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Poker Masterclass - Lesson 1-ii, Setting up a game.

Jan 13 2007, 01:01 AM (Post #1)
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Lesson 1-ii - Setting up a game.

In the previous Lesson, we mentioned the game this Masterclass is based around - No Limit Texas Hold 'Em. But what does that name mean exactly, and how do you go around playing it?

Well, let me first explain the "No Limit" part of the title. "No Limit" means that you can bet as much as you like, whenever you like! As will be explained, this gives this particular variety of poker both the skill require to win, and also the artistic flair that has made it so popular in recent years.

There is also "Limit" and "Pot Limit" variants of the Hold 'Em game, but these will be described further in Lesson 8.

The "Texas" aspect, of course, is down to lore describing the first game of this Hold 'Em variant having taken place in the state of Texas. However, most people simply refer to the game as "No Limit Hold 'Em", "No Limit Holdem" or just "NLHE". For the rest of this Masterclass, I will also refer to the game as "NLHE".

Finally, there is "Hold 'Em". There is no real reason for this being the title of the game, although it is probably down to either the player having two 'personal' cards to hold and keep to themselves, or down to the way the five 'community' cards are dealt out, spaced apart by betting periods.

Anyway, the essential thing you need to know about NLHE is this - there is no limit on how much you can bet - you can bet as much as you want whenever it is your turn, and you are given two personal cards to keep and there are a further five community cards dealt face-up for all to see.


So, now you know the name, what's the game?

Well, NLHE is typically a game played with 2 to 10 people. Although you could theoretically play with up to 23 players, 10 is generally the optimum amount.

NLHE is played with one standard deck of 52 cards, and as previously described, Aces are generally high (unless in a Straight, from A to 5), all the suits are of equal value and Jokers are not used. Also, "wildcards" are not used in NLHE, although they are used in some variants of the game.

So, you have your players, you have your cards, what do you need next? Well, for starters you need some form of points system. This will be explored further in the next Lesson, but for now just be aware that you will have a pile of "chips" which are worth a certain amount of real money.

So, we will take a typical game with four people (yourself and three opponents) and a dealer, and go through how the game is played.



(for lesson 1-iii):

First, the dealer will shuffle the deck. This may involve various tricks and techniques, depending on the quality of the dealer stongue.gif anyway, the dealer will then deal one card to each person - the highest card gets a special chip called "The Dealer Button" or simply "The Button".

The person to the left of the button will put a certain amount of chips (called the "Small Blind") into the middle of the table (called "the pot"). The person to his left hand side will then put in an amount which is double the "Small Blind", called the "Big Blind".

(The reasons why will be explained later. Just trust me for now!).

In this example, we will say the Small Blind was 2c and the Big Blind was 4c.

Okay, so there is now one person with "the Button", and 6c worth of chips in the pot. Now the dealer will deal each person two cards. These are your own personal cards, which no-one else can see!

You take a look at your cards, and decide based on the card rankings described in the first Lesson whether they are good or not, and just how good they are!! The ranking of these starting cards will be described later ssmile.gif

For now, everyone has two cards and the betting can begin! This is called the first "round" of betting.

Everyone here has got three options:

- to call
- to raise
- to fold

Calling is simply matching any bet which has already been made. As the Big Blind has already made a 'blind' bet, the person to his left is first to go. He can either:

- call the big blind, by betting 4c
- raise the big blind, by betting anything from 8c up to his entire stack of chips! (Remember, this is called No Limit for a reason!)
- fold his cards, bet nothing, throw them away, and take no more particular hand of the game

We will say that this person (Person A) has decided to bet 8c.

Now, the person to his left (the Button) can either:

- call the 8c
- raise any amount from 12c plus
- fold his cards and lose nothing

We will say this person decides to fold.

Now, the person to his left (the Small Blind) can either:

- call the 8c (as he has already betted 2c, this person only needs to bet another 6c)
- raise any amount from 12c plus
- fold his cards and lose the 2c Blind

We will say this person decides to also call, and puts a further 6c into the pot.

Finally, the person to his left (the Big Blind) now goes. He can either:

- call the 8c (by betting a further 4c on top of his Blind)
- raise any amount from 12c plus
- fold his cards and lose the 4c Blind

He too calls the 8c. There is now 24c in the pot, and the first round of betting is over!


Now, the dealer will generally discard a card from the top of the deck. This is called "burning" and is an anti-cheating practise. But you don't need to worry about this.

The main thing is, the dealer will now deal three cards face-up, for all to see, in the middle of the table next to the pot/pile of chips. These are the first of the five "community" cards, which all the players can use. This is called "the Flop".

Now, better resumes again, starting with the Small Blind. He now has pretty much the same actions:

- to check
- to bet
- to fold

Checking means to bet nothing, and pass action over to the next person for free.

(to be continued - I am too tired to finish tonight, and I need to re-jig this anyway to make it read easier stongue.gif any comments or suggestions so far would be appreciated ^_^!;;)
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