How to Play Online Hold’em


Hold’em: you see the professionals and aspirants play it on television. You see the poker kits as end caps at any number of retail stores. You see the online casinos and poker rooms advertising it all over the internet. Maybe you want to get in on the action, but with the exception of the occasional and casual home game of five card stud, your experience with poker (let alone Hold’em) is almost nil. Not to fear, this article is here to teach, and by the end you’ll know all about blinds, flops, and the difference between Omaha and Texas Hold’em.


The best way to explain the most essential aspects of Hold’em is to quickly walk through a hand. First, there will be a quick and dirty description of a single hand in Texas Hold’em with all the concepts explained. Following that will be a short explanation of what distinguishes Texas Hold’em from Omaha. You will be surprised how easy (and fun) all of this is, and once you know the basic rules of play you will be ready to try it out for yourself at any number of free or low limit online poker tables.


Like any other poker variant, the position of dealer rotates from one player to the next at the end of each hand; usually in a counter-clockwise motion. In online Hold’em an icon will mark the current dealer. This position is purely procedural when playing online since a random number generator is actually dealing the hand.


Every hand of Hold’em will start with the blinds. There are two blinds in a hand of Texas Hold’em, the small blind and the big blind. The two players immediately to the left of the dealer fill these two rolls. The first player is the small blind, which means she or he is forced to start the pot with a bet equal to half the table’s minimum limit. The second player is the big blind, and is forced to add a bet an amount equal to the lower limit. These two players are called the blinds because they must make these forced bets without any cards, i.e. they bet blindly into the hand.


Each player will now be dealt two cards. These two cards, depending upon with whom you are talking, are referred to as your ‘pocket’ or your ‘hole’. Your aim is to use these two cards in combination with any of the five cards the dealer will put face-up on the table throughout the course of the hand. First, however, you must decide whether to fold, check, raise, or call based upon the strength of these two pocket cards.


Once this first round of betting is complete the dealer will release the flop. The flop is the most decisive point in a game of Hold’em as it reveals three of the five cards you and the other players will need to use in conjunction with your pockets to form the winning hand. Another round of betting ensues with, as always, the player closest to the left of the dealer initiating.


After the flop, the dealer will turn over another card. This is referred to as the turn. There is another round of betting after which the dealer turns over the last of the community cards (they are called community cards because every player at the table can see them and uses three of them to form their hand). This last card is called the river, and it is here where the final round (and often a lot of re-raising) takes place. Texas Hold’em uses standard poker hand rankings, and the best hand wins the pot. The position of dealer rotates and the cycle starts again.


Omaha Hold’em is, for the most part, identical to Texas Hold’em. The essential difference is that in Omaha Hold’em every player is given four pocket cards from which they must use two in conjunction with three of the five community cards to form a hand. Texas Hold’em is usually played at limit or no limit, while Omaha Hold’em is often played Hi/Lo. Hi/Lo means that the lowest and highest hands will, in most cases, split the pot at the end of the hand.


Both Omaha and Texas Hold’em involve a great deal of practice and strategy to master. There is a lot of information and suggestion online. Be sure to take some time and reference some of it.



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