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Playing Cards
Prior to the game, a pack of 52 playing cards will be used; these will either be made of paper or plastic. It is good etiquette to play with a 'plastic' deck. The reason for this is simple. During the game, the cards can get worn-out pretty easily and the edges of the cards can split with paper cards. In this case, it is much easier to cheat- if players take note of how the cards are being slightly disfigured; and of course they can use this to their advantage and take your money. Plastic cards are durable, stay clean, don't deform as easily and last a lot longer than paper cards. So, it's better to use plastic cards and be safe.  

Before the Game Starts
Before the game starts the blinds must be decided. What are blinds? Well in Hold'em their are two blinds. One is called the small blind (which is half of the big blind), and the other is called the big blind.  Blinds make up the minimum bet to play a round of Hold'em and aim at committing people to play. For example, if the small blind is $1, than the big blind would be $2- this is a common figure for friendly cash games at home or casinos. In this situation the average pot (this is the term used to describe the total amount of betting money in the center of the table) could average at $15-$20 per round. If it is a house game, usually people together will decide how much the blinds will be. If you are playing in a casino, the blinds will be pre-set. (*Note: If you're about to go play poker at a casino for the first time, most pros would recommend buying in for fifty times the big blind.  This way you have room to play.  If you've got six hundred dollars you might want to choose the game set for 3 and 6 dollar blinds.  If you have more then you could push the other players around for a while but it makes you more vulnerable to giant losses.) 

Why are blinds used in Hold'em? Blinds are used in Hold'em to make sure that people play. They are made at a set amount which are negotiated prior to playing or pre-set. If there were no blinds, then players would be folding every hand until they had great cards. No blinds in  Hold'em would make the game less competitive and also less fun.  

What do the blinds tell poker players? The blinds tell poker players a number of things: 1) How much money people are willing to gamble with. 2) The level of your competition. 3) How much money you may need to play with. 4) If the environment is friendly or highly competitive. By having this information players need to decide where they fit in.  For instance, let's say that the blinds are $1 for the small blind and $2 for the big blind. Then this game is going to be quite friendly and you would be looking at buying in with $30-$40 (with pots averaging $15-$20 per round). If the blinds are set at $5 as the small blind, and $10 for the big blind- then the game will be highly competitive. You would expect much larger pots ranging from anywhere between $50-$150 easily. In that situation, if you bought in with $30 you would certainly lose your money and wouldn't be able to give the other players any competition- as they would just dominate you with their large chip stacks.You would be needing to buy in with at least $500 to be competitive. If the blinds seem too high, and your new to poker- then you shouldn't play games with big blinds. Instead stick to the games with small blinds. 

What is a buy-in or a re-buy? A buy-in is a poker term used to describe the action of putting money onto the table to buy 'chips' which you will use to play the game with. For example, Bob buys-in for $30. He will give $30 to the dealer if it is at a casino, and the dealer will give him the equivalent value in chips. In this case, it will be most likely 30 chips with a value of $1 each. If the game is inside a friends' house, then good etiquette is to give that money to the friend whose house you are playing at, called the 'host'. Then the host will give the equivalent value in chips to the player. A re-buy happens when a player loses all of their chips but they want to continue playing. The player will give more money to obtain more chips, so that they can keep playing.  

Texas Hold'em Game
The game can be broken up into 4 sections: 
1) Pre-Flop
2) The Flop 
3) The Turn 
4) The River 

Pre-Flop Hold'em
The game starts with two cards dealt downwards to all players starting from the dealer's left; one to each player in two rounds. The player immediately to the dealer's right must post a bet half of the minimum. This is called the 'small blind.' The next player to the left has to bet the minimum, this is called the 'big blind.' The next player to the left is the first to act, he is the first player that can decide what to do. He looks at his cards; he can bet the minimum bet, he can raise usually double the big blind or he can fold. In order, to his left, all players have this option until the big blind comes back around. If someone has raised the bet over the big blind then every player has the choice to match that bet, raise on top of the initial raise or fold. 

The Flop in Hold'em
Once every player has an equal amount of chips in the center of the table, which is called the 'pot.' Then, the dealer deals one card face-down, called a 'burn card' and three cards face-up. Now, the player who originally posted, or bet, the small blind and is immediately to the left of the dealer is 'first-to-act'. He can check {that means forfeit his right to act} or bet {the minimum bet is at least the size of the big blind}. If he checks, then play continues to the left with each player having the same options. If someone bets then each player gains the option of folding, or forfeiting the money they have already placed in the pot, and the opportunity to win. They do this by throwing their cards into the pot face-down.  

The Turn in Hold'em
Once every player has an equal amount of chips in the center of the table. Then, the dealer deals one card face-down and one card face-up, which is called the 'turn card.' Now, the player who originally posted, or bet, the small blind and is immediately to the left of the dealer is 'first-to-act', again. He can check or bet. If he checks, then play continues to the left with each player having the same options. If someone bets then each player gains the option of folding, or forfeiting the money they have already placed in the pot, and the opportunity to win. Once every player has an equal amount of chips in the center of the table. 

The River Hold'em
Then, the dealer deals one burn card face-down and one card face-up, called the 'river card.'  Now, the player who originally posted, or bet, the small blind and is immediately to the left of the dealer is 'first-to-act', again. He can check or bet. If he checks, then play continues to the left with each player having the same options. If someone bets then each player gains the option of folding, or forfeiting the money they have already placed in the pot, and the opportunity to win. Once every player has an equal amount of chips in the center of the table, then, the action is completed, all active players can turn over their cards and the winner is revealed.  

Remember that in this game, their are five community cards which all people can see and use (the flop, the turn and the river). Players have also been dealt two cards, making a total of seven cards. Players aim to make the highest hand with their five highest cards. If you are unsure about what the hand ranking order is, please refer to the downloadable chart: http://www.partypoker.com/how-to-play/new-to-the-game/basic-poker-rules/starting-hands.html




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