History of Texas Hold’em

Texas Hold’em is amongst the five popular variants of the game poker. Although many people confused Texas Hold’em with regular poker, there are huge differences between the two. It is still quite popular to this day and many Texans prefer this game over other variants. However, little is known about the history and origin of the game. The popularity of this game surged in the 2000s and was also regularly discussed on the Television, internet, and popular literature. 

Objective

Like all the other variants of poker, Texas Hold’em involves individuals competing for an amount of chips or money contributed by the players themselves. The game requires the cards to be distributed randomly, which removes the control of the players over them. As a result, the objective of each player is to control the amount of money either based on the hand they are holding or on their prediction regarding what the other players are holding in addition to how they might behave. 

Furthermore, the game is divided into a series of hands. At the conclusion of each hand, the pot is usually awarded to one player. Additionally, a hand might also end at the showdown in which the remaining players show their hands and the pot goes to the highest hand. Although the highest hand is usually held by one player but in case of a tie, it can also be held by two players. 

Another way a hand can conclude is if a player has folded and abandons any claim on the pot. In such a case, the pot is awarded to the player who has not folded. Basically, the aim of the game is not to win every hand but to make the best decisions in terms of when and how to bet along with calling for a raise, call or fold. 

History

Even though little is known about the invention of Texas Hold’em but the Texas Legislature officially recognizes Robstown, Texas as the birthplace of the game dating back to the early 1900s. The game has already spread through entire Texas before making its way into Las Vegas in 1963. It did not take long for the game to spread and become popular. Soon after its introduction, it was being played in almost all the major casinos in Las Vegas. In 1967 a group of Texan gamblers and card players were playing in Las Vegas, where they stated that they had seen the game for the first time in 1959. 

However, it was only called Hold’em at the time instead of Texas Hold’em. However, according to them, the game was different in the sense that it required thinking and a thorough decision-making process. For years, the Golden Nugget Casino in Downtown Las Vegas was the only casino that was offering the game. At the time, the poker room of the Golden Nugget was literally covered with oil and sawdust. Due to its location and condition, it failed to receive top clients. 

It was in 1969 when Las Vegas professionals were invited to play a game of Texas Hold’em at the Dunes Casino, which is now demolished. While the location of the casino attracted many players including amateurs, it offered a chance to the professional players to win against them and make the game a success. It took several years before the game made its way to European Card players in the early 1980s. 

Popularity

As mentioned previously, Texas Hold’em is one of the most popular poker games in the world today. Its major share of popularity comes from its exposure to television, the internet, and popular literature. Not only has it inspired many players to join the game but a wide variety of strategy books as well that provide recommendations for proper play. 

Most of these books recommend playing only a few hands while betting and raising often with the hands one players. Experts state that Texas Hold’em saw a huge surge in popularity in the first decade of the twenty-first century due to five major reasons. First, the invention of the online poker game, the appearance of the game in film and on television, the invention of the “hole card cam”, the appearance of commercials advertising online cardrooms, and the 2003 World Series of Poker championship. 

Online Poker

Amongst television and film and literature, online poker is the biggest contributor to the popularity of Texas Hold’em. The ability to play cheaply and anonymously gives the players every reason to play with other players around the world. Most online poker games have become a great source of building relationships and also provide a gateway to relatively large tournaments. Although online poker grew in popularity from its inception in 1998 until 2003, the winning of the money makers and appearance of the game in advertisements in 2003 contributed to multiplying the revenues of the game. 

Rules

Betting Structures

If you have come across someone playing Texas Hold’em, you will observe that the game is normally played using small and big blind bets that are forced bets by two players. Antes, which are forced contributions by all players may be used in addition to the blinds especially during the later stages of the tournament play. 

A dealer button is used by the game to represent the player in the dealer position. After each hand, the dealer rotates the button clockwise changing the position of the blinds and the dealer. The player positioned on the left of the dealer usually posts the small blind and is equal to half of the big blind as well. The player positioned on the left of the small blind posts the big blind, which is equal to the minimum bet. 

When it comes to tournament poker, the blind/ante structure increases with the progress of the tournament. Once the one round of betting is done, the next round will start with the person in the small blind. When the game comes to two players only, special ‘heads up’ rules are implemented and the blinds are also posted differently. In this case, the person holding the dealer button posts the small blind while the opponent places the big blind. The dealer will act first before the flop and after the flop, the dealer acts last and continues to remain so for the remainder of the hand.

In addition to that, Texas Hold’em poker has three popular variations, limit hold ’em, no-limit hold ’em, and pot-limit hold ’em. Limit Hold’em has been the most popular amongst the three variants and is widely played in casino live-action games. In limit hold’em, the bets and raises during the first two rounds of betting must be equal to the big blind. This amount in terms of poker is called the small bet. In the next two rounds, the bets and raises must be equal to twice the size of the big blind. This amount is called the big bet. 

Play of the hand

Once the cards have been shuffled, each player gets two cards that are face down. The player in the small blind receives the first card while the player in the button seat gets the last card dealt. These are the only cards that the players get to receive individually and they will possibly be shown during the showdown, making the game a close poker game. The first hand begins with a “pre-flop” betting round with the player to the left of the big blind and continuing clockwise. 

A round of betting continues until all players have folded, pull in all their chips, or matched the amount contributed by the active players. After the pre-flop betting round, depending on the number of players taking part in the hand, the dealer might deal a flop with three face-up community cards. Then the flop is followed by a second round of betting round. This along with all the subsequent betting rounds being with the player positioned at the dealer’s left and continues clockwise. 

The Showdown

If in case a player bets while all the other players fold, then the remaining player is awarded the pot and is not required to show their hole cards. If two or more than two players remain after the final betting round, a showdown takes place. During the showdown, each player plays the best poker hand they can make using the two-hole cards and the five community cards. If the best hand happens to be shared by more than one player, then the pot is split equally between them. However, the extra chips go to the first players after the button in clockwise order. 

Strategy

When it comes to playing Texas Hold’em, most players recommend a tight-aggressive approach to play the game. This strategy involves using relatively fewer hands while betting and raising with mostly the one that does play. Even though it is a successful strategy amongst poker players but other professional players make use of other effective strategies as well. Since the game is complex and requires a strategy to overcome other players, Texas Hold’em has been studied and gained attention from academics as well. Several universities around the world have developed poker-playing programs utilizing techniques in artificial intelligence and game theory. 

Tournaments

Texas Hold’em is mostly and largely associated with poker tournaments because it is the main event of many famous tournaments including the World Series Poker’s Main Event and happens to be the most common tournament overall. Traditionally, when it comes to playing poker, the tournament is played with chips that represent a player’s stake in the tournament. 

Standard play allows all players to “buy-in” for a fixed amount and the players begin with an equal value of chips. The play continues until a player manages to accumulate all the chips or the remaining players decide to make a deal to “chop” the remaining prize pool. The money in the pool is then distributed based on the position of the players in the tournament in terms of where they finished. Generally, players tend to receive a very small amount, and most of the time they receive literally nothing.

Professional players while participating in poker tournaments tend to use different strategies, depending on the number of chips one has, the tournament’s stage, the number of chips others have, and the playing style of the opponents. While many authors suggest an aggressive playing style but some players will often prefer looser play. 

Evaluating a Hand

Apart from the game itself, the most important factor when it comes to Texas Hold’em is knowing how to evaluate a hand. Since each hand is strategically played differently, the strength of the hand will differ as well. There are several ways of evaluating a hand amongst which the most common are counting outs and using calculators. The counting out method involves counting the cards still in the deck, combined with the cards the player already has, potentially providing the player with a winning hand. Such cards are referred to as “outs” and the strength of the hand can be evaluated by determining how many outs are still in the deck. 

Final Word

Over the years, Texas Hold’em has attracted many players both online and to the casinos for professional tournaments. It is all about how strategic players are and the way each player predicts the opponent’s move. It is played by those who know when to make the right call and is also called the sensitive mind’s game for the exact same reason.