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Texas Hold’em is the most popular variant of poker around the world, and the one most commonly used in poker tournaments and competitions. The game is easy to understand, yet underneath its deceptively simple gameplay is an addictive and fun experience that takes patience and skill to master.
The game dates back to the early 1900s, with its official origin pinpointed to Robstown, Texas, although it is believed to have been played long before this. The game spread through the state and then the country, eventually arriving in the betting mecca of Las Vegas in the mid-1960s. It spread around the casinos, becoming widely played in the 1970s with the rise of Vegas poker tournaments.
Its proliferation around the globe is largely attributed to the game’s inclusion in two publications – the first being Doyle Brunson’s 1978 poker strategy guide Super/System and its sequel, while the second was the 1983 book The Biggest Game In Town, which documented the events in the 1981 World Series of Poker.
In Texas Hold ’em, players are initially issued with two cards face down. The two players to the left of the dealer or button pay in a big blind and small blind respectively. The big blind is equal to the minimum bet, and the small blind is exactly half of this amount.
After a first round of betting, the flop is dealt; this is the collective term for the first three cards of the community cards that are set face up for all players to see. After another round of betting, a fourth card, known as the turn or fourth street, is dealt. Finally, after another round of betting, the fifth and final community card, called the river or fifth street, is shown.
Players then continue to bet until the bets are equalled. They then enter the showdown and reveal their cards, and the person who can make the best hand with their two cards and three of the community cards wins the cash pot. Players can use both of their cards, one of their cards, or rely on the five community cards. If two players share an equal hand not using all five cards, then the remaining hole cards, known as the kicker cards, decide the winner. The pot is split if two hands of equal strength are played and no kicker is available.
Standard Texas Hold ’em has three different betting modes. Pot limit is where the maximum bet is equal to whatever amount is held in the pot, no limit means there is no maximum bet, while fixed limit ties the amount the bets can be raised to the size of the big and small blinds.
There are also several variants of the game itself. Pineapple or Crazy Pineapple sees players dealt three cards instead of the standard two; in the former, one of the cards is discarded during the first bet round, while in the latter one card is discarded after the flop has been revealed.
Super-Eight is similar to Pineapple, but sees the three cards dealt and remain throughout the entire game. Tahoe is much the same, but players are only able to use two of the three cards in their final hand, whereas in Super Eight they can use all three if they so choose.
Aviation is similar to Omaha, with each player dealt four initial hole cards, however they must discard one before the flop is revealed, and another after the flop has been revealed.
One of the more extreme variations of Texas Hold ’em is the River of Blood, which dictates that if the fifth community card, the river, is a red card, then betting continues again, and a sixth community card is placed down. This continues again and again until the next community card dealt is black.
For players in a hurry, Speed Hold ’em sees players dealt with four cards, of which they must discard two immediately. All five community cards are dealt immediately, and there is only one round of betting before the showdown.
For those who wish to make the game more interesting, Blind Man’s Bluff means that rather than keeping their two hole cards face down, players hold them face up so that all the players except the person holding them can see the cards. Players are then forced to make bets based on what everyone else holds.
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