How to Play Texas Holdem Poker

What we’re going to do now, is we’re going to learn how to play the game of Texas Holdem Poker. Texas Holdem, it’s been a big booming game hasn’t it in the Internet era? And you can be a big part of it and the best thing to do is to learn how to play it properly before you start playing the game.

That’s what I’m here to do. I’m gonna teach you the fundamentals of Texas Holdem Poker. What is it?

I’ts a game of Poker against other players. Eventually there’s gonna be seven cards in play. Two are kind of secretive, they’re your own cards. Five card layed out across the middle here and the best player, with the strongest hand will win and i’ll talk you through it. You can see on the table here you’ve got something called a Dealer Button, you’ll see this when your playing online. Everybody takes their turn to be dealer.

The Dealer Button will move around after every hand so everyone takes their turn. To the left of the dealer, that’s the person who starts the betting off in every single hand, they’re called the Small Blind. That will be, in this case, here’s the dealer. So to the dealer’s left, here’s your Small Blind. To their left, is what we call the the Big Blind. So what are the Blinds?

The Blinds, they’re the thing that start the action going. They’re compulsory bets so that we’ve got some action, we’ve got some betting to start every hand off. In this case, we’ll say the small blind is one of these $5 chips here or £5 chips, so the Small Blind to the dealers left will be five, and the Big Blind has to be twice as much. So in this case, we call this, this is what we call a 5-10 game, the 5 being the Small Blind, the 10 being the Big Blind. You’ll see games of all different levels on the website. This’ll be a 5-10 game this case.

Five Blind, 10 Big Blind. So that’s started our betting going hasn’t it? What happens next? We’ve got our table set, we’ve got our players, we have the cards dealt out initially. You have just two cards each, so out come the cards.

We’ll have three players playing on this website. Two cards to each player and the players, as the cards go over the line there, will have a little look at their cards and think, have they made a good start to the hand. We’ve got the betting started, so we’ve gone Small Blind here, we’ve got the Big Blind here, so we would say the action, the next person to act in the hand is again, as it moves round clockwise the player to the left here. So we’ve got the Small Blind and the Big Blind, so what does the player here have to do next?

Well the action is now 10, that’s him out of the bet So they’ve now got three 3 different choices. Very common term in the world of Poker are these three phrases; They are to Fold, they are to Call and they are to Raise. So lets go through the three different options that the player in the third position here in this example. if he Folds, that’s pretty straight forward, he looks at his cards, he sees the betting is 10 and he thinks “Oh, that’s too expensive, I don’t have a very strong hand, discretion is the better part of valor, i’m gonna Fold my hand.” So the cards will be Folded, nothing ventured, you can actually have many hands in Poker where you don’t lose any money in the game.

Quite nice. There is a second option is to Call. To think “Well, I’m not doing too badly but I don’t wanna commit too much to the hand.” To Call at this stage, would be just to match the bet which was 10 there, The bet will again be 10 more.

If he does that, the action keeps moving around in a clockwise direction until it comes to the next player. The third option is to Raise. Now raising is when you add money to the pot, you build it up.

You could possibly call it by playing aggressively. An aggressive player does a lot of Raising and to Raise you have to double the amount that’s been bet previously. Here, the amount is 10, so if the player in the third box is going to Raise, the minimum he would be able to do that would be 20. He couldn’t bet 15, that wouldn’t be allowed. You have to double it up. So he can bet 20 or more.

So we’ll say he has bet 20, the action then moves round the table, the player in the box here, he has to now have 20 committed to the pot. He’s got 5, we’ll put him in for 20 and we’ll move the action round to the next player to his his left, he’s again got the same options. He’s committed for 10, the bets 20, he can Fold, he can Call it at 20 or he can Raise it again.

We’ll put him in for a Call. At this stage, everyone’s got the same amount committed to the pot, that’s when the round of betting ends. And all the money goes, as we say, into the pot, that’s gonna be played out at the end. So that’s the end of the first round of betting. After this, what we do is we’ll now draw three cards out and this is called the Flop, where the dealer will, in a real game, burn a card.

Drop a card down, and then three more cards are drawn to the table. Now, you with your two cards here, are gonna be matching up seeing how strong a Poker hand you can produce here. This is called the Flop. And again the betting will open up again, to the left of the dealer. Whoever is the player left in hand to the left of the dealer, shall be the first to act.

A little bit differently to the first round here, because there’s no compulsory betting already out there, you can at this stage do something that we haven’t talked about which is called Checking. Checking is when there’s no action, but you don’t want to commit any money at this stage to the pot, but you don’t want to get out of the pot either, So you can just Check and move the action around to the next player, So you’ll maybe go Check, Check, maybe perhaps the third player here, he wants to bet into the action. We’re in a 5-10 game, so the minimum bet here would be 10. So we’ll have this player here maybe, very very confidently betting 200 chips, getting a bit of action going in the game.

The betting then moves round again in a clockwise action to the next player who’s here. He’s now got those three options we talked about before, where he can Fold, he can Call, or he can Raise. Just like in the first round of betting.

In this example then we’ll have the player Calling the bet, the third player here, he’s then got the same three options. He can match that 200, he can raise to 400 or more. Or he can think, “My cards aren’t quite good enough. I’ve seen the Flop, I haven’t got a strong enough hand.”

So in this example let’s have the third player Folding his cards and he’s out of the hand. So we’ve just got the two players remaining, all the bets are equal. So again, that’s the end of that round of betting, called the Flop and the pot is building up nicely. The next thing that happens, is called the Turn. The Turn is a fourth card. Down it goes, over it goes.

So now look; we’ve got four cards here, hopefully you’re building up a nice strong confident position in the hand. Again, to the dealer’s left the first to act, do you Check or do you bet? What should we do this time?

Maybe the player here, fairly confidently bets 200, maybe the player to his left is very confident and Raises to 500. Again the player here, we’ll talk through these three options again. What does he do? Does he Fold, does he Call or does he Raise? Lets in this example say you Call the bet, you match the 500, so that 200 disappears,that 500 goes in. We’ve got the bets matched at this stage then, that’s the end of that betting turn.

And we’re now ready for the last card to be delivered and this is called the River, everything can change on the River. A lucky player is sometimes known as a River Rat, we’ve all been one. There’s the last card that’s burnt, there’s the card that goes into the middle.

Let’s see, we’ve got a Pair of 4’s on board, lots and lots of different possibilities. We then return to the player to the dealers left to choose, what are you gonna do? Are you gonna Check, are you gonna bet?

In this example, let’s keep it nice and simple. We’ll go Check, and Check. Both players, a little bit scared perhaps to commit too much into this pot. The hand is now complete.

The last thing to do is to see who the winner is, so we turn the cards over. An 8 and a 10 there, a Queen and a 6 there. The winning hand in this example is this hand here, you’ve got two 6’s and two 4’s with what we call a Queen Kicker. We’ll talk about the Hand hierarchy in just a moment. so in this example, the player here wins the pot, all the cards are brought in.

The Dealer Button will move across one, and we’re all ready to start our next hand.

Poker: The Terminology

I’m gonna run you through lots of terminology and lots of knowledge about the game of Poker. Action. Action refers to the amount of play in a game. You can have lots of Action when there’s lots of people betting in the hand, you can have a low Action hand when everyone’s checking and moving it around.

“The Action on you”, means you’re the next person to act in the hand. It’s up to you next to decide what you’re gonna do. An All In is when a player decides to go for broke, to put all his chips in the middle and to try and double up his entire chip stack. We can see an example at the table here, you’ve got a Small Blind, a Big Blind, a Call.

The player here, looks at his cards, got a lovely hand, there’s the line, put all your chips over the line, All In, all your chips in. If you get a Call, you’ve got the chance to double up. Very risky, a lot of players call All In’s when they’re bluffing, a lot of players only call All In’s when they think they can’t be beaten. It’s taking a chance, it’s a good chance though to double your stack by going All In. A Backdoor is when you get a little bit lucky. You catch the last two cards perfectly to complete a Straight, or in this particular example we’re giving here, a Flush.

You can see the player here, he’s got 2 clubs, first three cards only included one club. By having a Back Door there, the Turn Card and the River Card, both Diamonds, was a long shot but it’s worked out for him. It’s a Back Door, the last two cards have worked in his favour and he’s completed the five cards to the Diamonds to complete the Flush there. You could do the same thing when you’re going for a Straight for instance, by getting the two matching cars that you needed on the Turn and the River, the fourth and fifth cards. That’s a Back Door. A Bad Beat.

A Bad Beat is, it’s not nice. It’s when you’re the favourite in the hand, everything is looking very very good for you, but on the turn of the last card unexpectedly, things turn against you. Nobody likes to have a Bad Beat.

We all sympathize to the player who has a Bad Beat, but we all like to be the person who benefits from a Bad Beat. So that’s when the odds turn around after the last card, the person who looked like they were gonna win the hand ends up being the loser. They suffer from a Bad Beat. Let’s talk about the Blinds.

The Blinds are very very important, the Blinds are what starts the betting going in any particular given hand. They’re compulsory bets to start everything going. Look at the Dealer Button here; the Dealer Button moves around, the player to the left of the Dealer, they’re the compulsory bet, the one that started betting going before we see the Flop, the first three cards. They’re the Small Blind to the left and to their left is the Big Blind. Bluffing. Bluffing is one of the great arts of the game of Poker.

It’s the most satisfying way to win a hand of Poker. It’s when you don’t have much of a hand, but by sticking a load of chips in, by putting some pressure on the other players at the table, you get them to Fold, you get to win the hand when you didn’t have the best hand. Bluffing, it can be dangerous, it can be expensive, it’s a very very satisfying way of winning. The best Poker players are really good bluffers and the best Poker players also spot when the other players are Bluffing. The Button as it’s sometimes referred to. That’s the marker of the Dealer, that the Dealer Button moves around, it moves around in a clockwise motion with every hand.

We all take our turn to nominally be the dealer in the hand. To be “On the Button” means that you are nominally the Dealer in the hand and that means, as the betting moves around, you’re actually gonna be the last person to act in the hand. It goes the Small Blind, the Big Blind, it moves around the table in a clockwise motion, comes back to you who’s “On the Button”, you are the Dealer. You’re the last person to act in any hand. Some people think it’s a position of great strength, because you can see what the other people have done first. On the Button, the last to act, the Dealer in the hand.

A Call. A Call is when you don’t Raise and when you don’t Fold. Let’s look at the example here at the table of a Call Bet. We’ve started the betting off, we’ve got our Small Blind for 5, we’ve got our Big Blind there for two 5 chips which is a 10, action moves around in a clockwise motion, it’s this player next to act. If they’re gonna Call the bet, they just match the previous bet.

You can sometimes call that a Flat Call where whatever the person’s bet before, behind them you bet exactly the same. You’re not Raising the stakes, you’re not Folding out of the hand, you’re just maintaining the status quo in the hand by matching the previous bet, that’s called a Call. The Check. The Check bet happens in the second and third and sometimes the fourth round of betting, where you have the opportunity sometimes to stay in the hand without placing a bet.

Now here we are, we’ve had the Flop, the first three cards to come down, the player to the Dealers left, they’re gonna be the first one to act. Nobody in the hand, in this particular juncture has yet, in this round of betting, made a bet. So you don’t have to match anything, you don’t have to Raise anything if you don’t want to.

To Check you just tap the table and it moves round to the next player. When there’s no Action and you don’t want to put any Action or put any chips into the pot, you can check and pass the buck along to the next player in line. Eventually someone’s gonna bet, but if you wanna Check and move it around, just to keep yourself nice and safe without playing any money into the hand. That’s called a Check, when you move it around without placing any money.

Community Cards. Community Cards are the cards that are placed in the middle here. They’re cards that all of us who are playing in the game of Poker get the chance to add to our hand to give ourselves the best chance to win. You have the Flop, the first three cards, you have the Turn and the River in the game of Texas Holdem.

These are Community Cards, we add to them our own, nice and secretive to ourselves to make your hands up, but these are ones that are on public show. We can all see what the Community Cards are and we can all use these cards to make our hands up. Drawing Dead. Drawing Dead means that you’re in a position in the hand where it’s impossible for you to have the winning hand, to have a hand that can beat the other players.

Here’s an example of Drawing Dead. This player here has got a Jack-8, this player here after four cards have been drawn here, has got the Ace-King. There is not a card in the deck here that can be placed here as the last card that means that the player here can win the hand. He will be what we call Drawing Dead, he has got no chance of winning the hand whatever happens. We’ll draw the last card out. Impossible for the player here to win whatever the scenario.

Drawing Dead is not a position any of us want to be in. We want our opponent Drawing Dead so we can’t lose the hand. The Flop. Once the players have been dealt their hands and the first round of betting has been completed, the Dealer will then deal you out the Flop. The Flop, is three cards turned face up that form part of your Community Cards of your hand. In a live game of Poker, the Dealer will always burn one card and then will turn three cards over called the Flop.

A very nice Flop in this case. Two Aces here, to start your hand off. The first three Community Cards in the game, they’re called the Flop. You have the Flop, the Turn, the River, these are the first ones, the Flop. A Gutshot. A Gutshot is when you catch a lucky card really.

What you’re doing, you’re trying to create a Straight, a Straight is 5 cards in sequence. In this case, 7, 8, 9,10 and Jack to make a run of five cards here, a really strong hand. Here the player with the 8, has already got the 7, he’s got the 8 himself, the 9 and the Jack, his Gutshot card. It’s this one isn’t?

He’s hoping and praying 1/14 generally. There it is, it’s the 10. The Gutshot card.

It’s a very very lucky one. It would be a Bad Beat if somebody got a Gutshot on you and caught you up on the last card of any given hand. A Gutshot completes a Straight by being one of the cards in the middle. Kicker. A Kicker is sometimes the very minute difference between winning and losing in a hand of Poker. Let’s have a look at the example I’ve put out on the table here.

We’ve finished the hand, we’ve had the Flop, we’ve got the seven cards to look at, what’s the winning hand in this situation? Let’s have a look at it then. It’s a pair of Jacks. Both players here have got a Jack, a pair of Jacks each. Neither player has managed to make Two Pairs, they’ve both got one Pair, a pair of Jacks.

So how do we decide who wins the hand? It goes down to the next best card. So we’ve got a pair of Jacks, what’s the next highest card available for either player? It’s this card here. It’s the Ace. So this player has got a pair of Jacks with an Ace Kicker.

This player has got a pair Jacks, his next best card is this 10 here. So the winner in this particular hand is this player here. He’s got a pair of Aces with a higher Kicker, something to back up his Pair, without making a stronger hand is the Kicker and the Ace Kicker this time will win the hand for that player. Limping In. Limping In means that you place the minimum amount of chips necessary to keep yourself in the hand when you’re the last player to act.

We’ll make this seem a little bit clearer. Let’s look at the table here, we’ve got the Dealer Button, Small Blind for one, all the players in the hand have bet two chips worth 10, 10, 10, 10, 10. The last one to act here is the Small Blind, he’s already bet 5, he’s gonna Limp In, he’s not gonna Raise, he’s gonna put the minimum amount in, as the last player in the hand to finish off the action, he’ll just put in his extra 5 chips to even it up, he’s Limped In.

He hasn’t Raised the Action, he hasn’t been aggressive, he’s kept the game fairly low-key. Limping In, sometimes people do it as a bluff when they’ve got a very very strong hand, watch out for that. Loose.

A Loose player is somebody who tends to play a lot of hands, who tends to Raise a lot, tends to get involved in every pot. You can never be sure if a Loose player is bluffing or if they have a big hand. If a Loose player plays every hand generally though, they are running into somebody with a really big hand who will take them down; Loose players.

They can win or lose a lot of money very very quickly. In the Muck. That means when you decide to discard your hand, throw it away and surrender in the hand. I’ll show you how to Muck a hand. The Dealer here, Small Blind has placed his chip here, the Big Blind behind.

He’s Raised and he’s bet another hundred. This player here has looked at his cards, he’s gone “Oh dear, I haven’t got very much here, I don’t wanna play.” What they do, they throw their cards into the middle into the Muck, they’re out of the hand. In this case, they’ve Mucked their cards without even spending a Dime, a Penny, a Cent in the hand. A Muck is when you throw your hand in and give up. An Out.

An Out is your chance to catch up, catch up on the last card in the hand. Let’s see if there’s any Outs for the players here. Let’s have a look at our two hands, player here with the Ace-Jack, he’s got a Pair already, he’s in the lead. The player looking for Outs is the player here with the Ace and the King. What are his Outs then?

Let’s work them out. If the last card was an Ace, he’d have a pair of Aces, he’d win. If the last card was a King, he’d have a pair of Kings, he’d beat the pair of Jacks. One more potential win over him actually is the Queen as well. We’d have 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace, a Straight. So the player in this scenario’s got a few Outs.

He’s got three different Outs, three ways of catching up at the last minute. The more Outs you have, the more chance you’ve got in the hand. If you can work out you’ve got lots of Outs, maybe it’s a better idea to stay in the hand. If you’ve got very few Outs, maybe the wisest manoeuvre would be to give up the hand, throw it in the Muck and of course in this occasion, the Ace comes, the Out has come in, they’ve caught up, it’s been a lucky catch on the River. That’s an Out.

The Pot. The Pot is the amount of chips, the amount of money that’s been wagered in the hand so far. The amount that’s in the Kitty, to be won at any given stage of the hand. The Pot is here, and on the live game, right in front of me here.

You add to the Pot before and during the hand and as you come to the River, the last chance to add to this Pot, to the amount of money that you’re all aiming to win is in your last set of betting. The bigger the Pot, the more that you’re likely to want to be betting into it at the last minute. If it’s a very small Pot, you’re very risky putting a big bet in. If the Pots already very very large, you want to be in that Pot as often as possible for the chance of winning it. There are two different ways of playing the game of Poker. You can play No Limit or Pot Limit.

Pot Limit, limits the amount of money, the amount of chips that can be wagered on any particular round of betting. It restricts the amount that could be won and lost in each individual hand, it means that you can budget your game a lot easier when you’re playing Pot limits. Some people prefer it, some people don’t.

Your choice to play No Limit or Pot Limit. Pot Limit puts a ceiling on the amount that you’re allowed to bet in any one particular hand or any one particular round of betting. A fantastic hand if you can catch one is Quads.

Quads is when you have Four of a Kind. Fairly rare and if you get beaten on Quads you can consider yourself very very unfortunate. Here’s an example of some Quads here.

three 10s, down there on the Flop, on the Turn, on the River as well, one of each, three 10’s, one in the players hand here, makes the best hand available to himself. Four 10’s, Ace Kicker. Quads are a very very strong. Of course, the higher the Quad, the better.

Four 10’s will beat four 6’s. The Rake is a very very small amount that you will have, it’s more like a tax of tables. It’s like a betting tax at the Poker Tables. The Rake is the small percentage of the winnings in every hand, that are taken by the casino operator, or the croupier sometimes, if you’re fortunate enough in a live game as a commission for running the game.

So maybe here, you’ve got a great big Pot here of about eleven or twelve hundred, perhaps the Rake would be ten, fifteen or twenty chips that don’t return to you, they go into the Kitty of the casino operator and the winning hand gets the rest of it. The Rake, normally a couple of percent goes back the casino operator, the Dealer. That’s the Rake. The Raise. The Raise is a way of increasing the Pot, increasing the amount of money in the Kitty and hopefully increasing your win. It’s an aggressive tactic to get things moving.

Let’s have a look at this sort of pre-Flop situation here, early in the hand. The Dealers Buttons here, Small Blind, one chip there for five, compulsory bet. There’s your Big Blind there, compulsory bet for ten. That’s a Call Bet there for ten, it’s just moving nice and quietly. Maybe the player here has a little peek at his cards, sees they’re really strong and thinks “Right, I’m gonna put some money into the Kitty, I wanna get this Pot nice and big so I can win it.” A Raise has to be double or more the previous bet.

The bet here was 10, so if you’re gonna Raise, you have to make a bet of 20 or more, So perhaps the player will bet 300. That’s a big Raise. The Re-Raise.

The Re-Raise, we’ve spoken about the Raise when you can increase the Pot to increase the amount of money in there to get yourself a nice win. Let’s look at a Re-Raise, when the stakes get increased again and again. The example at the table here; Small Blind for five, Big Blind for ten, player here in this position, he’s Raised to a hundred. Player here, got a very nice strong hand.

He’s given three choices now. He can Fold his hand, he can Call that Raise of one hundred, he can Re-Raise. He can Re-Raise by taking that hundred and doubling it or more.

A minimum bet to Re-Raise would be two hundred. Maybe in this case, a good Re-Raise would be to four. It puts the pressure back on the player who has done the Raise. Basically it’s you saying, “I’m stronger than you.

You think you wanna bet? Now I’m really betting.” It puts the pressure back on the player behind, it’s a very aggressive strategy. The aggressive players, they Re-Raise all the time.

They put the players before them under a lot of pressure by Re-Raising. It’s an attractive way to play if you’ve got a great hand. It’s also what bluffers do, to try and pinch some money from people who have Raised in front of them. The Short Stack. The Short Stack is the player at the table with the least number of chips at the table.

He’s the one that everyone’s normally looking at thinking, “We’re gonna try and eliminate him, we’ll put him under pressure.” When a Short Stack is put All In, sometimes he won’t have enough money to cover the other players bets. That doesn’t matter, he can still push all his chips and be allowed to bet just that amount. The Short Stack, sometimes they get put under pressure, sometimes people will bet against the Short Stack when they shouldn’t.

So it’s not always the worst position to be in. You can quite often double through your chips when you’re the Short Stack because people will try and get you at the game. Side Pots are when one or more of the players in the hand, hasn’t got enough to cover the entire bet.

They go All In with the chips they’ve got, as an excess, that the other players at the table are playing for that they haven’t been funded enough to play in the hand. That’s called a Side Pot. When one player hasn’t got quite enough chips to play the entire Pot, the remainder is played by the other players, in what’s called a Side Pot, which they play separately against themselves, rather than with the player who is All In. The most skilful players in live play look for things like a Tell. A Tell is sometimes a little scratch of the nose, sometimes it’s a nervous little twitter, sometimes it’s playing with their chips. It’s when a player kind of lets you know what’s going on.

Now highly skilled players can spot what’s called a Tell in other players. In fact, the craftiest players will throw a Tell out there that’s a Bluff. So Tells can work for you and Tell against you.

Are you good at spotting them? I don’t know, I can’t. The Tell. Two kinds of players generally in the game of Poker.

Loose players and Tight players. Pretty straight forward. A Tight player is somebody who doesn’t play many hands.

They sit very quietly, they Fold a lot of hands, they don’t get involved in a lot of hands, they certainly don’t Raise or Re-Raise very much. But when they come out of their bunker, they normally bet quite heavily because they haven’t played many hands, they need to catch up. So watch out for these Tight players.

When they do play, they play big, but they don’t play very often. The more disciplined players I should say, are the Tight players, but they don’t always win. Something we all try to avoid as Poker players is Tilt.

It’s going on Tilt after you’ve lost a hand, if the luck isn’t running with you, sometimes you can go, what we say, on Tilt. That means that you start betting probably a little bit more than you should, a bit more often than you should, on maybe on hands when you shouldn’t be betting. Look out for a player on Tilt. Quite often that’s an opportunity to win some nice easy chips from a player who’s lost his discipline. Look out for them as well. If they win, they can win big on Tilt.