the left of the dealer each place a mandatory bet known as BLINDS (since no player at this point has seen their cards). One player places a SMALL BLIND or half the table minimum whilst the second player bets the full minimum - the BIG BLIND. To ensure fairness in a game, and in order to stop players from coming in and out of a game just before its their turn to post a blind, every player is required to post a Big Blind when they first sit at the table.

Bet Sizes

Most Texas Hold 'em games offers minimum and maximum betting limits and each betting game is determined by these limits. For example, the player may choose to play in a room of 5-10. This means that during the first two rounds of betting, the minimum 5 bet applies and all bets and raises follow this limit. During the final two rounds, the maximum bets apply eg 10 in a 5-10 game. For the really brave players out at a 'no limit' table, anything goes!

Texas Hold'em Strategy and Advice

Read Dave Colclough's news and advice columns for playing poker

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