Read an Excerpt
Everything Casino Poker
Get the Edge at Video Poker, Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Lo and Pai Gow Poker
By Frank Scoblete, Bill "Ace-1100" Burton
Triumph BooksCopyright © 2013 Frank Scoblete
All rights reserved.
The voice in this section is Bill "Ace-10" Burton.]
At the turn of the century Texas Hold'em was an obscure game. In most poker rooms around the country, Seven-Card Stud was being played by the majority of poker players. No-Limit Texas Hold'em was being played in major tournaments such as the World Series of Poker, but the average poker player playing kitchen-table poker at home had never heard of the game. Poker rooms back then also had a darker reputation for being full of sharks waiting to gobble up any amateur foolish enough to sit down at a table. The majority of casino players never thought of entering into a casino poker game. All that changed in three years.
The World Poker Tour made its debut on the Travel Channel on Sunday, March 31, 2003. Suddenly poker was taken out of the smoked-filled casino card rooms and transported into the well-lit living rooms of millions of people. The game they were playing was Texas Hold'em, and by utilizing a special hole-card camera, poker became a spectator sport that captured the fancy of the young and old alike. People who had never played a hand of poker before wanted to play Texas Hold'em.
Texas Hold'em is fast paced and easy to learn. The game can be played with more players, which means bigger pots, making it exciting and profitable for those players who make the effort to learn correct play.
The basic concepts of Hold'em are easy to learn and understand. Each player is dealt two personal cards, and then five community cards are dealt faceup in the middle of the table. Since there are five community cards, you do not have to keep track of all the dead cards that were folded by your opponents as you do in Stud. You can easily learn guidelines for which starting hands to play and which to fold.
Please Note:Hold'em is a positional game.
A dealer button rotates to the left after each hand. The player to the left of the dealer button acts first. Players will always act in the same order for the entire hand. If you have the dealer button, you will act last during each betting round. The later you act, the more information you will have to help decide whether you should enter the pot or fold your hand.
There are no antes. The player to the left of the dealer button puts up a blind bet usually equal to half of the minimum bet for the first round, and the player to his left puts in a bet equal to the minimum bet. These are called "the blinds." The rest of the players do not have to put any money in the pot unless they are calling the blind bet. This means that in a 10-handed game, you will get to see eight hands for free. If you don't have a playable starting hand, you can toss it in and wait for your next hand.
Hold'em is a faster-paced game than Seven-Card Stud. You can play a hand in about two minutes. This means you will see more hands during your playing session. This allows you to be more selective, which should lead to profitability if you capitalize on the poor play of your opponents.
Please Note:Most poker players are, in fact, poor players.
The use of five community cards, called "board" cards, means that more players can play. A full game will have 10 or sometimes 11 players. Since many players will enter a hand, there is a potential for bigger pots in Hold'em.
There are a wide variety of hands that can be made from the five community cards and the player's two pocket cards. All of the players are using 71 percent of the same cards to make their hands. This means that there is no way to immediately determine who has the biggest hand. When you are playing Stud, if you saw that your opponents had two aces showing, you could determine if he had you beat and then fold. Since this is not the case in Texas Hold'em, more players will stay in the hand longer, adding to the total size of the pot.
In a low-limit $3/6 game, there could be $30 in the pot before the first community cards are revealed. It is not uncommon to see pots in the $50 to $100 range. In this game, if there were five players entering the pot and staying to the end, making minimum bets with no raising, the pot would be $90. You can afford to be selective in your starting hands because it is possible that winning just one hand can cover the cost of your blind bets for the entire evening.
You always know how the strength of your hand stacks up against the best possible hand during each betting round. A pair of aces is the best two-card starting hand. This probably changes once the first three community cards are flopped and again when the fourth and then the fifth cards are turned over.
You can tell the best possible hand by looking at the board cards. Although it is not certain that one of your opponents will actually have the best hand, you can assess the strength of your hand in relation to the best theoretical hand and determine if you have a chance of winning the pot. This is known as "reading the board" and will be discussed in detail later in this book.
The most compelling reason to play Texas Hold'em is that you are choosing a game that can be profitable for a player who takes the time to learn how to make the correct decisions. It's that simple.
Know Your Limits
There are several variations of Texas Hold'em, and they are determined by the betting structure. Limit and no-limit games are the two most popular, but you can also find the game played with pot limits and spread limits. These betting structures are also used in Omaha, Seven-Card Stud, or any other type of poker. These can be a little confusing if you have never played them before. Here is a look at the difference between the games:
Fixed-limit games have structured betting limits for each round, with a minimum and maximum bet. You cannot vary your bet from the amount of the structure, and you must bet in multiples of the amount for the limit you are playing. The limits vary with the round of play. In Hold'em and Omaha, the amount of the blinds is based on the limit of the game. Let's look at a typical $4/8 fixed-limit game.
The $4 denotes the betting limits for the first two betting rounds. The big blind would be $4, and the small blind, which is half of the big blind, would be $2. During the betting for the pre-flop and flop betting rounds, the players must bet and raise in multiples of $4. After the flop the betting limits are increased to $8, and all bets and raises must be in multiples of $8. In most casinos the lowest-limit Texas Hold'em game you can find will be $2/4, but the limits can go up to any amount.
Limit Hold'em and Omaha games are listed with the numbers reflecting the amount of the big blind and the amount of the bet after the turn, such as $4/8, $5/10, $10/20, etc.
Spread-limit games are similar to fixed-limit games, except that the players are allowed to bet within a range. Spread-limit games are most common in Stud games but have been used in Texas Hold'em. You may see a game listed as $2–$10, which means that players can bet any amount within that range at any time. The lowest number represents the amount of the big blind. Spread-Limit Texas Hold'em games are not very common these days. However in many Seven-Card Stud games, you have a spread betting structure.
In no-limit games you can bet any amount at any time. This format is the most popular for tournaments; however with the demand for no-limit cash games, many casinos are offering more of them.
When the betting structures of no-limit games are listed, the figures usually represent the amount of the small blind and the amount of the big blind. For example a $5/10 no-limit game means the small blind is $5 and the big blind is $10.
No-Limit Texas Hold'em is, of course, the most popular no-limit game in the card room, but any other poker games can be played using this format as well.
Pot-limit games are similar to no-limit games in that there is no fixed betting amount. However, the size of your bet cannot exceed the size of the pot. For example, if there is $400 in the pot, your bet cannot exceed $400.
In most games, before the flop they treat the little blind as if it were the same size as the big blind in computing pot size. A player can open for a maximum of four times the size of the big blind. For example, if the blinds are $5 and $10, a player may open with a raise to $40. (The range of options is to either open with a call of $10 or a raise in increments of $5 to any amount from $20 to $40.) Subsequent players also treat the $5 as if it were $10 in computing the pot size, until the big blind is through acting on the first betting round. The betting structures of pot-limit games are listed the same way as no-limit games, with the denomination being the amount of the small and big blinds.
No-Limit Texas Hold'em is very popular for tournaments, but Limit Texas Hold'em is the structure many players prefer to play for a cash game. When you start to play Texas Hold'em, you will want to start playing in the low-limit games, which is what will be described in this book.
As you master the game, you can move up to higher limits or even no limit if you wish, but while you are learning, you will want to limit your risk. Mastering Low- Limit Texas Hold'em can afford you the opportunity to win money on a consistent basis. If you follow these guidelines, you will know more about playing the game than most of the other players at the table. Many of your opponents in low-limit games will be at the table for the action and the entertainment of playing casino poker; you will be there to win money — their money!CHAPTER 2
How to Play Texas Hold'em
The rules of the game are fairly easy to learn. Limit Hold'em has structured betting, and the lowest limit you will find in most casinos is a $2/4 or $3/6 game. Other limits you may find are $5/10, $10/20, or higher. I will be using the $3/6 game as an example in this book. That means the minimum bet is $3 during the first two rounds of betting and the minimum bet is $6 during the last two betting rounds. These same limits are used when you raise as well.
Since the casino supplies a dealer, one player must be the "designated dealer" who will act last during the betting rounds. A disk or "button" is used to identify the dealer, and this is rotated to the left after each hand. Unlike Stud, all the players do not ante each round. Blind bets are posted to generate a starting pot.
To start a new hand two "blind" bets are put up or "posted." The player immediately to the left of the player with the dealer button puts up or "posts" the small blind, which is approximately half the minimum bet. Since there are no 50Â¢ chips, the small blind for the $3/6 game is $1. The player to the left of the small blind posts the big blind, which is equal to the minimum bet — $3 for this game. The rest of the players do not put up any money to start the hand. Because the button rotates around the table, each player will eventually act as the big blind, small blind, and designated dealer. It will cost each player $4 every time the deal makes a complete rotation around the table.
After the blinds are posted each player is dealt two cards facedown with the player on the small blind receiving the first card and the player with the dealer button getting the last card.
The first betting round begins with the player to the left of the big blind putting in $3 to "call" the blind bet, putting in $6 to "raise" the big blind, or folding his hand.
The betting goes around the table in order until it reaches the player who posted the small blind. That player can call the bet by putting in $2 since a $1 bet was already posted. The last person to act is the big blind. If no one has raised, the dealer will ask if they would like the option. This means the big blind has the option to raise or just "check."
By checking, the player does not put in any more money. A rookie mistake sometimes occurs here. Because the blind is a live bet, the player with the big blind has already put his bet in. I have seen some players throw their cards in, not realizing that they are already in the hand. Another rookie mistake is betting or folding your cards when it is not your turn. You must wait your turn before you act.
After the first betting round is completed, the dealer will "burn" or discard the top card on the deck. This is done to make sure no one could have accidentally seen the top card. Three cards are dealt and turned faceup in the middle of the table. This is known as the "flop." These are community cards used by all the players. Another betting round begins with the first active player to the left of the designated dealer button. The minimum bet for this round is also $3.
When the betting round after the flop is completed, the dealer burns another card and turns a fourth card faceup in the middle of the table. This is referred to as the "turn." The minimum bet after the turn is now $6 and begins again with the first active player to the left of the button.
Following the betting round for the turn, the dealer will burn another card and turn a fifth and final card faceup. This is called the "river," and the final betting round begins with $6 being the minimum bet. There is usually a three- or four-raise maximum during all betting rounds, except if the play becomes heads-up with two players. Then the raises are unlimited.
To determine the winner, the players may use any combination of their two hole cards (either one or both) and the five cards on the board to form the highest five-card hand. In some rare cases, the best hand will be the five cards on board. In that case the active players will split the pot. A sixth card is never used to break a tie.
The five community cards are referred to as the "board." Unlike Seven-Card Stud, all the players use the same board cards. Because of this you don't have to remember cards that were folded by other players.
Although the game looks deceptively simple, there is a lot of strategy involved. Your position in relation to the designated dealer button is important in deciding which beginning hands you play. It is also important to learn how to read the board to determine the best possible hand.
Please Note:In Texas Hold'em you must learn the three Ps — Position, Power, and Patience.
You need to be aware of your position when deciding which starting hands to play. You want to play powerful starting hands for that position, and you need the patience to wait for these hands. These will all be covered in the following chapters.
But first let's look at the hierarchy of poker hands:
Hierarchy of Poker Hands
Royal Flush: This is the best poker hand. Ten (T), Jack (J), Queen (Q), King (K), and Ace (A) of the same suit.
Straight Flush: Five cards of the same suit that are in sequence.
Four of a Kind: Four cards of equal rank, such as Qc, Qh, Qd, Qs.
Full House: Three cards of equal rank and two other cards of equal rank (three of a kind and a pair), such as 8, 8, 8, 5, 5.
Flush: Any five cards of the same suit, such as As, Ts, 9s, 7s, 5s.
Straight: Five cards of mixed suits in sequence.
Three of a Kind: Any three cards of equal rank.
Two Pair: Two cards of equal rank and two other cards of equal rank.
One Pair: Two cards of equal rank.
Excerpted from Everything Casino Poker by Frank Scoblete, Bill "Ace-1100" Burton. Copyright © 2013 Frank Scoblete. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.