Texas hold 'em (also known as hold 'em) is a variation of the standard card game of poker, and is one of the most popular forms of poker. The game's popularity surged in the 2000s due to poker TV shows, internet poker, and poker books. The rise of Hold 'Em was also aided by the simplicity of the game. Hold 'Em is often described as a game that takes "a minute to learn, and a lifetime to master". During this time hold 'em replaced 7-card stud as the most common game in casinos. The no-limit form of Hold 'Em, described by Doyle Brunson, as the "Cadillac of Poker", is used in the main event of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and the World Poker Tour (WPT).
The game consists of two cards being dealt face down to each player and then five community cards being placed face-up by the dealer. The first three community cards are called "the flop". The next community card is called "the turn" and the last community card is called "the river". At the end of the hand (called the "showdown"), players may use a combination of both, one, or none of their whole cards to make their best five card hand. Using all five board cards is called "playing the board".
On each round of betting, players have the option to: check, bet, raise or fold. There are four rounds of betting total - pre-flop, flop, turn, and river.
At the beginning of each new hand, each player is dealt two cards face down (called the "hole cards"). Each bet on the first two rounds of betting (pre-flop and flop) is set at the lower limit of the stakes structure. For example in a $5/$10 game, the bets and raises are $5 for the first two rounds. The last two rounds of betting (turn card and river) are set at the higher limit of the stakes structure ($10 in a $5/$10 game).
In limit hold 'em games there is usually a limit of four bets (three raises) on each round of betting. The last raise is known as a "cap". After the betting is capped, the rest of the players only have the option of calling or folding. Check-raising is allowed in all games, except occasional home games which may not allow it.
In order to designate which player is the theoretical dealer in hold'em games, a round plastic disk is used called the dealer button or simply "the button".
After each hand is finished, the button moves clockwise to the next active player and this player will then be considered to be the dealer, and will act on their hand last on each betting round. This is referred to as "being the button" or "playing the button" for that hand.
The player to the left of the button is first to receive a card and is required to post a "small blind". The small blind is equal to half the lower limit bet rounded down to the nearest dollar. In a $4/$8 game, the small blind would be $2. The player to the left of the small blind is required to post the big blind. The big blind is equal to the lower limit bet ($4 in a $4/$8 game). These bets are referred to as blinds because players must post them before the dealer deals any cards to the players.
Before the flop, the blinds are the last to act. That is, all the other players act, and then the blinds have the option of calling/raising/folding after the betting action comes back around to their position. Both the small and the big blinds are considered "live bets". But after the flop and each subsequent round of betting, the small blind is first to act.
When players first sit down to play, they will be required to post the equivalent of the big blind only once or they have the option to "sit out" until it is their natural turn to post the big blind. This rule is in place to keep players from entering games in late position and then leaving before they are required a post the big blind.
Hold 'Em, unlike Stud poker variants, does not use antes.
Players who sit to the left of the blinds are referred to as playing in "early position" (EP). Early position usually refers to the first 2 or 3 players. These players have to play their hand without seeing how the other players will play their hand. Because of this, they usually play more conservatively than players in other positions.
The next 3 or 4 players are referred to as playing in "middle position" (MP).
Players who sit close to the button are referred to as playing in "late position" (LP). Late position usually refers to the last 2 or 3 players to act. The very last player to act is called the "cut-off". Players in late position have the luxury of seeing how all the other players played their hand before playing their own hand.
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