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Friday, June 16, 2006

How to Play Texas Holdem

How to Shuffle and Deal Texas Holdem

As you become a more serious poker player, you will want to know how to shuffle and deal Texas Hold 'em poker. In a home game, you probably won't do exactly like actual poker dealers at the casino or TV do, but do your best to emulate their techniques. After following these steps and tips, you will be able to effectively shuffle and deal at your home games.

  1. Shuffle before dealing the cards. The first thing a real dealer might do is put the cards in a big pile (face down) and mix them around. Now pull them back together and shuffle the cards.

  2. Use another technique where you basically pull cards from the bottom/middle of the deck and put them on top. While doing this, be mindful not to expose any cards. Then shuffle the cards normally again. This is done a number of times to ensure the deck is efficiently randomized.

  3. Cut the deck one final time and get ready to deal.

  4. After the blinds are posted, deal each player two cards face down, starting with the person to the left of the dealer button.

  5. During the betting round, move all folded cards into the muck pile. Once betting is complete, the dealer will generally move all the chips in to a pile at the center of the table.

  6. Administer the flop. Some people like to "burn" a card before they begin dealing the flop. This means that the dealer takes the top card from the deck and puts it under the pot. Then places three cards face up on the table. Another betting round commences.

  7. Next comes the turn. The dealer once again burns a card and places another card face up on the table. Another betting round commences.

  8. Finally, deal the river. The dealer burns a card again and places the fifth and final card face up on the table. After this round of betting, there is the showdown where all players will show their hands, with the winner being awarded the pot.

If you don't want to perform all of the fancy shuffling techniques, that's OK. Just be sure to give the cards a good shuffling at least 5-10 times.

Remind the players to place their bets in front of them and not in the center. This makes it easier to keep track of bets. Once a betting round finishes, the dealer can move all chips to the middle of the table.

Sometimes a "cut card" can be useful for both cutting the deck and preventing the bottom of the deck from being exposed. If you don't have a cut card, then feel free to rip the top and side of the joker card and use that as a cut card. Place it on the bottom of the deck before you deal.

For the standard 'riffle' shuffling technique known, the ideal number of shuffles is 7 to completely randomize the deck (though more wouldn't hurt). Four shuffles or less is a bad practice as the cards will not be properly mixed.

While pushing the cards around on the table may seem to be a great way to mix up the cards, its not. Remember to shuffle using other techniques as well. (To prove this to yourself, try it with a new/ordered pack. Even 52 pickup is a poor way of shuffling.)

Burning a card before the flop, river, and turn cards are revealed is an important precaution to prevent cheating. The concept of burning cards developed as many professionals playing for high stakes would casually mark the back of certain cards, giving themselves additional information about what card was on top of the deck (and hence next to be played). Similarly in games where the dealer is playing, it is also good practice to have someone other than the dealer shuffle the cards, and someone else to cut the cards. This effectively eliminates many methods of trick shuffling/trick cutting/bottom dealing. All cards should stay on the table at all times.

How to Play Texas Hold'em

  1. If you are betting for real money (check with local laws), assign the job of bank to someone trusted. The bank then exchanges poker chips for cash to each player. If you are not playing for money, then divvy out an equal number of chips to each player.

  2. Decide who is going to deal first. The dealer shuffles the cards. Also decide the minimum and maximum bets allowed.

  3. Before the cards are dealt, you can do one of two things. Have each player put in an ante, which is the minimum bet for the table, or, use the small blind, big blind method. With the latter method, the player to the left of the dealer puts in half as much as the minimum betting amount for the table and the player to the left of that player puts in the minimum betting amount. These players are the small blind and big blind, respectively. When the first round is played and its time for all players to bet, the big blind and small blind players subtract the money they've already put in. So if the big blind put in $5 before the cards were dealt, when the first round of betting comes along he/she can claim that $5 as his bet. If the player wanted to bet $10, then he/she would only have to throw in $5, since he/she already put in $5 before the dealing.

  4. The dealer now deals out two cards to each player, face side down. They are dealt one at a time, that is, the player gets one card, the next player one card, etc.. then a second card for everyone after each player has received their first card. Standard poker dealing.

  5. Players are allowed to look at their own cards, and you should. Once the first two cards are dealt, there is a round of betting.

  6. Each player can bet, check, or fold. Betting begins with the person left of the big blind and continues around the table past the dealer to the big blind who has the "option" to increase (raise) the bet or check. That is, they can bet money on their hand or decide to bet nothing but stay in the game, or quit the round all together.

  7. Now the dealer takes the first card off the top of the deck, and discards it. This serves the same purpose as cutting the deck after shuffling; it prevents cheating.

  8. The dealer will now place the next three cards off the top of the deck in front of him/her, face up. This is called the flop.

  9. There is another round of betting. Players are betting on the total of the two cards they have face down in front of them, and the three cards face up in front of the dealer. Let's say the dealer has A - J - 3. Player 1 has A - 4, Player 2 has J - 3 and Player 3 has 4 - 10. This would mean that Player 1 now has: A - A - 4 - J - 3, Player 2 has J - J - A - 3 - 3, and Player 3 has 4 -10 - A - J - 3. As you can see, each player is using their own two cards, and the three cards in front of the dealer, to build their hands.

  10. After the round of betting, the dealer discards the card on the top of the deck, to prevent cheating, and then lays 1 more card face up next to the three already in front of him. This is called the turn or 4th street.

  11. Just like before, players are using their own 2 cards, plus the cards in front of the dealer to build their hands. BUT, you can only build hands with 5 cards. There are now 6 cards altogether; the two in front of the player, and the 4 in front of the dealer. You can only pick 5 to build your hand.

  12. There is a round of betting.

  13. Now the dealer discards the top card, and lays 1 more card face up in front of him. This is the last card the dealer will put out. This is known as the river or 5th street. These 5 cards are referred to as The Board.

  14. Players build their hands, in their heads, using only 5 of the cards on the table, and there is another round of betting.

  15. It's now time for all remaining players to show their hands by turning over their two cards. Players take turns turning their cards over counter clockwise, starting from the player to the left of the dealer.

  16. Since there are 7 cards to each player, but each player can only use 5 of them, each player needs to announce their hand.

  17. The player with the highest hand wins the pot, which is the chips that were bet during each round of the game.

Winning Hands

These are listed from lowest hand to highest hand.

  • High Card - The highest card with 2 being the lowest and Ace being the highest.
  • Two of a Kind: 3 - J - J - 2 - 5 is a pair of J's.
  • Two Pairs: 4 - 4 - 9 - 9 - A is two pairs of 4's and 9's.
  • Three of a Kind: 6 - 6 - 6 - 3 - J is three 6's.
  • Straight: 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 is a straight.
  • Flush: 5 - 7 - 9 - J - Q of the same suit is a flush.
  • Full House: 7 - 7 - 7 - Q - Q is a full house.
  • Four of a Kind: J - J - J - J - 5 is four of a kind.
  • Straight Flush: 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 Same as a straight, but all cards are of the same suit. This is a straight flush.
  • Royal Flush: Same as a straight flush, but the cards are the ace, king, queen, jack and ten.

After the dealer lays down the first three cards, if you have nothing, fold.

There can only be 4 raises during each round of betting. If each player puts in $5, you can raise the bet by putting in more money.

Play with specific chips that are unique. This prevents a player from bringing in their own chips from home.

Playing Accessible Texas Hold'em Online

All inPlay is a unique online community where blind and sighted people from around the world gather to play and interact as equals. At the heart of this community are games that provide a fun, friendly setting where people can celebrate old friendships and create new ones from across the globe. Not only are All inPlay's inclusive community and games bringing people together from around the world, but now All inPlay is being incorporated into job training, computer literacy, and youth programs for the blind and visually impaired. A 15-day free trial of All inPlay software is available at:

With slick graphics and a rich, dynamic soundscape, All inPlay brings the excitement of Texas Hold'em from the dining room table to the global neighborhood.

Thanks to support for all major screen-readers and magnifiers, including Jaws, Window-eyes, ZoomText and Dolphin Supernova, All inPlay Texas Hold'em is equally playable by the blind and visually impaired. As with all of All inPlay's software, the game is easy to learn and uses a small number of keystrokes, so you can be playing like a pro in no time. The game allows up to eight players to come together through the power of the Internet to enjoy a friendly game or a high-stakes battle with fake chips. A vibrant soundscape draws players into the game as each turn of the cards brings new possibilities. In-game text chat lets players banter with their friends as if they were in the same room.

Click this link to visit All inPlay:

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