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HOW TO PLAY TEXAS HOLD'EM

In Texas hold 'em, like all variants of poker, individuals compete for an amount of money called the pot. Because the cards are dealt randomly and outside the control of the players, each player attempts to control the amount of money in the pot based on the hand the player holds.

The game is divided into a series of hands or deals; at the conclusion of each hand, the pot is typically awarded to one player (an exception in which the pot is divided between more than one is discussed below). A hand may end at the showdown, in which case the remaining players compare their hands and the highest hand is awarded the pot; that highest hand is usually held by only one player, but can be held by more in the case of a tie. The other possibility for the conclusion of a hand is when all but one player have folded and have thereby abandoned any claim to the pot, in which case the pot is awarded to the player who has not folded.

The objective of winning players is not winning every individual hand, but rather making mathematically correct decisions regarding when and how much to bet, raise, call or fold. By making such decisions, winning poker players maximize long-term winnings by maximizing their expected gain on each round of betting.

Hold 'em is normally played using small and big blind bets forced bets by two players. Antes (forced contributions by all players) may be used in addition to blinds, particularly in later stages of tournament play. A dealer button is used to represent the player in the dealer position; the dealer button rotates clockwise after each hand, changing the position of the dealer and blinds. The small blind is posted by the player to the left of the dealer and is usually equal to half of the big blind. The big blind, posted by the player to the left of the small blind, is equal to the minimum bet. In tournament poker, the blind/ante structure periodically increases as the tournament progresses.

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