Texas holdem is a poker game which uses the traditional card ranks. An ace is the high card, but can substituted for “1” in the case of a straight. The next highest card is a king, then a queen, then a jack. The descending order of rank after that is 10 through 2. A pair beats any high card, while two pairs beat any one pair. Three of a kind beats two pair, but is beaten by a straight, which is 5 cards in a row (example: 8-9-10-jack-queen). A flush is five cards of the same suit, with the suits being diamonds, clubs, hearts, and spades. A full house comes next, which is 3 cards of one rank and 2 cards of another rank. Four of a kind beats full house, while a straight flush beats 4 of a kind. The highest hand is the royal flush, which is the 10-jack-queen-king-ace of any one suit.
When cards are dealt, each player at the table receives two cards face down (hole cards). A round of betting starts the action. Two players at the table must wager, no matter what cards they receive, in order to spur action. These ante bets are called the big blind and the small blind, with the small bet half of the big one. The blinds rotate around the table equally.
After an opening round of betting occurs, three cards are placed in the centre of the table in what is called “the flop”. These are community cards, and each player can build hands with them. Another round of betting occurs, and then a fourth card (the turn) is dealt to the community. Yet another round of bets happen, at which point the fifth and final community card is played (the river card). After the river, a final round of betting happens. When cards are revealed, the player with the best 5 cards from the 7 possible cards at their disposal wins.
Read this page for more about how to play Texas holdem for beginners.
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.
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.