Before you can successfully play Texas Holdem online, at a casino or even in a home game with your friends, you have to understand the rules of the game. Without this knowledge, you’ll soon be the player with the short stack and your wallet will be a whole lot lighter! Seasoned players use Holdem rules to their advantage during the flop, the turn and the river, and also when bluffing. To prevent being caught with your pants down at the table, it’s best to be prepared. In this article, we’ll go over some of the fundamentals of the game.
Learning what to do with your starting hands is the first step toward winning a poker game. If you are dealt a moderately good starting hand, like suited connectors, say a ten and jack of any suit, and the flop is J-J-10, then you have hit a full house! Not too many hands are going to beat this one, so you can bet or you can slow play the hand and hope the other players will build up the pot. However, if on the flop a seven and a nine come up (plus any other card that is of no use to your hand), you now have an inside-straight draw. It’s best not to chase and hope for an eight to make the straight, unless of course all of the other players check and no betting takes place. Chasing is not a good approach, unless you are playing limit Holdem. It’s like buying one lottery ticket and praying that you hit the jackpot. If no one bets, you can place a small bet to possibly knock people out, but small is the key word. If someone bets strong, then fold. A general rule is that you should seriously consider folding before the flop if you have two non-pair (both less than a ten) or non-suited cards. Of all the Holdem rules, discipline is the most important one. Know when to call it a game so that you don’t end up losing big money.
Position is also a very important factor. Being in an early position means you are one of the first to act in a round of betting. The dealer position (called the button) is considered the strongest position because you act last post-flop. Since all of the other players have made their moves, it is an advantage because you can act with more information, which is essential to making the right decision on whether to bet, raise, check, call or fold. Play moves around the table and each player is the dealer in turn.
Good players should also know how to work the fourth and fifth streets. Also know as The Turn and The River, respectively, the fourth and fifth community cards give you two more chances to either get out of the hand before you lose even more money or stay in to increase your winnings. This is where caution is important, especially if you weren’t dealt strong hole cards. After fourth street, don’t stay in the pot hoping for a straight or flush, unless you can do so without putting more chips into the pot. However, if you’ve already put a substantial ante into the pot, you may want to play aggressively by seeing the hand through. This is where good bluffers can really earn their money.
Thoroughly understanding the Holdem rules is the key to winning. As you gain experience, you’ll be able to read other players, bluff strategically and even “predict” cards to some extent. To get some valuable practice, invite your poker buddies over and have a home game, or play online games with or antes. It’s a great way to practice your strategies without losing your shirt.
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