Despite online pokies being today’s most sought-after casino games, old-school card games are still up there in most online operator’s top lists. Poker, however, is one heck of a special casino game with especially the Texas Hold’em variant sticking out of the rest of the card game at any lobby.
Texas Hold’em is available in both online poker clients and live dealer casino lobbies whilst the live tournaments in brick-and-mortar settings are of course for those wanting the ultimate experience. New Zealand is no exception and Kiwis are known for their passion for online poker, and live poker, with a special preference for Texas Hold’em.
Whenever and wherever you want to play Texas Hold’em for the first time, you’ll clearly first need to learn how to play it which means extra attention to the basic rules and of course the different poker hands. This how-to-play Texas Hold’em guide is meant for absolute beginners who are new to the game, but determined to make the best possible poker hand. On the whole, this is a simple poker variant, but it’s everything but an easy card game. Here is all you need to know about the game to be able to play your first poker hand.
Table of Contents
About The Game of Texas Hold’em
Texas Hold ’em is by far the most popular poker variant in NZ online casinos which is mainly thanks to mass exposure of the game on media such as television, literature, and of course, the rapid rise of internet casinos. At the time, the numerous variants of the poker games all had to step back as Texas Hold’em dominated the scene and replaced all other variants. Texas Hold’em was also the version played (in the no-limit betting form) for the internationally televised main WSOP event as well as the World Poker Tour. Both tournaments are still played today and remain the most popular of their kind.
After ‘Black Friday’ in April 2021, the US Department of Justice ordered three of the country’s biggest poker platforms to seize activities which led to a shutdown of these websites. This led to less international attention for the poker game with the industry recovering again post-2010 as other countries started legalizing online gambling and poker made its comeback. In recent years, there has been an extra boost thanks to live versions of Texas Hold’em with live dealer casinos giving the Texas Hold’em game another boost.
Overview Of How To The Play Texas Hold’em Game
|Goal||Poker players will need to turn to place their bets. In the game of poker, this happens both before and after each card is revealed by the dealer. The idea is to make the best combination of 5 cards that can be chosen from 2 hole cards and 5 community cards.|
|Card Values in Texas Hold’em||
● Royal Flush: 5 cards of the same suit, which are ranked ace through ten.
● Straight Flush: 5 cards of the same suit, consecutively ranked.
● 4-of-a-Kind: stands for 4 cards of the same rank (e.g. 4 aces).
● Full House: 3 cards of the same rank + two more cards of the same rank
● Flush: This hand stands for 5 cards of the same suit.
● Straight: 5 cards ranked in sequence (e.g. 8, 7, 6, 5, 4).
● 3-of-a-Kind: stands for 3 cards of the same rank (e.g. J, J, J).
● 2 Pairs: 2 cards of the same rank + 2 cards of the same rank (e.g. J, J, 5, 5)
● One Pair: 2 cards of the same rank (e.g. 6, 6)
● No Pair: basically, nothing, 5 unmatched cards
How To Play The Texas Hold’em Game
The objective of a game of Texas Hold’em is to get the most out of all your 7 cards by picking the 5 most valuable ones. There are a few elements that make this card game different from all other casino games out there:
- Players can ‘bluff’, tricking other players into folding better poker hands.
- Every player at the table is dealt two cards. This always happens to face down and is referred to as ‘hole cards’.
- 5 or more playing cards are dealt face up. These so-called face-up cards represent the game’s ‘community cards’. Each participant is free to make use of these community cards.
- In poker, this is done in combination with the hole cards although the player sitting at the table is not necessarily obligated to make use of these hole cards. This is done with the final objective to create the best-scoring 5-card hand.
The poker game is known for its different phases which make the game extra exciting which we’ll briefly touch upon below. The 5 previously mentioned community cards are handed out in the following three phases:
- The Flop: Stands for the first 3 community cards, these cards are dealt face-up.
- The Turn: Stands for the 4th community card, these cards are dealt face-up.
- The River: Stands for the 5th and last community card, these cards are dealt face-up.
As with most other poker variants, the goal is to create five-card poker hands by making use of the best five cards out of the 7 total cards available. This basically means that one has 2 hole cards and 5 community cards that are combined in order to get to the best possible combination. There is a certain level of flexibility here as one can combine the hole cards and the community cards in such a way that can decided by the player.
The idea behind poker is therefore fairly easy, or at least, it sounds easy if we may say: in Texas Hold’em you can do whatever makes you form the best 5-card hand. Some would say, however, that learning how to play Texas Hold’em is difficult, whilst others find it a walk in the park. The truth lies somewhere in the middle as this will depend on your experience with other poker variants.
In comparison with other poker games out there, Texas Hold’em is relatively easy, but in comparison with other casino games that require fewer skills and are based on randomness, poker as an umbrella game of chance, is definitely considered rather tricky, we have to say. This also explains why it is often considered a game of skills, rather than a game of chance as practice and expertise do make a difference here. Whatever group you belong to, you will most likely agree on the fact that the high number of possible combinations can make it an extremely complex casino game, especially when you get to the pro levels. Here is how to get started at the bottom level.
The Button is played clockwise around the poker table. This basically means that the action starts to the left side of the croupier’s button which is meant to decide who is the dealer. The player sitting in the clockwise position as seen from the button is also the one who posts the ‘small blind’. This is also the first forced bet whilst the participant immediately clockwise from the small blind is the one who posts the so-called ‘big blind’. The rest of the game takes place around the table in clockwise direction until every participant has received 2 starting cards.
In the most popular variant of the poker game, the player who is referred to as ‘on button’, or the last active player close to the button will also receive the last action. It is important to point out here that the button in this phase doesn’t only decide who posts the small and the big blinds, but it also determines where at the table the card dealing starts off.
Two specific players at the poker table will have an extra responsibility which is why they will need to post small and big blinds. Who takes care of this is decided before a new hand begins — these are forced bets. The blinds are meant to increase the entertainment level on every hand. Through the poker session, the number of participants that are still in play decreases with the stacks increasing for the ones who are sitting at the table. The blinds will therefore need to increase whilst the tournament advances.
In a cash game at poker, the blinds of the game do not change and remain the same throughout the rest of the steps. In a cash game, the player who is seated to the left of the button is also the one who posts the small blind, whilst the player to their direct left is the one who needs to take care of the big blind. The small blind represents about half of the previously mentioned big blind, but the way this is determined will depend on the live dealer casino, land-based casino, or other venue where the poker game is played.
Pre-flop: The 1st Betting Round
The pre-flop, or the first betting round as it’s often called in poker guides, happens right after each player at the poker table has received his or her two-hole cards. The first player in the poker game to make a move is the one at the table who is seated to the big blind’s left side. This spot is known as ‘under the gun’ giving them the following three options:
- The Call = Means to match the amount of the big blind.
- To Raise = Means to increase the stake.
- To Fold = Means to throw the hand away.
In the popular Texas Hold’em poker game, the minimum opening raise will need to be twice the big blind or more. For the maximum raise, the rule is that all the chips a player has in their stack can be used. This is also known as an All-in bet which clearly stands for a higher risk level as well. It is therefore important to carefully evaluate the options before a decision is made.
Once the last stake is called and the action is officially ‘closed,’ the pre-flop round comes to an end and it is time to move on to the next step. In this case, the gameplay moves on to the second betting round which is called the ‘flop’, as you’ll quickly discover below.
The Flop: The 2nd Betting Round
After the completion of the first betting round, the so-called pre-flop, the first three community cards will be dealt after which a second betting round will follow. Note that his round only considers the players who have not yet folded. From the second betting round onwards, the game will start at the first active player found on the left side of the button.
In addition to the previously mentioned options (thus to bet, call, fold, raise), players can now go ahead and ‘check’, that is, if they haven’t made use of the four betting actions. Checking stands for passing the action to the next one in the hand. In this situation, betting will go on and come to an end if the last stake or raise has been called. This situation will also close the action. Please note that in the event of every player at the table checking, the round will also be concluded.
The Turn: The 3rd Betting Round.
The turn is the third betting round which is dealt face-up. When completed, another round will take place. This round is similar to the one found during the previous street of play. In this case, players once again will have the option to either check, bet, call, fold, or raise.
The River: The 4th Betting Round
When the action has been completed for the previous turn round, the ‘river’ takes place. This is the fourth betting round of the game and is dealt face-up. As the fifth card, the river is also the last community card found in the poker game. Play in this round takes place with the active player immediately clockwise from the button. This happens with virtually the same rules applied as in the flop and turn.
The highlight of the poker game, as most Kiwis will understand. After all the poker moves have been made, the remaining players at the table with hole cards are due to show their poker hands. Based on this action, what is called ‘the showdown’, a final winner at the table will need to be determined. In the showdown, the player with the highest combined five cards is clearly the one who takes the poker pot home. The way this happens is decided according to the official poker hand rankings as we’ve shown in the table at the beginning of this guide. The exact height of the pot depends on the tournament and can vary, something leading to real money casino payments of millions of dollars.
Where To Play Texas Hold’em in New Zealand?
Once you are fully familiar with the basic Texas Hold’em rules and want to practice the game without too much pressure or exposure, we recommend you to check out carefully selected online casinos as these websites offer players from New Zealand the opportunity to engage in the poker action in both the RNG casino lobby or the live dealer casino lobby. The former is perfect for beginning players whilst the latter is a good option for New Zealanders who believe they master the skills to play for real money. If you want to practice online or simply have a preference for online casinos we suggest getting the most out of casino bonuses as these are meant to lower your financial risk and get the most out of your New Zealand dollars. Promos are a perfect way to increase your bankroll.
Other KiwiGambler Guides
This guide is meant for players who want to know more about how to play Texas Hold’em which also means that other variants have slightly different rules. In case you are looking for a poker guide for a different variant we recommend sticking to a specific guide instead. For blackjack enthusiasts, we also made sure to come up with a How To Play Blackjack Guide. The website of KiwiGambler is focused on players from New Zealand, but gambling enthusiasts from other countries are also welcome to use our guides and prepare themselves in the best possible way for their favourite game of chance.