Poker Lesson 01

An introduction into Texas hold'em
Welcome to the GP Inc Poker School!

Here we will step-by-step present how poker is played, from the very basics and on upwards – and what we initially will concentrate on is Texas hold'em, the poker variant that dominates the biggest and most prestigious tournaments, such as the World Championship (WSOP), the World Poker Tour and the European Poker Tour!

The poker variant Texas hold'em, often referred to as just hold'em, derives its name from having been invented in the state of Texas, around 1910-20. According to legend this happened in a cowboy barrack, where all sixteen men who camped together wanted to be able to sit in on the same game. It is said that the ranch with this barrack was in the vicinity of Robb's Town, near the city of Corpus Christi.

After the First World War, Texas hold'em began to spread among the professional gamblers in the USA. In the 1960's hold'em stepped across the Atlantic, and gradually started being introduced at the then illegal (and in some legal) European card clubs.

How a hand in hold'em is played
Here are the basic principles for playing a round of hold'em – and if you are already familiar with this game, feel free to skip the rest and move straight to Lesson 2:

The game is played with a standard 52-card deck, no jokers. First, every player receives two cards (the hole cards) facedown; first one, and then the other. Now the first betting round begins, during which you must decide whether your cards are good enough to stay in with.

When the first betting round is over, the dealer (the person handling the deck) burns the top card (takes it off and puts it away, without any player seeing what it is) in the deck, and then places the following three cards faceup on the table, from left to right. These three cards are called the flop. Now the second betting round begins, for those players who have not folded (= thrown away their hole cards and given up, to save money) but are instead still active.

When the second betting round is finished, the dealer again burns the top card in the deck, and places the next card faceup on the table. This card is usually called the turn, sometimes also fourth street. Now the third betting round begins.

When the third betting round is over, the dealer again burns the top card in the deck, and places the next card faceup on the table. This last card is usually called the river, sometimes also fifth street. Now the fourth and last betting round begins.

If you do not fold but instead stay in all the way to the last betting round, you will now have two cards of your own from the initial deal, and five cards faceup in the middle of the table. These cards on the table are community cards, which means they are part of every player's hand! These cards on the table are also called the board.

How to put together your poker hand in hold'em
The object at the end is to have the highest five-card hand, which you choose from the seven (2+5) cards available to you. You may either

(1) use both your hole cards and any three of the cards on the table, or

(2) one of your hole cards and any four of the cards on the table, or

(3) you may ignore your hole cards altogether and let the five cards on the table be your poker hand – in rare cases, the community cards may form a full house or a flush which you cannot improve upon! This third alternative is called playing the board.

The player with the highest five-card hand (combination) of course wins the pot.

Note that there must not necessarily always be four betting rounds – the hand can be interrupted before that (even in the first betting round, before the flop!) if you bet so high that all the other players choose to fold instead of doing battle with you, thereby conceding the pot. In this case you do NOT have to show your hole cards, when you rake in the chips.

Keep in mind that a poker hand (in almost all forms of poker, with only a few rare exceptions) always consists of FIVE cards, no more, no less.
Even if including a sixth card would give you three pairs, or a six-card straight or flush, you still may not count it but are limited to five cards!