There are very few competitive activities that can involve twenty two people that don’t include protective gear for the male reproductive area and men in tasteless black and white striped shirts, throwing bits of yellow laundry about. Texas Hold’em can involve as many people as the full offensive and defensive unit of a football team, though it is usually played by only two to ten people.
Playing a Hand
Things start with each player being dealt two cards, face down. These are the player's hole cards. These are the only cards that will be dealt directly to the individual player. Because Texas Hold’em is a closed game, these cards will only be revealed during a showdown, if at all. The hand begins with a "pre-flop" betting round (“pre-flop” is simply bets after the players have been dealt their two cards). The person left of the big blind (or the player to the left of the dealer, if no blinds are used) starts the betting. Betting will continue in a clockwise manner from this starting point. After the pre-flop betting round, the dealer deals a burn card. This is traditionally placed face down in the discard pile. Once the burn card has been sent the poker version of purgatory, three community cards are dealt. These three cards will be face up. These cards are known as the “flop”. Perhaps named for the feeling players get when they combine the cards in their hands with what is on the table. Once the flop has been revealed, a second round of betting will begin. This and all subsequent betting rounds begin with the player to the dealer's left and continue clockwise. After the flop betting round ends, another card is burned, and a single community card called the turn (or fourth street) is dealt, followed by a third betting round. A final burn card is followed by a single community card called the river (or fifth street), followed by a fourth betting round. There are now five cards on the table, face up, and two cards in each players hand. Whoever hasn’t folded by the end of the fourth round of betting will participate in the showdown.
Betting in poker has sort of a “Lord of the Flys” aspect to it. Fundamentally it comes down to the last person standing winning the pot. If a player bets and all other players fold, then the remaining player is awarded the pot. In this case the winner does not need to show his hole cards. They may cruelly keep the losers wondering if they were truly beaten, or just bluffed out of their socks.
If two or more players remain after the final betting round, a showdown occurs. On the showdown, each player creates the best five-card hand they can make from the five community cards combined with the two cards in their hands. A player may use both of their two hole cards, only one, or none at all, to fashion the final five-card hand. If the five community cards form the player's best hand, then the player is said to be playing the board.
On rare occsions there will be a tie. When this happens the pot is split equally between the remaining players. Not all hands are equal though. Sometimes players will have closely valued hand that are not identically ranked. In this case Kickers are needed to break the tie.