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Basics of Gameplay

There are usually 7-10 people at each table, with one player acting as the dealer. Traditional poker rankings apply where a Straight Flush is the highest possible hand and high card is the lowest. In a casino, all hands are dealt by a casino dealer. A dealer "button" (a small plastic disc) is used to represent the dealer and is rotated clockwise after each hand is dealt. Games are usually labeled by their betting structure. In a $5-$10 fixed limit game, the first two betting rounds are $5 (the lower fixed bet) and the last 2 betting rounds are $10 (the higher fixed limit bet). When a player has less than the betting amount left, the player has the option of going "all-in" and can only collect up to the amount of the all-in bet from each player that remains in the hand.

Antes/Blinds
Most Hold’em games use 2 blind bets in lieu of antes. The person sitting to the left of the dealer is the small blind and puts in about 1/2 the lower fixed bet (in a $5/$10 game it would be between $2 and $3). The big blind, the person to the left of the small blind, puts in the full lower fixed bet amount (i.e. $5). After the initial 2 cards are dealt, betting then begins to the left of the big blind. When the betting gets back to the small blind, the player has the option to call the remainder of the bet (the remaining 1/2 bet) along with any raises, raise or fold. The big blind will have the option of checking (if the pot wasn't raised) or raising.

Betting
Most games are fixed limit, so there are 2 betting amounts. The early fixed bet is one amount (i.e. in a $5/$10 game, the early fixed bet is $5) for the first two rounds (initial deal of cards and after the first 3 community cards are dealt). Then for the last 2 betting rounds, the amount goes higher (usually double, i.e. in a $5/$10 game, the later fixed bet is $10). During a betting round, you can only Check, Bet (the fixed amount), Call, or Raise (the fixed amount). Most games have a 3 raise limit per round (bet, raise, raise, raise).

Gameplay
After the blinds have posted their bets (in a $5/$10 game there would be about $8 in the pot) each player is dealt 2 cards (face down). Then a round of betting begins to the left of the big blind. 3 community cards are then dealt. This is knows as the Flop. Another betting round occurs starting to the left of the dealer. Then a fourth community card (the Turn) is dealt and a betting round occurs with the higher fixed limit. And finally a fifth and final community card (the River) is dealt, and the last betting round occurs.

Showdown
After the 5 community cards are dealt, the players remaining make the best 5 card hand they can with either both, one or none of their down cards along with the 5 community cards.

Basic Strategy
You want to make sure that your first two cards are capable of being the best at the end of the hand. Because there are usually 10 people at a table and you are only required to post your blind bets once a rotation, you can go 10 hands and only have to pay 1 and a half bets (the two blinds) if you fold every time.The basic premise behind starting hands is they should either be a high pair or have a flush, a straight or both possible. So suited cards (both of the same suit) and connecting cards (sequential cards, sequential with 1-3 gaps) are desirable in addition to pairs. Most people will fold unless their first two cards are worth being played or to avoid being viewed as a tight player (only plays the best hands). In early position (close to the dealer), you want to play stronger hands since you don't know if someone will later raise you and force you to place 2 bets. In later position (further from the dealer), you can play weaker hands if no one has raised since there are few or no players left behind you to raise (and force you to place more bets).




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