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Texas Hold'Em is one of the fastest and most exciting games of poker, and probably the most popular. It can have up to 10 players each hand, more than most poker games, and usually operates the lowest limit games in the cardroom.

It is a more complex game than first appears, especially when using the community cards. Always remember that everyone on the table can use the 5 community cards, and their two hole cards may be better than yours.

The best way to practise is to deal out 5 community cards, and see what is the best possible hand, and then work backwards to lower hands. Then add two hole cards. This will get you used to looking at possible variations.

Start Playing

The "button" is used to indicate the dealer position, after each hand it moves one place to the left. Before any cards are dealt, the first player to the left of the dealer posts the "small blind". The player to his left posts the "big blind".

In a $2/$4 game, the "small blind" is $1, and the "big blind" is $2.

Blind bets are live, real money bets, and when the betting comes round to them, they have the option of folding, checking, calling or raising.

Beginning with the small blind, each player receives two cards face down, one at a time, in a clockwise direction.

The player to the left of the "big blind" is first to act, he must either fold, bet the minimum bet, raise or check. The next player must either fold, call the current bet, raise, or check (if no bets have been made). This continues all round the table until all players have bet the same amount of money.

There can be 1 bet and 3 raises maximum in each round of betting.

The Flop

After all bets are equal, 3 cards are simultaneously turned face up in the centre of the table; this is called the "flop". There now follows a round of betting, starting with the player to the left of the dealer.

The Turn

After betting is equal, the fourth communal card, the "turn", is turned face up in the centre of the table. This is followed by a round of betting.

The River

After betting is complete, the fifth and final communal card, the "river", is turned face up in the centre of the table, alongside the previous four.

A final round of betting now follows. Once betting is finished the players show their best five card hand made from the 2 hole cards and the 5 communal cards. The first person to show their cards is the last person to bet or raise. The best hand wins the pot.

In limit poker, the lower limit is used for the first 2 rounds and the higher limit for the second 2 rounds.

Strategy & Tips

Pocket Cards

1. Big Pairs. High pairs from Aces to Tens are a good starting hand, you have the chance to improve on them, and even if the board doesn't help, you can still win with the highest pair.

2. Middle pairs. They have very little strength, and cannot usually win without improvement. If it is not expensive, wait to see the flop and what possible drawing possibilities are there. If opponents are betting aggressively fold. Possibilities are straight and flush draws.

3. High Cards. Two unsuited high cards should usually be played at least to the flop. The chances are that if you flop a pair you will have the best pair on the table. Suited high cards should be played more often, as a high card flush is now possible.

4. 2 Suited. If your 2 cards are suited, don't overate them. 9 hearts, with 8 hearts, is open ended and slightly better than 10 hearts with 7 hearts, as the gap reduces your chances of hitting the straight. In a strong pot fold. Ace or King suited with a small card, should be treated cautiously in the same way as gap straights. Ace with 2,3,4,or 5 is better as the possible low straight still exists.

After The Flop

1. Bet or call most of your drawing hands, i.e. if you have a four card flush or four card straight. Everyone may fold, or you may hit it.

2. If you don't have a drawing hand after the flop fold.

3. If the flop goes against your high pairs, and shows possible flush or straight, fold, especially if there is heavy betting.

4. When you hit a flush or straight, be aware of the possibilities of other players having the same hand but higher. If there is heavy betting, it is probable that someone else has hit it as well. E.g. if the board shows 6,7,8,9 and you have a 10, you have a good straight but can be beaten by someone holding 10, J. Similarly if you hit a Q high flush, there maybe Ace high and K high still in play.

Making Money

Ideally, always know what the best possible hand on the table is, this is called the "nuts", if there are several players still in the pot and heavy betting, one of them probably has it. E.g. If the board shows K hearts, Q diamonds, 10 spades, 8 clubs and 7 hearts, then the best possible hand is a high straight Ace, K, Q, J, 10, if you have Ace, J, you have it and should play aggressively, if you have J, 9 be careful.

Recognise early when you have the best hand, the "nuts", as this will maximise your betting and raising opportunities. If you have the "nuts", you can't lose, the worst that can happen is you will share the pot, so push the pot up.

Play more cautiously when you are the first to bet, (to the left of the big blind), as re-raises can be expensive. Position is an advantage in Hold'Em, when you are the last one to act, you are in a much better position. If you are the big blind, and no one has raised you will always see the flop.

When a player first sits down at a table, they will be required to post the equivalent of the big blind. All players have the option of sitting out and waiting until it is actually their turn to be the big blind before they play.

This rule ensures fairness to all players, by preventing players from hopping in and out of the games, and leaving before their turn to post the big blind.

These are the commonly accepted Top 10 Pocket cards in Hold'Em:

1. AA
2. KK
3. QQ
4. JJ
5. AK Suited
6. TT
7. AK Mixed
8. AQ Suited
9. KQ Suited
10. AJ Suited

The guide above was written and relates to Ladbrokes Poker website.



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