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Texas Hold’Em

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, you are familiar with the game Texas Hold’em. Never has a poker game struck such a chord with the mainstream as has Hold’em, particularly the No Limit variation. The impression it has left on the landscape of modern society was simply unprecedented and couldn’t have been predicted by any of the players prior to the poker boom of 2003.

Before the days of online card rooms and sensationalized World Series of Poker coverage on ESPN, No Limit Texas Hold’em was a virtually unheard of game among poker amateurs. Typically, it was reserved for those with very large bankrolls and years of experience because it was played almost exclusively at high stakes. No Limit was known as the true test of a poker player’s skill and bravery, because a player had to be willing to risk their entire chip stack during any given hand. It was for this reason that the World Series of Poker Champion was (and still is) determined every year over a No Limit Hold’em table.

While smaller stakes Limit Hold’em cash games were not unheard of, finding a No Limit game with a low buy-in was nearly impossible prior to the year 2000. It was around this time that poker began to gain popularity with the film “Rounders” and the emergence of some of the first online card rooms. It was also during this time period that a small group of players in Los Angeles began playing a small stakes No Limit Hold’em game at Hawaiian Gardens Casino. From there, the word spread quickly through LA and Las Vegas and before long every casino was spreading the game with affordable buy-ins.

In 2003, with televised poker in its infancy and online satellites becoming more popular, a young accountant named Chris Moneymaker rocked the poker world when he won the WSOP No Limit Hold’em Championship. His media-friendly last name combined with his story of qualifying on PokerStars for only $39 was enough to push the poker world into the eye of the general public. Online poker rooms flourished, live card rooms were packed, televised tournament ratings soared, and everyone wanted to play No Limit Hold’em.

Since then, the word “poker” has become synonymous with Texas Hold’em for many people around the world. Gone are the days of players beginning with Stud and Five Card Draw; modern poker amateurs typically cut their teeth on Hold’em, and for good reason. Not only is the game incredibly simple to learn, but its popularity makes it an easy choice because you can always find a game at whatever stakes you desire.

There are generally three types of Hold’em Games:

  • Limit Hold’em – This variation is played with betting limits, meaning that bets and raises may only be made in predetermined increments. During the first two rounds of betting, players use “small bets,” which double to “big bets” for the last three betting rounds. For example, if you are playing a $3/$6 Limit Hold’em game, you may bet in increments of $3 for the first two betting rounds, and then in increments of $6 for the last two rounds of betting.
  • No Limit Hold’em – The most popular Hold’em variation, No Limit is just what it sounds like: there are no limits to the amount you may bet or raise at any time. Players can bet up to the amount of chips that they currently possess (called “going all-in”).
  • Pot Limit Hold’em – Although popular that the two variations mentioned above, Pot Limit Hold’em isn’t unheard of. In this variation, players can bet or raise any amount up the size of the current pot.

Hold’em, like Omaha, is a Flop game, meaning that players combine their hole cards (dealt face down) with the shared community cards (dealt face up in the center of the table) to make their best five card poker hand. For a lesson on how to play the game, please read the Texas Hold’em Rules page before moving on the Hold’em Strategy article. Then, when you feel comfortable, you can hit the felt and see why Hold’em is the world’s favorite poker game.


Read the Texas Holdem Poker Rules