This internationally renowned game is played without an ante but employs two blind bets, a Small-Blind and a Big-Blind, determined by the stakes of the game. These are posted before any cards are dealt, hence the term Blinds.
In the casino version of the game, a disc called the “button” or the “puck” is used to designate the dealer and moves clockwise after each hand to the next player. The Small Blind is posted by the player to the dealer’s left which is usually half of the minimum bet. The player to the left of the Small Blind posts the Big Blind equal to the minimum bet.
Two cards are dealt face down to each player (the “hole cards”) and the person to the left of the Big Blind starts the first round of betting. During the first round of betting players have the option to fold, call, or raise. If a player does not like his hand, he may fold and not participate any further in the hand. If a player wants to contest the pot they must either call or raise. In order to call, a player must place an amount equal to the last bet into the pot. A player may wish to raise the last bet by an additional amount, which players will have to call in order to stay in. If the Blinds want to participate in the hand they have to add enough chips to their Blind to call (if there were no raises the Big Blind may check, since he already has enough money in the pot to match the last bet). The Blinds also have the option of raising.
Once the first round of betting is completed, the first three community cards are dealt face up on the board (the flop). The second and all subsequent rounds of betting begin with the player to the dealer’s left and the players have the same options as above, but they may check if there has been no previous betting. If a player places a bet, anyone who wants to continue to participate in the hand must call. After the second round of betting is complete, the dealer places one card face up beside the other three community cards. This card is called the “turn” or “4th street”. Another round of betting ensues, which in limit games has a minimum bet of double the minimum on the previous rounds. After this a fifth and final card is added to the board called the “river” or “5th street” and a final round of betting takes place.
Once the final round of betting is over, the players who have not folded turn over their cards and the best hand made with any combination of the five community cards and the player’s two hole cards, wins the pot. If two players have ostensibly the same hand, for example a pair of nines, the next highest card in the player’s hand or “kicker” is used to break the tie. Occasionally there can be a situation where two players have exactly the same hand, i.e. where the best five card hand is exactly the same for both of them. In this case the pot is split between them.
Types of Hold’em Games
Limit games have fixed betting amounts. For example, a $5/$10 limit game would have a small blind of $2.50, a large blind of $5 and the first two rounds of betting would be in units of $5. The last two betting rounds would have units of $10.
In no-limit games the maximum bet for a player is determined by the number of chips in front of them. Usually, the blinds are a set amount and the minimum bet at any time is the amount of the Big Blind. A player may go “all-in” by pushing all of their chips into the center, and if this is less than the previous bet, they will contest the pot for an amount equal to the bets of the other players up to their all-in amount. Amounts bet in excess of a player’s all-in will go into one or more side pots.
This type of hold’em is similar to No-limit except that the maximum bet at any time is determined by the number of chips currently in the pot.
Some Popular Hold ‘Em Variations
The play in Omaha is similar to that of Texas Hold ‘Em. In Omaha, however, the players each receive four cards rather than two. A player must use two cards from their hand and three from the board to create a hand. The most common versions of Omaha are limit and pot-limit.
Omaha High/Low (also known as Omaha eight or better):
This game is similar to Omaha High, except that if a low hand is possible, the high and the low hands split the pot. A low hand is five different cards from the A through the 8. The lowest possible hand is A,2,3,4,5. In order for there to be the possibility of a low hand there must be three different denominations of cards 8 or below on the board, so that together with two from the player’s hand a low is possible.
This is a variation of Hold’em where the players are dealt three cards and after the second betting round the players discard one of the cards from their hand.