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Michael Craig 's book The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King details a series of high-stakes Texas hold 'em one-on-one games between Texas banker Andy Beal and a rotating group of poker professionals.
The ability to play cheaply and anonymously online has been credited as a cause of the increase in popularity of Texas hold 'em.
The and winners Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer, respectively of the World Series no-limit hold 'em main event qualified by playing in these tournaments. Although online poker grew from its inception in until , Moneymaker's win and the appearance of television advertisements in contributed to a tripling of industry revenues in Hold 'em is normally played using small and big blind bets — forced bets by two players.
Antes forced contributions by all players may be used in addition to blinds, particularly in later stages of tournament play.
A dealer button is used to represent the player in the dealer position; the dealer button rotates clockwise after each hand, changing the position of the dealer and blinds. The small blind is posted by the player to the left of the dealer and is usually equal to half of the big blind. The big blind , posted by the player to the left of the small blind, is equal to the minimum bet.
After one round of betting is done, the next betting round will start by the person in the small blind. When only two players remain, special 'head-to-head' or 'heads up' rules are enforced and the blinds are posted differently. The dealer acts first before the flop. After the flop, the dealer acts last and continues to do so for the remainder of the hand. The three most common variations of hold 'em are limit hold 'em, no-limit hold 'em and pot-limit hold 'em.
Limit hold 'em has historically been the most popular form of hold 'em found in casino live action games in the United States. In the next two rounds of betting turn and river , bets and raises must be equal to twice the big blind; this amount is called the big bet. No-limit hold 'em has grown in popularity and is the form most commonly found in televised tournament poker and is the game played in the main event of the World Series of Poker. In no-limit hold 'em, players may bet or raise any amount over the minimum raise up to all of the chips the player has at the table called an all-in bet.
The minimum raise is equal to the size of the previous bet or raise. If someone wishes to re-raise, they must raise at least the amount of the previous raise. If a raise or re-raise is all-in and does not equal the size of the previous raise or half the size in some casinos , the initial raiser cannot re-raise again in case there are other players also still in the game.
In pot-limit hold 'em, the maximum raise is the current size of the pot including the amount needed to call. Some casinos that offer hold 'em also allow the player to the left of the big blind to post an optional live straddle , usually double the amount of the big blind.
This causes that player to act as the big blind and the player has an option to raise when it comes to their turn again. Some variations allow for straddle on the button.
No-limit games may also allow multiple re-straddles, in any amount that would be a legal raise. Following a shuffle of the cards, play begins with each player being dealt two cards face down, with the player in the small blind receiving the first card and the player in the button seat receiving the last card dealt. As in most poker games, the deck is a standard card deck containing no jokers.
These cards are the players' hole or pocket cards. These are the only cards each player will receive individually, and they will only possibly be revealed at the showdown , making Texas hold 'em a closed poker game. The hand begins with a "pre-flop" betting round, beginning with the player to the left of the big blind or the player to the left of the dealer, if no blinds are used and continuing clockwise. A round of betting continues until every player has folded, put in all of their chips, or matched the amount put in by all other active players.
See betting for a detailed account. Note that the blinds are considered "live" in the pre-flop betting round, meaning that they are counted toward the amount that the blind player must contribute.
If all players call around to the player in the big blind position, that player may either check or raise. After the pre-flop betting round, assuming there remain at least two players taking part in the hand, the dealer deals a flop , three face-up community cards. The flop is followed by a second betting round.
This and all subsequent betting rounds begin with the player to the dealer's left and continue clockwise. After the flop betting round ends, a single community card called the turn or fourth street is dealt, followed by a third betting round. A final single community card called the river or fifth street is then dealt, followed by a fourth betting round and the showdown, if necessary.
In the third and fourth betting rounds, the stakes double. In all casinos, the dealer will burn a card before the flop, turn, and river. Because of this burn, players who are betting cannot see the back of the next community card to come. This is done for traditional reasons, to avoid any possibility of a player knowing in advance the next card to be dealt due to its being marked. If a player bets and all other players fold, then the remaining player is awarded the pot and is not required to show their hole cards.
If two or more players remain after the final betting round, a showdown occurs. On the showdown, each player plays the best poker hand they can make from the seven cards comprising their two-hole cards and the five community cards. A player may use both of their own two hole cards, only one, or none at all, to form their final five-card hand. If the five community cards form the player's best hand, then the player is said to be playing the board and can only hope to split the pot, because each other player can also use the same five cards to construct the same hand.
If the best hand is shared by more than one player, then the pot is split equally among them, with any extra chips going to the first players after the button in clockwise order. It is common for players to have closely valued, but not identically ranked hands. Nevertheless, one must be careful in determining the best hand; if the hand involves fewer than five cards, such as two pair or three of a kind , then kickers are used to settle ties see the second example below.
The card's numerical rank is of sole importance; suit values are irrelevant in hold 'em. If the first or second card dealt is exposed, then this is considered a misdeal.
The dealer then retrieves the card, reshuffles the deck, and again cuts the cards. However, if any other hole card is exposed due to a dealer error, the deal continues as usual. After completing the deal, the dealer replaces the exposed card with the top card on the deck, and the exposed card is then used as the burn card. If more than one hole card is exposed, a misdeal is declared by the dealer and the hand is dealt again from the beginning.
Each player plays the best five-card hand they can make with the seven cards available. In this case, Ted's full house is the best hand, with Carol in second, Alice in third and Bob last. Here is a sample game involving four players. The players' individual hands will not be revealed until the showdown, to give a better sense of what happens during play:. Alice is the dealer. Alice deals two hole cards face down to each player, beginning with Bob and ending with herself.
Ted must act first, being the first player after the big blind. Carol's blind is "live" see blind , so there is the option to raise here, but Carol checks instead, ending the first betting round. On this round, as on all subsequent rounds, the player on the dealer's left begins the betting. Alice now burns another card and deals the turn card face up.
Bob checks, Carol checks, and Alice checks; the turn has been checked around. Because of the presence of community cards in Texas hold 'em, different players' hands can often run very close in value. As a result, it is common for kickers to be used to determine the winning hand and also for two hands or maybe more to tie. A kicker is a card which is part of the five-card poker hand, but is not used in determining a hand's rank. The following situation illustrates the importance of breaking ties with kickers and card ranks, as well as the use of the five-card rule.
After the turn, the board and players' hole cards are as follows. Bob and Carol still each have two pair queens and eights , but both of them are now entitled to play the final ace as their fifth card, making their hands both two pair, queens and eights, with an ace kicker. Bob's king no longer plays, because the ace on the board plays as the fifth card in both hands, and a hand is only composed of the best five cards.
They therefore tie and split the pot. However, had the last card been a jack or lower except an eight or a queen which would make a full house, or a ten which would give Carol a higher second pair , Bob's king would have stayed in the game and would have won. Most poker authors recommend a tight- aggressive approach to playing Texas hold 'em.
This strategy involves playing relatively few hands tight , but betting and raising often with those that one does play aggressive. Almost all authors agree that where a player sits in the order of play known as position is an important element of Texas hold 'em strategy, particularly in no-limit hold'em.
As a result, players typically play fewer hands from early positions than later positions. Because of the game's level of complexity, it has received some attention from academics. One attempt to develop a quantitative model of a Texas hold'em tournament as an isolated complex system has had some success,  although the full consequences for optimal strategies remain to be explored.
In addition, groups at the University of Alberta and Carnegie Mellon University worked to develop poker playing programs utilizing techniques in game theory and artificial intelligence. Although it does not win every hand, it is unbeatable on average over a large number of hands. The program exhibits more variation in its tactics than professional players do, for instance bluffing with weak hands that professional players tend to fold.
Because only two cards are dealt to each player, it is easy to characterize all of the starting hands. Because no suit is more powerful than another , many of these can be equated for the analysis of starting-hand strategy. Because of this equivalence, there are only effectively different hole-card combinations.
Thirteen of these are pairs, from deuces twos to aces. There are 78 ways to have two cards of different rank 12 possible hands containing one ace, 11 possible hands containing one king but no ace, 10 possible hands containing one queen but no ace or king, etc. Both hole cards can be used in a flush if they are suited, but pairs are never suited, so there would be 13 possible pairs, 78 possible suited non-pairs, and 78 possible unsuited "off-suit" non-pairs, for a total of possible hands.
Because of the limited number of starting hands, most strategy guides include a detailed discussion of each of them. This distinguishes hold 'em from other poker games where the number of starting card combinations forces strategy guides to group hands into broad categories.
Another result of this small number is the proliferation of colloquial names for individual hands. Texas Hold'em is commonly played both as a "cash" or "ring" game and as a tournament game.
Strategy for these different forms can vary. Before the advent of poker tournaments , all poker games were played with real money where players bet actual currency or chips that represented currency.
Games that feature wagering actual money on individual hands are still very common and are referred to as "cash games" or "ring games". The no-limit and fixed-limit cash-game versions of hold 'em are strategically very different. Doyle Brunson claims that "the games are so different that there are not many players who rank with the best in both types of hold 'em.
Many no-limit players have difficulty gearing down for limit, while limit players often lack the courage and 'feel' necessary to excel at no-limit. Because one is not usually risking all of one's chips in limit poker, players are sometimes advised to take more chances. Lower-stakes games also exhibit different properties than higher-stakes games. Small-stakes games often involve more players in each hand and can vary from extremely passive little raising and betting to extremely aggressive many raises.
This difference of small-stakes games has prompted several books dedicated to only those games. Texas hold 'em is often associated with poker tournaments largely because it is played as the main event in many of the famous tournaments, including the World Series of Poker 's Main Event, and is the most common tournament overall.
Standard play allows all entrants to "buy-in" for a fixed amount and all players begin with an equal value of chips. Play proceeds until one player has accumulated all the chips in play or a deal is made among the remaining players to " chop " the remaining prize pool.
The money pool is redistributed to the players in relation to the place they finished in the tournament. Only a small percentage of the players receive any money, with the majority receiving nothing. As a result, the strategy in poker tournaments can be very different from a cash game. Proper strategy in tournaments can vary widely depending on the amount of chips one has, the stage of the tournament, the amount of chips others have, and the playing styles of one's opponents.
In tournaments the blinds and antes increase regularly, and can become much larger near the end of the tournament. This can force players to play hands that they would not normally play when the blinds were small, which can warrant both more loose and more aggressive play. One of the most important things in Texas hold'em is knowing how to evaluate a hand. The strategy of playing each hand can be very different according to the strength of the hand.
For example, on a strong hand, a player might want to try to appear weak in order to not scare off other players with weaker hands, while on a weak hand, a player might try to bluff other players into folding. There are several ways to evaluate hand strength; two of the most common are counting outs and using calculators.
Such cards are called "outs", and hand strength can be measured by how many outs are still in the deck if there are many outs then the probability to get one of them is high and therefore the hand is strong. The following chart determines the probability of hitting outs bettering the player's hand based on how many cards are left in the deck and the draw type. There are several other poker variants which resemble Texas hold 'em.
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