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October 2017 Issue

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How to Play Texas Hold’em

By Lara Gertzen of West LA Poker

The game is Texas Hold’em.  The same one you see on TV played for millions but don’t worry.  It is also being played in family rooms for pennies.  On November 2, 2017, at our poker tournament there will be a professional dealer from West LA Poker who will do all the shuffling, dealing and making sure the chips are right. You only need to sit back, relax and play.

Each player is dealt two cards.  These are your private “hole cards” so don’t show them to anyone.  The first decision you need to make is if these two cards make a good foundation for a winning poker hand.  The good cards are easy to recognize.  High ranking cards like an ace and a king.  Or two cards the same like two 8’s.  Bad cards are easy to spot as well.  A 6 and a 9 or a jack and a deuce.  Later, when you are more comfortable you can play the middle cards like 6 or 7 of hearts.  When it is your turn, the dealer will ask if you want to continue by betting or if you want to fold and turn in your cards. 

For this example let’s say you have a king and a queen.  You like those cards and “call” or match the bet to stay in the game.  The other players who also like their starting cards will do the same and the dealer will pull all the bets into the middle.  This is the pot.  The dealer will then put the first three community cards in the center of the table.  These are called the FLOP.  You must now compare your private cards to the community cards and see if you have improved to a better poker hand.  Let’s say the flop is a king, a ten and a three.  You now have a pair of kings.  One in your hand and one on the board.  

Next there will be an opportunity to bet. These opportunities are called betting rounds. The dealer will let you know when it is your turn and you can choose to bet (put chips in the pot) or check (pass on the option to bet).  Since you have a high pair you probably want to get chips into the pot so you should bet.  You do and two other players call (match) your bet.  The dealer pulls all the chips into the middle and puts out the next community card called the TURN.  It is a nine.  Now there is a king, a ten, a three, and now a nine. You still have a high pair (kings) and now you have a straight draw.  If the final card is a jack you will have 9-10-jack-queen-king.  So even though you didn’t improve to a better hand you have more possibilities.  Remember, though, players who got this far may also have good cards.  Maybe they have a king and a ten for two pair.  It is important to look not only at what you have but also what other people might have.  You decide to bet again and this time only one player calls you. 

The dealer pulls the chips in and turns over the last community cards called the RIVER. It is another three.  Now the board has king, ten, three, nine, and three.  You have two pair.  Kings and three with a queen kicker.  These are the best five cards you can play.  The dealer starts the betting round and you decide to check (pass).  Your opponent checks as well and the dealer will instruct you both to turn over your cards.  It is the dealer’s job to read the hands and determine the winner so don’t be afraid to show your cards.  You have two pair – kings and threes with a queen. You opponent has a queen and a ten.  They have two pair as well.  Tens and threes with a queen kicker.  You have a higher two pair so YOU WIN!!

West LA Poker will be helping with the November 2, 2017 Century City Bar Association Poker Tournament. Free in-person lessons will be held at 6:30 p.m. Click here to register. 

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