A brief history of Texas Hold’em Poker
If we are to tell a story about the origin of commercial gambling, the history of poker would go side by side, as the two cannot be separated. Dated back to early 19th century, poker is probably a card game with the highest number of variants, the most popular and widely spread being Texas Hold’em. Originating in Texas, Hold’em poker did not cross the state border until the late 60s, when three Texan gamblers brought the game to the Mecca of USA gambling – Las Vegas. At first, the game did not really kick off and for quite a while it was only offered in the famous Downtown Las Vegas casino, Golden Nugget. The reputation of the casino back then did not help with promoting Texas Hold’em to high rolling players and it was not until the game was played at the Dunes casino that Hold’em started to attract high-end players.
The objective and rules of Texas Hold’em
The best indication of Texas Hold’em popularity is that this is the card game featured in Casino Royale, when James Bond takes Le Chiffre in what is probably one of the most extravagant hands of Poker of all times. Those who had no prior knowledge on Hold’em, had the opportunity to see just how dynamic the game can be and even learn a thing or two about the basic rules.
In Texas Hold’em, the main objective is of course to win the Pot, which can be done with either having the strongest hand or by “manipulating” all other players into folding before the final stage of the game – Showdown. After all, James said it best when explaining how in Poker, one is not playing his hand but the player opposite him.
The structure of the game can be divided into three stages:
- The Setup
The first stage of the game can even be omitted since the casinos obviously have their professional dealers, but if you were to play in different surroundings, the dealer would be selected among the players who take turns in dealing the cards.
The size of the stakes or the table limit is determined by the Big and the Small Blind; player sitting to the left of the dealer will be the one to place the Small Blind. The player to the left of the Small Blind will double that amount and submit the Big Blind, thus setting up the chip values for the upcoming game. With this, the first hand consisting of two cards (known as Hole cards in Poker) is dealt to each of the players and the game is thus officially entering the Pre-Flop phase.
This is where things are getting heavy, as the players will now need to decide whether or not their hand is strong enough to stay in the game. There are several actions one can take:
- a) Fold – forfeit the hand and wait for the next round
- b) Call – match the Big Blind
- c) Raise – double the Big Blind amount
Any time that one of the players raises the bet, the next in line will have to match that amount to remain in the game or raise the stakes. The betting round will end when all the participants had their turn in either folding, calling or raising. At this point, the Flop is dealt and the dealer faces the top card from the deck face down, adding three more cards to the table, facing up this time.
This will trigger the Post-Flop, where all the players, starting from the one left from the dealer can either check (postponing the bet till the new round – this is allowed when there are no bets during the round) or submit a new bet that matches the Big Blind.
With this, the dealer will draw two new cards, Burn and Turn, one facing down and one facing up, initiating yet another betting round, which follows the same rules as the Flop round, but with the double bet value. The same way as the Turn and Burn were previously drawn, River cards are now dealt, opening the final betting round and the last stage of the game – Showdown.
Officially ending the game, Showdown is the moment when the remaining players will reveal the cards, starting from the one who placed the bet on the River. If all the players have previously checked, the first to reveal the hand is the player sitting to the dealer’s left. The Pot will go to whoever has the highest ranking hand, formed out of the player’s hand and the community cards dealt throughout all the above-described betting rounds.
Hand Ranking in Poker, highest to lowest
|Royal Flush||Suited Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 10|
|Straight Flush||5 suited sequential cards|
|Four of a Kind||4 cards of the same rank|
|Full House||3 of a kind with a pair|
|Flush||Any 5 suited cards|
|Straight||5 non-suited sequential cards|
|Three of a Kind||3 cards of the same rank|
|Two Pair||2 different pairs|
|One Pair||2 cards with the same rank|
|High Card||Hand that cannot form a valid combination from the list above|
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