The game of poker has many variants, but they all follow a pattern of play which are essentially very similar and generally use the same ranking of the cards. Amongst these differing versions are: straight poker, stud poker, draw poker and community card poker, with the most popular of the latter mentioned interpretation being the extremely popular Texas Holdem. It’s origins can be traced back to very early 20th century in…you’ve guessed it – Texas!
The game remained in and around the state until the late 1960’s, when a group of local gamblers took it up to Las Vegas and gave it an introduction, which saw it initially become a fixture at the downtown Golden Nugget casino, before arriving on the strip several months later. Within a few years Texas Holdem had become the main event at the annual World Series of Poker event at Brinion’s Horseshoe casino.
At the start of a game – played by anything up to 10 people – the dealer will invite bets from the 2 players immediately to his left and these are what are known as small and big ‘blinds’. Their purpose is basically to ensure that there is money on the table for each round of cards. For the most part, the big blind will be twice that of the small, but both will be token stakes.
The Texas Holdem game can then begin in earnest, with the dealer delivering 2 cards, face down, to all the players. The 3rd player to the dealer’s left then makes the first action, where they can do 1 of 3 things: either fold, call or raise. If they fold their hand, they withdraw from that particular game; or they might call, where they would wager the minimum chip necessary by matching the highest previously made; or if they’ve been dealt a promising couple of cards they could raise, and place a higher number of chips. At the end of each round of betting in the Texas Holdem game, all bets are placed into the main pot.
The dealer then proceeds to place 3 cards, face up, in the centre of the table, this move is called ‘the flop’ and these cards are shared by all the players still remaining in the Texas Holdem game – hence them being referred to as the community cards. The person to the immediate left of the dealer then goes first and he can either check, where he doesn’t have to wager, but stays in contention; or he bets again. Then, in a clockwise direction, each player will either fold, call or raise.
This process is repeated for the 4th and 5th community cards known as ‘the turn’ and ‘the river’, respectively. Then whoever remains in the Texas Holdem game turns over their cards to see who takes the pot in ‘the showdown’. Very often the river card can completely change the dynamics of the game and somebody can come from off the pace to steal the pot.
Without doubt, there is more luck involved than skill, but thanks mainly to TV and the internet, Texas Holdem has surged in popularity in recent years, and continues to do so. Indeed, the 2006 James Bond movie – Casino Royale, replaced the game of Baccarat – which featured in the original novel – with the game of Texas Holdem, to give it a more modern slant; guaranteeing 007 a ‘full house’!