Sun, Apr 28, 3:07am by Mia Chapman
Last Updated Thu, Mar 12, 7:23am
If you’re planning to play poker in Australia – either in one of the many clubs or casinos offering poker games, or online at an Australia-friendly site – you’re going to need to understand the ins and outs of Texas Hold’em. As in most of the world, Texas Hold’em is the most popular poker game in Australia (though Omaha, which we will cover in another article, also has a strong following).
On this page, you’ll find information on how to play Texas Hold’em. More than that, though, we’ll also give you some information on the best places to play this great game, either at land-based casinos or at an online casino.
Texas Hold’em is a poker game played with a regular deck of 52 playing cards, normally without jokers. The object of the game is to make the best possible poker hand by using any combination of the two cards you will be dealt at the beginning of the hand, and the five community cards the dealer will place in the middle of the table during the course of the hand. While the community cards are face up, and can be used by all players, your two “hole cards” will be face down – only you will know what they are, and only you may use them to make a hand.
If you’re not familiar with poker hand rankings, the following chart lists the best hands from strongest to weakest.
• Straight Flush: Any five cards of the same suit and of consecutive ranks, such as 2-3-4-5-6 of Diamonds. The best possible hand is a Royal Flush, made up of the T-J-Q-K-A of the same suit. Note that aces can be used as high or low cards in all straights.
• Four of a Kind: Any hand containing four cards of the same rank, such as 7-7-7-7-5.
• Full House: Any hand containing three cards of one rank, and two of another, such as J-J-J-6-6.
• Flush: Any hand containing five cards of the same suit.
• Straight: Any hand containing five cards of consecutive ranks, such as 6-7-8-9-T.
• Three of a Kind: Any hand containing three cards of the same rank, such as 8-8-8-A-3.
• Two Pair: Any hand containing two pairs of cards of the same rank, such as 9-9-2-2-Q.
• One Pair: Any hand containing one pair of cards of the same rank, such as K-K-8-7-4.
• High Card: Any hand that does not meet any of the above criteria, such as A-J-5-3-2. These hands are ranked according to their highest card, then their second highest card, then the third, and so forth.
For the first hand of play, the dealer button will be randomly assigned to a player. The two players to the left of the button must post the small and big blinds, respectively; the size of these blinds is determined by the stakes the game is being played for. If players are required to post an ante, that should also be done now.
All players will then be dealt two cards, face down. Each player may take a look at their own cards, but should not show them to the other players. Starting with the player to the left of the big blind, each player can choose to fold, call, or raise the big blind’s bet. If a player folds, they must forfeit their hand, ending their chances of winning the pot. If the player calls, they must wager an amount equal to the current bet – in this case, the size of the big blind. If the player raises, they must increase the size of the bet required to stay in the hand. In a limit game, the size of a bet or raise is fixed, while in a no-limit game, players can bet or raise as much as they want, up to everything they have in front of them at the table.
As the action moves clockwise, each player makes their decision to take one of these options. The betting round ends when either all players but one have folded, or all remaining players have called the current bet. On the first round of betting, if nobody raises the big blind’s bet, that player will also have the option to raise or “check,” passing his option to bet. If at any time there is only one player remaining in the hand, they win the pot by default, and the hand is over.
If two or more players remain after the first round of betting, the dealer will now place three community cards – the flop – on the table. The betting now begins again, starting to the left of the dealer button. Until a bet is made, players have the option to check or bet; once a bet is made, players may fold, call, or raise. Once again, the betting round will end if only one player remains in the hand, or if all players have called the current bet. However, it’s worth noting that rounds can also end if all players check, meaning there was no betting whatsoever on that round.
After the second betting round ends, the dealer places the fourth community card – the turn – on the board. Once again, the same rules are used for betting. If two or more players remain in the hand after the turn, the dealer will place the final community card – the river – on the table, which is followed by a final round of betting.
If two or more players remain after the final round, the remaining players have a “showdown.” The players reveal their cards, and the highest ranking hand wins the pot. In the case of an exact tie, the tied players split the pot as evenly as possible.
That’s how the game is played offline or online. When playing on a computer, special instructions are required. Your computer needs a compatible operating system. Microsoft Windows works best for downloads, while Mac OS and Linux OS might work for no download games, which are also sometimes called instant play, Flash, or Java games (based on the technology used in the latter two cases). Once you’re online, a player navigates to an online poker room.
Players make a decision on an online poker room based on a number of variables. Legality is one issue. Licensing is a related variable, which depends on which government around the world issues a gambling license and regulates gambling activities on the site. Software support is important.
In 1994, Microgaming was one of the first companies to design gambling software. Plenty of competitors followed, though Microgaming still powers the largest number of gambling websites on the Internet. Promotional offers and bonus rewards are an important enticement, money options for deposits and withdrawals are key in determining loyalties. Some players choose according to game selection or the reputation of the cardroom.
Once on a website, you’ll need to register an account, which is also called “signing up.” Players give the cardroom operator their basic information, such as name, address, email address, and age confirmation (to assure you’re old enough to play legally). Many poker sites now offer a no-deposit bonus, which is usually a few dollars of bonus money added to your account. This freeplay money allows you to test out the site and see if the software meets your requirements. Players can also test out the software by playing for free, so the money wagered is imaginary.
Now that you’ve signed up, you can download the casino by clicking on “Download”. Once downloaded, click “Run” to install and play instantly or “Save” to install for a later game sessions. If you don’t want to download the full casino software, click “Instant Play”, “No Download”, or “Flash Casino” to play using a browser-based game.
If you want to play for real money with serious levels of cash, you’ll need to make a deposit. This is done using a credit card, debit card, web wallet, e-voucher, or bank wire transfer. Payment is instant, so you can be playing in a couple of minutes. Visa and Mastercard usually allow payments, while their debit equivalents also work. E-wallets like Skrill/Moneybookers, NETELLER, UKash, Click2Pay, Ecocard, ClickandBuy, POLi, and even PayPal are used to move money to the gambling sites. When it’s time to make a withdrawal, the options for how you get paid are likely to be less. Also, you’ll need to wait 4-5 business days for a security check and your bank to transact the business.
When making your first deposit, almost all casinos offer a deposit bonus, also called a match, initial deposit, or welcome bonus. This might be as little as $20 or as much as $20,000, though most casinos offer signup bonuses between $100 and $1000, with provisions also made for Euros or UK pounds.
Once you have the software downloaded and your account funded, you can enter the virtual lobby and choose a game. You’ll see options like Texas holdem, Omaha, Omaha hi/lo, seven-card stud, 5-card draw, razz, badugi, and H.O.R.S.E. offered. Also, players need to make choices on whether they want to play no limit, pot limit, or cap limit. You’ll need to make a decision on the blinds you play at, because these include high roller, low roller, and rungs in between.
Event types are another decisions. If you don’t want to play a poker tournament, you can choose a cash game, also called a ring game. Plenty of tournament options exist. The freezeout is the standard tournament like the WSOP Main Event, where you play until all chips are gone. A re-buy event lets you buy a new chip stack if you get knocked out of contention, while an add-on lets you make add more chips to a dwindling stack. If you don’t have time for the big guaranteed events on the weekends, you can play in short tournaments called turbo events or sit ‘n go tournaments. Those who don’t want to spend a lot of money can enter freeroll tournaments, which you don’t have to spend a money to enter.
Once you’ve entered the gaming lobby and selected a virtual room or tournament to play in, the game should begin. Now it’s a matter of using the skills you learned through a lifetime of offline card playing to good use. Good luck playing online Texas holdem.
Tournament play works much like cash game play, with just a couple of rules changes. Instead of cash, players use chips that have no monetary value in order to make their bets. As the tournament progresses, the cost of the blinds and antes rise, in order to force players to try and accumulate chips to maintain a reasonable stack to play with. If a player runs out of chips, they are eliminated from a tournament. Players win money in tournaments based on when they are eliminated. The final player with all of the chips at the end is the winner and will earn the largest prize; in addition, other players who make it to the late stages of the tournament normally win prizes, with the last 10% of players surviving usually winning some sort of prize money.
If you want to play Texas Hold’em in Australia, you’re in luck: this is one game that isn’t hard to find. Of course, we’re mainly focused on online poker here, and we’re happy to say that there are numerous ways to play online poker for Australians. Our personal recommendation is to try 888 Poker, one of the fastest-growing online poker rooms worldwide. Not only do they offer some great Texas Hold’em games to players around the world, but they have lots of promotions that are targeted just for Australians, such as satellite tournaments to major events taking place in Australian venues, like the Aussie Millions and the World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific.
Speaking of live venues, there are plenty of places where you can get out, socialize, and enjoy Texas Hold’em here in Australia. The number one venue, without a doubt, is the Crown Casino in Melbourne. If there’s a big tournament that’s taking place in the region, there’s no doubt that the Crown Casino will be holding it. They host the Aussie Millions, the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Asia-Pacific, events from the Australia-New Zealand Poker Tour and the Asian Poker Tour.
Other casinos also offer Texas Hold’em in their poker rooms as well, even if they don’t have quite the same level of international fame as the Crown Casino. For instance, you can find great games at Star City in Sydney, Casino Canberra, and the Burswood Resort Casino near Perth.
Another option is to look for clubs or other organizations that host poker events of their own. These games tend to be somewhat friendlier and more casual than the games in casinos, but they can also be more convenient or less threatening for new players. For instance, the Texas Hold’em Poker Australia league features tournaments at several clubs and taverns in NSW venues, allowing players to win prizes and earn a ranking against players from throughout the state and country.
See our article about no limit Texas holdem strategy for beginners for more about how to play and how to win. We also offer an introduction to Texas holdem strategy in general here.