Texas Hold’em for Beginners
Texas Hold’em is by far and away the most popular type of poker. It’s the one you’ll see the professionals playing on late night TV, often for incredibly high stakes, and it is also the one found at the majority of Bitcoin poker sites. Like all the best games, it’s easy to play, but difficult to master. So, how do you go about starting off in this exciting and skilful game?
The Basic Rules of the Game
The rules of the game are pretty simple, and the basic thing to remember is this: you need to get the best possible Texas Hold’em hand, which is made up of five cards, and these can be any combination of the two cards in your hand (hole cards), and the five on the table (community cards). Your other option, although it’s more advanced, is to bluff the other players and get them to fold their cards. You can see the hand rankings right here at Bigcoin Gambling.
The game follows a very rigid format, and it begins with the blinds. These are compulsory bets made before the cards are dealt, in order to get the action started. So, one player will place the small blind, and the player to their left will place the big blind – all other players don’t need to place any money into the middle. As the hands progress, these blinds move clockwise around the table. Once the blinds have been paid, the dealer then deals two cards, face down to each player. Take a look at them, but don’t let anyone else see them!
Pre-Flop and Flop Betting
The first round (also called ‘Pre-Flop’) of betting now starts, based simply on the two cards that have been dealt to each player. If you think your hand is strong, call or raise; if you think it’s weak, fold. Good players will usually fold around 80% of their hole cards, so patience is key. After this round of betting, three cards are then dealt face-up on the table (also called ‘The Flop’), and you’ll see if you’ve improved your hand.
Final Rounds of Betting – The Turn and The River
Another round of betting (called ‘The Turn’) then follows, and then a single card is dealt face-up. The same process is then repeated again on the final round of betting (called ‘The River’), leaving five cards on the table, and two in your hand. One final round of betting then takes place. If it comes to a showdown (when two or more players are left in the pot after the final round of betting), the players reveal their cards, and the player with the best five-card poker hand wins.
A Brief Guide to Bluffing
Perhaps the most famous part of Texas Hold’em is the bluff, which is when a player pretends that they have a strong hand by making a bet, in an attempt to force other players to fold. It’s a high-risk tactic, as if you’re called, you’ll almost certainly lose the hand, so it is best done sparingly and only when you’re sure that the other player also has a weak hand.
The first thing to remember about bluffing is that you have to get the bluff amount correct. If you make it too small, another player won’t be scared and will be more inclined to call; if you make it too big, it might look obvious, therefore also inducing a call from the other player. Also, remember that the more players there are in the hand, the more chance there is of you being called. This is why it’s best to bluff when there’s only one other player in the pot with you.
One advantage Bitcoin poker has over live poker is the fact that it removes most tells from your game. These are subtle tell-tale signs that you’re bluffing, such as your foot jiggling around or playing with your chips too much. There are still some tells though in Bitcoin poker, and to avoid them you should never use the chat feature, and never bet too quickly or slowly – consistency in your bet speed and bet sizes is key if you want to maintain an air of mystery around you.
Common Poker Terminology
As with most activities, poker has its own lingo, and you’ll hear it spoken quite often at Bitcoin poker rooms. To ensure you’re not too confused when the experienced players start chatting, here’s a quick list of some commonly used poker terms:
- All In. When a player bets all of their chips.
- Backdoor. Making a hand by hitting cards on the turn and the river.
- Bubble. The player who finishes just outside the money in a tournament.
- Button. Shows which player is the nominated dealer – the two players to the left pay blinds.
- Call. Match the bet made by a previous player.
- Check. If no bet has been made, you can also decline to bet and stay in the hand.
- Community Cards. The cards in the centre of the table, which can be used by everybody.
- Flop. The first three community cards.
- Fold. Giving up your cards when you think they’re too weak to compete.
- Kicker. The other card in your hand. For example, you could have a pair of Aces, with a 10 kicker.
- Nuts. When you have the highest possible hand for the board.
- Rake. The money taken by the casino on each hand.
- River. The fifth and final community card dealt.
- Rock. A player who is tight, never taking too many risks.
- Raise. When you place more money than the minimum required, forcing others to match the amount.
- Satellite. A tournament where the main prize is entry to a larger or more prestigious tournament.
- Short Stack. Having the least number of chips at the table.
- Showdown. When players eventually have to show their cards at the end of a hand.
- Slow Play. Limiting your betting when you have a good hand, in the hope that someone will perceive weakness.
- Tilt. When a player loses a big hand and then starts playing recklessly.
- Turn. The fourth community card dealt by the dealer.