Texas Hold'em is easily the best known and most easily recognized type of poker in the world. It's the most popular for tournament play, and when poker appears on television or in a movie, there's a good chance that Hold'em is what they're playing. Texas Hold'em is a relatively new form of poker, having seen its Las Vegas introduction in the late 1960s, even though it was played in Texas for an untold number of years before that (historians estimate that it started in the early 1900s). This form of community card poker has become so popular because it offers increased betting options, which allow for a more complex and action-filled game. It has become the quintessential form of community card poker, and has even developed variations that, in turn, have become their own types of poker (such as Omaha Hold'em). Texas Hold'em is the H in HORSE games.
How Texas Hold'em is Played
Texas Hold'em is a form of community card poker, or flop poker, which means that unlike forms of straight, draw, or stud poker, where players each have their own individual hands, Texas Hold'em players have two cards in the hole (two cards that are individual) and five cards that are flopped on the table and are available to all players. Players can use any combination of hole and community cards to make the best hand. A typical hand of Texas Hold'em goes like this:
Each player is dealt two cards, face down. These are the hole cards. A round of betting takes place. Three community cards are placed on the table (the flop), face up. Players bet again. The turn (the fourth card) is flipped onto the table. Players bet. Finally, the river (the final and fifth card) comes down, with another round of betting.
Any players who are still in the action reveal their cards for the showoff, and the highest hand wins. Because of the community cards, Texas Hold'em often has many hands of equal value, and ties in the highest hand are broken with kickers, cards that are a part of the 5-card hand that the player has made but are not used in determining the rank of the hand. A hand of Queen of Clubs Queen of Diamonds Queen of Hearts 10 of Spades 3 of Clubs has a ten and three kicker, a hand of Ace of Clubs Ace of Diamonds Queen of Hearts Queen of Spades 4 of Clubs has a 4 kicker, and a full house, straight, and flush have no kickers, because all five cards are used in determining the rank. If players have matching full boats, straights, flushes, or identical kickers in other hands, the tie remains and the players split the pot.
What it Offers
First and foremost, Texas Hold'em offers countless opportunities to play. There are very few (if any) online poker sites that don't offer Texas Hold'em, and the game is present at almost all tournaments and live casinos. Because it is the most popular form of poker, it's easy to find games with other players or even video games with computer AI. The majority of computer games that are poker-themed are specific to Texas Hold'em, and it's near-impossible to find a poker player who doesn't know and understand the rules of this particular variant. In short, Texas Hold'em is the easiest form of poker to play simply because so many people play it. If you can learn only one type of poker, this is the one to learn, as you'll never run out of opportunities to practice.
The initial appeal of Texas Hold'em, however, and the reason that it became so incredibly popular so quickly, is because it offers more betting action than older, more traditional forms of poker. Most older forms of poker, such as straight, draw, and a lot of stud, only offer one or two rounds of betting, whereas Texas Hold'em offers four. This drew a lot of skilled players to the game, as more rounds of betting mean more potential for bluffing, slow playing, and therefore more money and better action.
Texas Hold'em is a good game for beginners simply because of how much information is available on the game. Most media representations of poker are of Hold'em, so if you want to watch poker on television to improve your game, you should be playing this particular variation. Texas Hold'em is the subject of more books, instructional DVDs, coaching sites and courses, and the like than any other form of poker, so a player truly dedicated to learning the game will find no shortage of resources that can improve the game of any player-- from the total rookie to the seasoned shark.
Texas Hold'em Variations
Pineapple - Like regular Texas Hold'em, except players are dealt three hole cards and then discard one after the initial round of betting, pre-flop.
Crazy Pineapple - Just like Pineapple, but the third hole card is discarded after the flop, instead of before.
Aviation - Players are dealt four hole cards and discard one before and one after the flop.
Church (also known as Iron Cross)- Players each get five pocket cards and the five community cards come down one at a time in the shape of a cross (with the middle card being last). Betting happens after the initial deal and after each community card is shown. Players can use up to three community cards in their hand, but they have to be in a row (up, down, or diagonal).
The River Wild - The river card, and all cards of the same rank, are wild.
River of Blood - Like a normal game of Texas Hold'em, but if the river is red, an extra card is given (a second river). If this too is red, another card is given and so on, until the river runs black. Players may use any of the community cards, their hole cards, or a combination of the two.
Double Flop - Two separate boards of community cards are dealt out, and the pot is split between the highest hand on each board, and players make separate hands to correspond to each flopped board.
Two-Time Hold'em - Players are dealt four cards each and separate these into two hands. The hands are kept separate and a hand of Texas Hold'em ensues.
Super Eight Hold'em - Like regular Hold'em, except players get three pocket cards instead of two and can use any combination of hole/community cards for a hand.
Tahoe - Like Super Eight, except players can only use up to two of the three hole cards that they have.
Speed Hold'em - Players get four hole cards each and discard two immediately. The five cards are flopped at once, and then players bet (this is the only betting round). Very fast!