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The Basics of Texas Hold’em Poker

This deceptively simple yet elegant card game is usually played with up to ten players and a dealer who generally does not participate in the game. In informal games, however, dealing will pass from player to player.

Essential Principle
Players each receive two down (hole) cards (known only to them) that form the basis for their hands. These cards can be used in combination with any of the five subsequently exposed community cards (used by all players) form a five-card poker hand that determines the winner.

Bets
With the exception of No Limit Hold’em, the game rules, rather than the individual, determine the size of bets and raises. In the first two rounds of play all bets and raises are equal to the minimum bet and during the last two rounds bets and raises are limited to the maximum bet, typically double the minimum. For example: a $3–6 table, $20–40 table, $50–100 table, etc., denotes the minimum and maximum bets and raises allowed in the particular game. Betting is also limited to no more than three raises per round.

Order of Play
• The first player to the dealer’s left antes one half of the minimum bet with the player to his left anteing an amount equal to the minimum bet. Antes proceed clockwise around the table with each ensuing game, ensuring there is always some money in the pot.
• After players have received their initial two cards the round of betting begins, clockwise from the player who made the first ante. Players may then bet the minimum, fold (give up), check (do nothing), or raise the minimum bet, depending on the strength of their two cards. Checked players must then see (meet) the bets in order to stay in the game.
• After this round of betting is completed the dealer buries the top card from the remainder of the deck and deals three cards face up on the table. This is known as the flop. These are community cards used by all players. A second round of betting then begins.
• When the second round is completed the dealer again buries the top card and deals a fourth community card face up known as 4th Street. Remaining players bet, raise, check, or fold, with bets and raises limited to the maximum for the table.
• The final round of betting begins when the last card, 5th Street, is dealt face up. The winner of the game is the player with the highest five-card hand constructed with any (or none) of his two hole cards in combination with any of the five community cards. If the five community cards are the best hand he would elect to "play the board," usually resulting in a split pot.

Poker Hands from High to Low:
• Straight Flush—five consecutive cards of the same suit
• Four of a Kind
• Full House—three of a kind plus a pair
• Flush—five cards of the same suit
• Straight—five consecutive cards
• Three of a Kind
• Two Pair
• Pair
• High Card
(Aces are played high or low.)

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