Texas Hold’em is currently the most popular variant of poker in the world, but that wasn’t always the case. In the days of the Old West, of high-stakes games in wild southern towns, poker was all about 5 Card Draw. In fact, one of the earliest professional poker players, Wild Bill Hickok, played this variant of draw. Wild Bill actually had a hand named after him, which consisted of aces and eights. This is known as Dead Man’s Hand, as it was believed to be the hand he was holding when he was assassinated by one of the sore losers he encountered on his travels.
Where Texas Hold’em Came From
In the early years of the 20th Century, games of poker were popular with Texas ranchers, who would get together for a few drinks and play cards. They played a variant of Stud poker, but as their numbers grew and more became involved, this variant was obsolete. It just didn’t allow for large numbers of players and didn’t have the social aspects that they wanted. In fact, few variants of poker did.
So, they created their own. This game was nothing like the others in the way it was played, in the cards that were dealt and shown, and in the betting rounds. However, the card values were the same, and it was very easy to pickup and play for anyone with previous poker experience. This game came to be known as Texas Hold’em.
The Modern Explosion
Hold’em got its big break thanks to the World Series of Poker. They choose this game for their Main Event, and that, as well as the label as the “World’s Biggest Poker Tournament” and the million dollar prize money, helped to make it one of the biggest games in the world.
Most poker players make their start online, including Chris Moneymaker, who bought his way into an online qualifier for $30, and went on to scoop a prize of $2.5 million at the WSOP Main Event.
How to Play Texas Hold’em
This is a simple game, and is arguably one of the easiest variants of poker to pickup. The game plays out as follows:
- Players post blinds.
- “Hole cards” are dealt. These are dealt one at a time, and each player gets two. They should not show anyone their cards.
- A betting round takes place.
- Three community cards are dealt. Everyone can see and use these.
- A betting round takes place.
- The “Flop” is dealt. This is the fourth card.
- Another betting round takes place.
- The “River’ is dealt. This is the final card.
- The final betting round takes place.
- Cards are shown, bets are settled and the hand ends.
You also need to understand how the dealer setup works. The person with the dealer chip (not actually the dealer, as the computer or croupier takes care of that) does not post a blind, but the person to his left posts the small blind and the person to his left posts a big blind. These are small token bets, like antes.
The dealer is the last to act, and because of this he is often considered to be in the best position when it comes to betting. The person to the left of the dealer, known as “Under the Gun” (because they act first) is in what is considered to be the worst position.
To begin with, you don’t need to get too caught up in these details, but they will play a role as you progress.
Play Texas Hold’em for Real Money
There are many poker sites out there, and all are available here in Australia. But to get the most out of them and to take advantage of a number of bonuses, your best bet is 888 Poker. They offer a number of bonuses, all of which are either paid out when you signup and make your first deposit, or when you take part in certain games or tournaments:
- Welcome Bonus: 888 Poker are the only big poker room that will double your deposit, without a catch. You do not need to unlock a certain amount of player points, and you don’t need to play for a certain length of time. Just make your deposit and get your free cash.
- Free Tickets: When you join, you will also be given access to some big multi-table guaranteed tournaments known as First Depositors Tournaments. These are like free-rolls for new members, only the pot is much larger than a typical free-roll, and the field also tends to be smaller.
- No Deposit Bonus: If you want to try before you buy, you can pickup a no-deposit bonus of $20, which you can spend as and when you please. We have only ever encountered one other poker room that has given out a no-deposit bonus, and that was the UK-based SkyBet, which is not even available outside of Britain.