A Simple Game to Play
The concept behind No Limit Texas Hold’em is deceptively simple. Each player at the table (with a maximum of 10 players per table) is dealt two “hole” cards. A round of betting ensues, and players can choose to represent the strength (or weakness) of their hands by betting, calling another player’s bet, raising that bet, or folding. Players bet with “chips” that represent various amounts of money. The total number of chips that have been wagered is referred to as the “pot.” In No Limit Hold’em, a player is allowed to bet all of his/her chips at any point in the game, regardless of the pot’s size.
When the initial round of betting is complete, the dealer turns over three cards from the deck. This three-card turn is called the “flop.” After the flop, another round of betting ensues. When this is completed, a fourth card, called the “turn” (or “fourth street”) is revealed. Another round of betting then occurs.
Finally, the fifth and final card (called the “river”) is revealed to the players. A final round of betting occurs, and the remaining players turn their hole cards over. The players combine their hole cards with the “community” cards on the table to make the best 5 card poker hand. If two players tie for the top hand, they split the pot, otherwise the player with the best hand wins all the chips that have been wagered.
While this concept seems straightforward enough, several external elements go into the betting process. No Limit Hold’em is as much about the betting process as it is about the cards the players are holding. Players may choose to misrepresent the strength of their hands, either by “bluffing” (pretending their cards are more powerful than they actually are) or “slow playing” (not betting with a strong hand until other players have bet aggressively).
The main difference between playing poker online and in person has to do with “reading” other players at the table. Traditionally, skilled players scrutinize the mannerisms of other players at their table in order to pick up on any “tells” that their opponents reveal. These tells can subtly reveal whether other players are bluffing or actually have a strong hand. Of course, when playing online, it is nearly impossible to “read” other players as they cannot be seen in person. It is for this reason that Internet poker players are forced to adapt to a style of play that differs from traditional poker methodology. The fact that an Internet player beat some of the best live players in the world is a testament to the aggressive nature of play that online poker demands.