Texas Hold ‘Em (usually just called Hold ‘Em) is the one most commonly played in casino card rooms. Hold ‘Em can be played with only two players or, theoretically, with as many as twenty-two players (this exhausts the number of cards in the deck). In practice, however, it is rarely played with more than ten players due to the size of the table, with six to ten players considered the optimum range.
The first betting round is structured slightly differently from draw or stud. There is usually no ante put in by every player. Instead, the two players on the dealer’s left each put in small initial bets called ‘blinds’. These bets are called blind bets (blinds for short) because they are made at a stage before the players receive their cards. As the deal passes round the table a different two players put in (or post) the blinds. Thus over time every player will post the same number of blinds.
In the majority of casino games there is a house dealer, and to ensure that every player has a chance of sitting in what would nominally be the dealer’s position a small disk or’button’is moved around the table. The house dealer always deals the first card to the player on the left of the dealer button. The player with the dealer button is last to act on every round of betting for that hand, with the exception of the first one where the blinds are ‘live’, meaning that the players who posted the blinds have the option to raise.
The game starts with each player receiving two cards face down. After they have looked at their own cards, there is a round of betting. As the first two players on the dealer’s left have put in bets, it is the third player on the dealer’s left who is first to act and because a bet (blind) has already been made he cannot check. He must call the blind, raise or fold. If the action proceeds all the way around to the players who posted the blinds, without being raised, then these players have the option to raise themselves. If they do not wish to do so, they simply say’no raise’ or tap the table.
Once the first betting round is over, the dealer discards (or ‘burns’) the top card of the deck. It is dealt face down on to the table, this card is called a ‘burn card’ and it is not used in the play of the hand. This is to ensure that cheating is made difficult or impossible to achieve. If the top card was not burnt then players might be tempted to mark particular cards and try and spot them on top of the deck. If the cards are marked, a player who is able to read the backs will know what the top card is and this information could be very advantageous. For instance, if a player had 6-6 in hand and knew that the first card dealt would be a 6, then that player could bet and raise with impunity.
After the first betting round, three cards are turned face up in the middle of the table. This is called’the flop’. After a further round of betting, a fourth card, called the’ turn’ or ‘fourth street’ is turned. Another round of betting is followed by a final face-up card (called the ‘river’ or’fifth street’). The five cards in the centre of the table are collectively known as the ‘board’, After the last round of betting the players reveal their hole cards.