Poker Lesson 05

How the betting is done in Texas hold'em
It is time to start handling the chips – whether "real" ones in a live game, or the virtual ones used in an online card room!

When playing Texas hold’em, a "dealer button" is used. This is a round plastic disc, usually white, with the word DEALER engraved. When playing in a private home game, this button rests in front of the player whose turn it is to deal right then. Once the deal is over, the button and the deck of cards are passed clockwise to the next player in turn.

If you play in a casino, the button is also circulated clockwise among the players, and the casino's dealer will deal the cards just as if the player with the button in front of him had been handling the cards. Also when playing online this is the case, the virtual dealer button circulating among the players.

In almost all forms of poker something must be placed in the pot, BEFORE even the first card is dealt. This is to force action: without something in the pot there is nothing to fight over, no crucial decisions to be taken.

There are several different methods of starting up the pot. The most common in hold'em is to use two blinds, the small blind and the big blind respectively. As a rule, the big blind is twice the amount of the small blind. Using this common method, the player closest to the left of the dealer button puts in for example 1 dollar (yen, euro, pound...) in chips, while the player one further step to the left puts in 2 dollars. Not until this has been done, and the "pot has been started", are the first cards dealt. (This is usually done automatically in an online card room: click "Auto Post Blinds", and you will not have to think about it before every hand, nor will the software prompt you every time.)

Naturally, the amount of the blinds is dependent on how high you want to play! You yourself decide whether you want to sit in a $0,25-$0,50 game or a $300-$600 game, or on any level in between.

The other players, beginning with the one immediately to the left of the player who put in the big blind, now faces (after looking at his or her two starting cards) the classic decision in poker:
-call, or

If you fold, you discard your cards and do not take any further part in that particular hand. If you call, you must put in an amount equal to the biggest amount so far posted by any of the preceding players (meaning the amount of the big blind, at the start). If you raise, you decide to put in a higher amount than any other player has done so far.

An important rule: The betting round is not over until all players who wish to stay in the hand have put in an equal amount of chips, while all others have folded. The player with the small blind thus has to "top up" his bet, if he or she chooses to call.

Note that you are never obliged to call! Not only are you allowed to fold, but you SHOULD fold when it is your turn, IF you judge that you have only a very small chance (or no chance at all) of winning the pot. If you fold, however, all the money you have bet so far belongs to the pot, and cannot be retrieved.

That was the first betting round! In the next lesson, we shall go through the betting in the following three rounds.