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 like 888 Poker – 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.
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.