An introduction to Hold’em poker

An introduction to Hold’em poker

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If you watch the World Poker Tour, then you’re probably somewhat familiar with hold’em. It’s been around since the mid-twentieth century, and it has become wildly popular in recent years. If you don’t watch the World Poker Tour, don’t worry. We’ll thoroughly explain hold ‘em in the next few pages. But first, we want to briefly mention two other classic poker versions, five-card draw and seven-card stud. We’ll cover them in next articles. I’m mentioning them here because, once upon a time, each was the dominant poker version. Five-card draw was popular in the Old West (that’s why you see it so often in old movies). Seven-card stud was the dominant version through most of the twentieth century.

You might be familiar with these games and you might wonder why we’re starting instead with hold’em. Mostly, it’s because hold’em (and its cousins Omaha hi/lo and pineapple) represent the latest trend in poker. They’re known us flop games. Part of the reason for the growing dominance of flop games is that they’re faster and somewhat easier to play than seven-card stud and five-card draw, yet they’re no less responsive to strategy. Also, Texas hold’em is the game that determines the world champion in the annual World Series of Poker. All of these factors make hold’m an ideal “learning” version. So we’ll begin with hold’em, and then we move on to seven-card stud, five-card draw, and other versions. Also remember, many of the strategies in the hold’m chapters apply to all genuine poker contests. You’ll de four-fifths of the way to knowing every poker version on earth by the time we get to next articles.

Community Cards

Each player receives only two cards in hold’em. They are dealt face down. During the course of play, five additional cards are dealt face up on the hoard (the table) as community cards; these are shared by all the players. We’ll cover betting and raising in a next articles; for right now just rememher that players use the community cards and their two pocket cards (hole cards) to build a five-card poker hand. A final hand can include one, both, or in some circumstances none of the pocket cards.

It’s probably very different from the poker games you’ve seen in the movies (unless you’ve seen RRounders), but this is how modern poker is played.

Let’s say you have:

Your opponent has:

And the board shows:

You have a king-high flush:

and your opponent has a king-high straight:

You would win this hand in a showdown.

If you hold:

Your opponent has:

And the board shows:

You have a full house, kings full of aces, but your opponent has a higher full house, aces full of kings. Here is a bad beat example from a hand I once played.

I was holding:

My opponent was holding:

The board showed:

My ace-high flush was beaten by a jack-high straight flush, and my opponent used only one card from his hand to do it.

The concept of community cards may seem odd at first, but you’ll soon realize that it’s an advantage for observant players because reading your opponent’s hand is much easier in an open game (some cards dealt face up) than in a closed game (no cards revealed) like five-card draw.

For example, a full house is not possible in hold’em unless there is a pair on the hoard. A flush is not possible unless the board has three suited cards. A straight is not possible unless three cards on the board are within five ranks of one another.