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Texas Hold’em for Beginners

This is by far the most popular variation of Poker. Players receive seven cards in total; two hidden cards and five community cards. Their hand is the best combination of any five of these cards. In Texas Hold’em two players each hand must wager or ‘post’ a blind bet, known as the ‘blind’, before any cards are dealt. The player to the left of the left of the dealer is the ‘small blind’, and to the left of him is the ‘big blind’, which is twice the size. In tournaments, the blinds are increased at set time-levels in order to force players to take action rather than waiting all day for pocket Aces.

After the blinds and antes have been posted, each player is dealt two ‘hole’ cards: these cards are unique to each player, and are only be seen by them. Then there is the first round of betting, starting with the player to the left of the big blind, which forms the minimum allowable bet. After this round of betting, should there still be more than one player left in the game, the ‘Flop’ is dealt: these are three community cards, dealt face-up in the centre of the table.

There is a second round of betting this time made on the basis of each player’s unique hole cards and the three shared community cards. After this round of betting, should there still be players in the game, the ‘Turn’ is dealt: one more community card.

There is now a third round of betting, each player now bets on their best poker hand of five cards made out of their personal hole cards and the four shared community cards. After this round, if players are still in the game, the ‘River’ is dealt, the last community card.

Now all of the cards have been dealt there is a final round of betting. If more than one player is left, the players show their cards, starting with the player whose bet has been called. The player with the best hand, made out of a five-card combination of their seven available cards (the community cards and their own hole cards), wins and takes the whole pot (minus, in cash games, a percentage for the house known as ‘the rake’).

The best way to learn the rules of poker is simply to play poker, either with friends or online on one of the multitude of online poker platforms that offer free or small-stakes money games, which means anyone can understand, improve at and finally master the art of poker.

It is also essential to learn or to have the basic pre-flop odds on hand, as knowing the chance of winning at the start of the game, based on your two hole cards, is a must.

Approximate Pre-flop odds for 2 player show-downs

Two Aces: 85% chance of winning
High pocket pair vs low pocket pair (e.g. Kings against 10s): 80% chance. Interestingly, a pair of tens is slightly better against a pair of fivesthan Aces are, as the tens will have a better chance of making a straight.
Pocket pair vs two over-cards (e.g. 10s against KQ): 55%
Pocket pair vs one over card & one under-card (e.g. JJ against A7): 70%
Pocket pair vs two under-cards: 80% if the cards are connected; nearly 85% if they are not.
Pocket pair vs same card & over-card: 70%.
Pocket pair vs same card & under-card: 85%
Two overcards (e.g. KQ vs 84): 65%.
One over-card and one under-card: 60%

Note: all percentages are given to the nearest round figure. Suited cards or connected cards will change the odds fractionally.

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