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Before you place a single bet in a Texas Hold’em game, you should learn all of the Texas Hold’em poker rules.  If you are coming to Hold’em from friendly games with friends of a weekend night, you should know that online poker players are out to win money.

Furthermore, the rules of Texas Hold’em are quite different than the rules of any of the many poker variations you might play regularly with your friends.  So, join Juicy Stakes in taking a look at how Texas Hold’em differs from all other poker variations!

Players Do Not Ante in Texas Hold’em

There are two players who put money in the pot before the dealer deals the cards.  They are called the big blind and the small blind.  The big blind is always twice the small blind.  It also happens that the blinds bet last before the flop, the small blind betting before the big blind.

Why is this Important?

This is all very significant since in Texas Hold’em, a player can fold before the flop and he or she loses no money on that hand.  In order to stay in a hand, a player has to either call the big blind or raise.  The upshot of this nuance is that players who don’t raise the big blind are more likely to fold before the flop!

It also means that the further a player is from the big blind before the flop, the likelier it is that the player will fold.  This is completely opposite from games where everyone antes.  In those games, a player in an early position can simply check and maybe they will not have to bet at all in any given round.

Before the flop in Texas Hold’em checking is not allowed.  All players have to either fold, call the big blind or raise.

When Can a Player Check?

Checking is allowed and a good tactic after the flop where everyone now starts even with everyone else.  Still, in most Texas Hold’em hands, especially at higher stakes, by the time the flop comes out there will be two or occasionally three players still in the pot.

The Betting Order Changes After the Flop

Here we have to mention the “button”.  In at-home games, the button is also the dealer.  The dealer or button moves around the table after every hand.  In tournaments, there is a live dealer so a “button” moves around the table signifying the ersatz dealer.

At Juicy Stakes online poker, the “dealer” is software.  The button still moves clockwise after every hand.  The reason is that after the flop and in the two subsequent betting rounds, the first player to bet is the player closest to the button to his or her left.  So, in the betting rounds from the flop onwards, the “button” has the advantage of betting last as the betting circles the table.

Are There Any Rules about Bluffing?

There is really only one rule about bluffing: bluffing as allowed!

There is some form of bluffing in almost every hand of Texas Hold’em!

A classic example is that most books on betting in Texas Hold’em list a very short list of hole cards that a player can reasonably call or raise with before the flop.  However, many players will stay in with much weaker hole cards such as a low pair or suited cards that can also create a straight.

Every player needs to find his or her comfort level with regard to what they will bet with before the flop even in very early position.  Every time a player bets with a relatively weak hand in early position, they are bluffing.  This kind of bluffing is very common in Hold’em and also very necessary since, if a player never bluffs in early position, the times they do bet in early position everyone will know that they have a strong hand!

Bluffing Requires Observing One’s Opponents

There are just two ways to determine if an opponent is bluffing.  One is to go over the betting in the hand and see if there is any logical explanation for the betting as it played out without adding the element of a bluff.

There is a famous YouTube clip of Phil Helmuth exploding in anger at an amateur who had bet a hand  ”all wrong” causing Helmuth to lose a hand.  He berated the amateur for his illogical betting throughout the hand.

The lesson we mortals can take from this abject lesson in “whinery” is that logic does not always answer the question about what cards an opponent has in the hole.

Close Observation of Hands and Opponents

A really good opponent will hide his or her bluffs in such a way as to get you to think that a bluff is not a bluff and a big hand is a bluff!

The only way to counteract good bluffing is to know as much as you can about human nature, about bluffing in general, and about different types of opponents in poker.  We might rewrite a famous line from Hamlet: “To thine own opponents be true”!

Concentration is Not Just a Game

Players are tempted to lose concentration when they are no longer in a hand.  Before the flop, most players fold about 70% of their dealt hands.  That could represent a lot of non-concentration!

Losing concentration is a serious mistake even as maintaining a high level of concentration is very hard to do!  Still, it has to be the goal of all poker players to pay attention to every hand as it unfolds.

Paying attention is a learned quality in poker players as it is in everyone.  The best poker players pay attention even when they seem to be spacing out!

What Paying Attention Brings

Paying attention means that a player may learn something about an opponent early on in a session that he or she will be able to use to their advantage later on in the session.  The valuable YouTube clips often have a player trying to remember how an opponent played a hand previously to see if there is a kernel of useful information there.

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