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How to Play Texas Holdem Poker Part II

It should not come as a much of a surprise that the final stage of play in the game of Texas Hold’em is called the showdown. What else would you expect? After all, this game was invented in a state famous around the word for being the home of six-shooters, ten-gallon hats and gunslingers. In the classic Texan mindset, problems are not solved by way of bartering, semantics or complex, multifaceted negotiations. Heck, no. If you don’t see eye-to-eye with some ornery critter, the best way to solve the situation is to yell “Draw”! and blow him to a higher plane of consciousness.

Obviously, not all the fine citizens of the Lone Star state actually approach common disputes in such a violent fashion. That’s just a gross stereotype based upon the early history of the Wild West, plus lots of pulp novels and B-movies and some recent political events. However, there’s no denying that in the game of Texas Hold’em, a ”take no prisoners” attitude is absolutely essential to ensure success. Which brings us back to the fact that Hold`em games almost always end with a showdown.

Before we can explore the showdown in depth, it would be wise to take a look at the different betting structures leading up to it. These can vary quite a bit, depending on a host of factors. When playing in a casino (whether it be brick and mortar or online) it is common to use a fixed limit and two blinds. In most forms of tournament play, a professional dealer who is not actually involved in the game is responsible for dealing the cards. A dealer button is used to represent the player in the dealer position. This dealer button rotates clockwise, changing the position of the dealer after each hand.

When playing for fixed-limit stakes, the limit for the first two rounds of betting is called a small bet, while the limit for the third and fourth betting rounds is called a big bet. More often than not, the big bet is double the amount of the small bet, which keeps calculations nice and simple so your mind can focus on more pressing matters as the game heats up.

The no-limit form of Texas Hold’em is also extremely popular among pro’s and amateurs alike. This type of game is typically played with small and big blinds. The big blind is usually twice the small blind. In tournament play, the blind structure periodically increases as the tournament progresses.

When playing a No-Limit game, any player has the option of wagering any amount above the minimum bet. The minimum raise is the amount of the last bet or raise. If a player wagers all of the chips that he has on the table, this is called going “all-in”. If another player wants to call the bet, but doesn’t have enough chips on the table to do so, he or she may call for the amount of chips he has in front of him. The original bettor then takes back the part of his bet that exceeds the amount of the call, unless there are other players also in the hand who call the bet, in which case a side pot is created between the players matching the entire bet for the amounts in excess of that matched by the caller with the fewest chips.

A third way to structure the betting in Texas Hold’em is to play a pot-limit game. This style of play lets bettors raise up to an amount equal to the size of the whole pot before the raise. As you can imagine, pot-limit games can become extremely wild in a short period of time, and players who do not have the cards (or the sheer nerve to hang in) will often fold early.

All of these different betting structures lead up to the “big enchilada” of any Texas Hold’em game: the showdown. In the third and final installment of this three-part series, that’s exactly what we’ll look at. Hang in there, it only gets more fun.

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