Basics of poker-Texas hold'em

Hey, found out tonight that I’m going to be playing Texas hold-em poker with some friends friday night before we go out, the only problem being that I have no idea how to play poker, specifically Texas Hold’em. Question is, how do I not only play but what are the best ways to bull shit the fact that I have no idea what i’m doing?

Well… If you don’t even know how to play poker, than your probably gonna get cheated out of a lot of money
“But doesn’t my 4 aces beat your 2 queens?”
“No no no, the queen of hearts is the special card this round, so it automatically beats any cards.”

I would suggest running a search on the exact rules of poker (i.e. what beats what).

Now the Texas Hold 'em part is a lil different. Each player gets 2 cards (instead of 5). The dealer deals 3 cards out into the middle. You can use any amount of cards in the middle that you want, they are basically community cards (Like the village bicycle… everybody gets a ride.)
Then you make bets, and then another card is laid, place more bets, then the 5th and final card is placed. Now most standard poker games involved a hand of 5 cards. This is one of them, you can pick any cards out of the middle, and any out of your hand to use, you can even use all 5 in teh middle (however the other people could do just the same and tie you…)

I hope i explained it well enough, I myself have only played it once. I somehow got won $8 dollars… (I wasnt BETTING or anything :cool: ).
So basically, if you know what your doing somewhat, you should do well. Have fun, and remember to never play against asians, they are crafty fellows

Please excuse any comments regarding race or relating to racism. The comment was state clearly because of a friend, being asian, who lied his ass off and cheated and won a lot

Two things:

  1. You need to be sick that night, or at least leave your wallet at home.

  2. Some of the guys and I are going to be playing the next night, and we were wondering if you’d like to drop by.

Actual advice or further warnings will follow from the people who’d take all of my money.

I don’t reccomend you go to a Texas Hold’em game as your first poker experience. Hold’em is a pretty complex poker game. Instead, download one of the myriad computer poker games, and learn the basic games first (Five card draw, etc). That will teach you what beats what. Then join a game with a friend or two who is willing to show you the basics of how to properly bet and bluff. Then play Hold’em. But for God’s sake, don’t play for money!

You might want to play online for a while to get the hang of the game.

Try here:

Here are the basic rules (as I rmember them – no guarantees):

  1. There is usually a betting structure, e.g. 10/20. That means the first two rounds of betting you bet $10 at a time (i.e. you can bet $10 or raise the bet by $10), and the last two rounds of betting you bet $20 at a time.

  2. There is usually a big blind and a little blind. The big blind has to bet $10 before getting his cards. The little blind has to bet $5 before getting his cards. The blinds travel around the table.

  3. You bet in the first round after getting your two cards. Bet big if you have two aces, two kings, two queens, two jacks, or an ace and a king.

  4. After the dealer puts down the three common cards (the flop), you bet again. Unlike the first round, you don’t have to bet unless somone else has bet (not betting is called checking)

  5. After the dealer puts down the next card (the turn) you bet again, this time at the higher amount

  6. The dealer puts down the last card (the river) and you bet again. After the betting is over your turn up your cards and decide who wins.

You’re going to lose a lot of money. Poker players are not sentimental about new players. My advice–don’t go until you know what you’re doing.

I’m with the others; if you can’t play poker, don’t play Texas hold’em; its the most difficult poker game to play well; and you WILL lose money

Well, I’m no major expert, but I don’t think that Hold-Em is necessarily the most difficult game to play or the quickest way to lose money.
While there’s more skill involved than a lot of home style poker games (night baseball!), part of the reason hold-em is so popular is that even beginners win pots often enough (and overall lose money slowly enough) to keep them around. Which is the goal of a casino, and of most smart players who are in it for the money.

As for advice, the main thing is don’t play for more money than you want to lose. Decide that amount ahead of time and stick to it. If you’re in a casino, and you total loss reaches your magic number, get up, walk around, watch the tourists, cheer on your friends, whatever. If it’s a home game, then make sure your friends understand what stakes you’re comfortable with and that you playing after you’ve lost enough will only lead to you all not being friends anymore (they really are your friends, right?).

As for learning the game, there are plenty of web sites about it. If you have time, check out the library, too. I found a good one to be , if memory serves, Tuesday Night Poker, which is aimed at home games, but has a section on Hold-Em specifically.

Quercus is probably right. Hold-em isn’t that hard of a poker game. There’s nothing to remember. Unlike 7-card Stud you don’t have to pay attention to what is showing on the table and how that effects your chances of drawing your needed cards. You don’t need to think about the possibilities of the other folks hands.

Living in Nevada, and playing a little cards now and again, I’ve noticed that the people who are serious about poker don’t play the cards, everyone gets the same number of good and bad hands, they play the players.

Hmmmm I would argue that there is a much bigger gap between a good 7 stud player and a bad 7 stud player than a good Hold’em player and a bad one. Stud not only entails reading people, but remembering dead cards and calculating much more complex odds on the fly. No limit Hold’em is a different story because reading people becomes such an overwhelming factor but many Hold’Em players admit to preferring it over stud because it’s easier.

I certainly can’t make you a winning player in a single post (heck, I probably couldn’t do it in an infinite number of posts because that assumes I know what I’m talking about). Instead I’ll focus on making you look like you know what you’re doing, and maybe slow down the rate at which you’ll lose.

I’ll also assume you’ll be playing for relatively low stakes. You do NOT want your first experience to be with large sums of money, since you will almost certainly lose. Hopefully this is a friendly, low-stakes, kitchen-table social game.

First thing is the rank of poker hands. You probably know this, but suite means heart/diamond/club/spade and rank means three/four/jack/etc. So from lowest to highest:

  • high card
  • one pair (two cards of the same rank)
  • two pair (two groups of two cards of the same rank, like two 8’s and two jacks together)
  • three of a kind (three cards of the same rank)
  • straight (five cards in ascending rank with no gaps, like 2-3-4-5-6. Ace can be low, so A-2-3-4-5, or high as in 10-J-Q-K-A. Straights can’t wrap around, so for instance Q-K-A-2-3 is NOT a straight)
  • flush (five cards all of the same suit)
  • full house (a pair and a three of a kind together)
  • four of a kind (four cards of the same rank)
  • straight flush (a straight where all cards are also of the same suit)

The basic structure of the game is as follows:

Every player recieves two cards face down. These are your ‘hole’ cards. Look at your own, don’t show them to anybody else. After everyone recieves their hole cards there’s a betting round.

Next three cards are placed face up in the middle of the table. This is called the ‘flop’. These are community cards - you combine these with your hole cards to make the best hand you can (as does everyone else). After the flop is another betting round.

Another community card is turned up (this is the ‘turn’), followed by another round of betting.

A final community card is turned up (the ‘river’), and a final round of betting follows.

At all points make the best hand you can from any combination of five cards from your hole cards and the community cards. It’s possible that the five community cards make up the best possible hand, so keep that in mind.

Most common in home games is an ante - everybody puts a small amount into the pot before any cards are dealt. The other main option, most common in casinos, is a set of ‘blind’ bets. The first player to the left of the dealer must make a small bet after the hole cards are dealt, and the second player after that must make a bigger bet (the sizes of these forced bets are established beforehand). Everyone following must then call or raise to stay in the hand (or fold to drop out) - no checking.

The betting rounds can very. Mostly home games are ‘fixed limit’, meaning there’s some fixed upper limit on how big any bet or raise can be. It’s also common to have a limit on the number of raises per betting round, just to limit how much anyone might lose in a hand. The limits may change per betting round - often they’re higher on the turn and river rounds.

There’s also pot limit and no limit. I won’t go into details, but basically with pot limit you can raise up to the amount currently in the pot, and in no limit you can raise up to the amount of money you currently have on the table. If you have a choice, since you’re just starting out, DO NOT play pot or no limit this Friday.

Betting works like this: when it’s you’re turn to act you must either match the amount of the current bet (a ‘call’), raise the amount of the current bet (a ‘raise’), or choose to not put any money in and drop out of the hand entirely (a ‘fold’).

If no one before you has made a bet yet, or if you’re the first to act in a betting round, there’s no current bet to match so you have a few different options. You can choose to make a bet, or you can ‘check’ - this is essentially a bet of zero dollars.

Some basic strategy: don’t act out of turn in a betting round as it gives away information and can annoy other people. I’ve seen people fold out of turn, only to have everyone else in the hand check. That means the folder could have stayed in the hand for free, but too late after you’ve already folded. And a bet out of turn may cause people to fold that would have otherwise stayed in and given you money!

Now this probably won’t make you a winner, but may slow down you’re losing: only play good starting hands, that is two good hole cards to start with. These would be high pairs (like 10 high or better) or good high-rank ‘suited connectors’. These are two cards of the same suite that are adjacent in rank, like Ace and King of spades. These give you a chance to make a flush, and straight, good two pair, etc. Cards like 2-7 of two different suits give you little chance to build a good hand and aren’t worth playing.

Play ‘flop or fold’. That is, if the three community cards that show on the flop help your hand, keep playing. If they don’t, fold. So with Ace-king of spades, if two more spades flop or a queen and jack, you’ve got a decent shot at a flush or straight and should keep playing. If on the other hand no more spaces flop and no aces or kings, and no good shot a straight, fold.

Best advice? Play somewhere for free to learn the mechanics (online is fine). Learn the terms flop, turn, river, bet, fold, raise, check, and nuts (nuts means the best possible hand that can be made given the community cards). Learn the ranks of hands. This will make you sound like you know what’s going on. Then resign yourself to losing money for a while and jump in.

Sandyhook: What? You of course very much do need to do the things you say one need not do, but it’s a lot easier in hold 'em than in 7 card stud because there’s only one set of cards to look at for the whole table instead of a set for each person.

And your last paragraph is just a bit of trite nonsense that sounds good but doesn’t actually contain any meaningful content when closely examined.

Just don’t play Guts. It can be …ahem… expensive.

thanks PVenkman. These people are friends of mine and we’re all going in with 20 bucks and the guy who’s having everyone over is getting a couple 30’s. Basically whoever comes out on top is buying the next case of beer or pizza before we go out, so I’m not really worried about losing that much money.

Read this thread carefully. Then watch the movie Rounders or spend two hours watching the World Series of Poker on ESPN2 or the World Poker Tour on the Travel Channel.

Correct me if I’m wrong because I don’t play and I have a very limited knowledge of what I am talking about. But, from watching these one can easily gain the gist of the game. A significant proportion of the time, people bluff. Since one is only dealing with two cards, one can bet heavily on nothing with the hope of intimidating everyone else to fold, thus getting the pot put forth by the blinds. Often this is done by the player “on the button” IIRC the last one to bet. If nobody has bet aggressively, he can raise heavily to intimidate the rest of the table to fold, thus picking up the ante and some pride. Even if the other player calls your bluff and you show your cards before the flop, you have a fair chance of still winning because there are 5 cards still to come up. So if the other dude has a pair of kings and you have bluffed with an eight and a ten, and the flop, turn, and river come up with a seven, nine, and jack with no kings, you win. Or two eights or an eight and a ten. You get the point.

As others have said, this is less a card game than a mind game. Picking up clues which indicate a player is bluffing is key. Knowing a player’s style and betting strategy will let you outmanuever him. If I were you, I would sit out a few rounds and watch your friends play. If they let you look over their shoulders, so much the better. Get a feel for what they are betting on and what they are throwing away. It will help you immensely once you sit down.

Uh… you aren’t going to learn anything useful from watching Rounders. You won’t pick up game basics from the movie- you might learn a little about spotting “tells” (things that give away a players’ true feelings about his hand).

Watching the World Series, on the other hand, will teach you a great deal. Don’t bother until you’ve read this thread enough to be familiar with the basics. When you watch, pay lots of attention to the little percentages by each players’ names. More than anything else except actually playing, that will help you get a feel for what kind of hand you can bank on, and what kind you’d be best dropping.

Listen to the announcers too.

I’m guessing that since you guys are playing with a small pot, you won’t be playing no-limit. This is actually a good thing for you; it makes buying pots a great deal harder, and knowing when to call a bluff is probably the last thing you’ll learn.

As far as strategy, PVenkman pretty much nailed it. I would add that you’ll want to be really conservative; apart from anything else, the longer you stay in, the less bored you’ll get watching your friends play. Don’t be afraid to play a straight; they appear much more often than you’d expect, and a straight is really the best hand you can expect to get in Texas Hold’em.

Bet before the flop on a high pair; if you have high connectors, wait for the flop, and if you’re missing one card for a straight, play for it. If you’re missing two, you’ll probably be best-off checking.

Good luck, and remember one thing above all; avoid the temptation to buy back in if you lose your money. Sometimes, it just ain’t your night. Your first time will more than likely be one of those.

Check this out and on the left you’ll see Basic Concepts. Pay particular attention to Starting Hands and Position. There is no other card game where distance from the dealer is so important.

I’ve played poker with friends for years.
We had a typed list of rules and only played for what we could afford.
There was good company and plenty of food.

I think you need to be careful, because friendships, rule misunderstandings and losing money is an explosive mix.

I once lost all my budget (only a few pounds - I was a student) on the second hand of the evening. I had a full house, he had fours. :eek:
I dropped out, read books and watched (discreetly, not looking at any hands unless they were revealed) and ate almost all the food. :smiley:
Self control is vital when gambling, even in a small game with friends.

So ata66, how did it go?