To Post an Ante

There are some tournaments where each player is forced to post an ante on every hand in the betting round. The ante is much smaller than either of the two blind bets. The object of the ante is to involve every player in the hand and to make the pot bigger. (In cash games, antes are not usually used.)

When the game gets to the final six players in the World Poker Tour and nine players in the World Series of Poker, the forced blind bets and the antes are so high that players cannot sit there waiting for the best hands to come. If they are short on chips, they have to play a hand even if it is not a good hand.

The Aim of Each Hand

It is obvious that the main aim of each hand is to win the pot. You do this by making the best hand at the showdown or by bluffing your rivals. You select the best five-card poker hand by using any combination of your hole cards and the community cards. Your best hand can be the combination of both, one, or both of your dealt cards with the cards in the middle.

Let's take the example of a hand in a seven card stud where you choose the best five-card combination. If a royal flush comes out as the community cards, every body remaining in the hand a royal flush because that is the best possible hand. Or if the board cards come with K Q J 10 and you have A in your hand, you have a royal flush and nobody else has one.

You can Also win by bluffing representing to your rivals that you have the best hand like A - if you bet an amount of chips where no one calls that you have them beaten.

The Four Betting Rounds

The first betting round starts immediately after the two hole cards have been dealt. The first player to act is the player immediately to the left of the Big Blind. Clockwise, the action continues with everyone acting in turn and the Big Blind being the last player to the act.

After the last player has prompted the dealer then puts three community cards i.e. the flop face up in the center of the table and then second round of betting starts. Starting with the first player to the left of the button who is still in the hand, each player who did not fold before the flop can check, call, bet, raise, re-raise or fold to bet when it is his turn to act.

The dealer then places a fourth community card i.e. the turn face up in the center of the table, followed by another round of betting. Then he deals the final community card i.e. the river, face up in the center and then there is final round of betting.

Any player can bet his entire stack of chips on any of these betting rounds. In no-limit hold'em, if a player wants to put all his chips at once, then he is said to be "All-in" and pushes all his chips into the center of the table. If the rival calls the All-in bet, the size of the bet cannot be bigger than the smallest stack of the two players.

If the player with the biggest stack loses the hand, he keeps the remaining chips in his stack. For example, player A has $10000 chips and goes all in against player B, who has $9000 in chips. Player B goes on to win the pot. Player A will still have $4000 in chips remaining in his poker hand.

How the Betting Goes

For instance, the amount of the Small Blind is $4000 and the Big Blind is $8000. The dealer has dealt two cards to each player. He has not put any of the community cards yet. The player sitting to the immediate left of the Big Blind is the first person to act. He has to match the size of the Big Blind (call) if he wants to play his cards. Here the $8000 is the least that he can bet in order to play the hand.

If he wants to raise, he must bet at least $19000 (double the amount of the Big Blind). He also can raise any amount up to the amount of chips he has in his possession. For instance, if he has $50000 in front of him, he can raise to $20000 by announcing "Raise to $20000." Or he can bet his entire $50000 by announcing "All-in."

A player who does not have enough chips to call the minimum bet can still play the hand by putting in All the chips he has left. For example if he only has $4000 in chips, he can call with everything he has by announcing "All-in."

After completing the fourth betting round, the player with the best hand wins all the chips in the middle of the table (the pot). If a player loses all his money in a cash game, he can reach into his pocket and put more money on the table. But if he loses his money in a tournament game, he is eliminated from action and must vacate his seat unless he goes broke during the re-buy period of a re-buy tournament.

The Kinds of Hands to Play

Like limit hold'em game, the best hands which can be played in no-limit hold'em games are big pairs and high cards. Two Aces, two Kings, two Queens , Two Jacks and AK are the premium hands. You would like to have a pair in your hand and then see one of your rank come on the flop. If you have two queens and another queen comes on the board, you have made three queens to start with (a set). Or if you have A K and three clubs come on the board, you have flopped an Ace-high flush, which is the best possible hand (the nuts).

If you have the A K and the J 48come one the flop, you have the nut flush draw. Then if one more club comes on the turn or on the river, you will make the nut flush. You might also flop a pair. For example the flop is K ? 6 ? 4 ? and you are having A6K. You would top pair - two kings with an Ace kicker -and the nut flush draw, which is very strong hand.

Other hands are Also playable depending upon the correct situations but the hands mentioned above are exclusively premium hands which you would prefer playing.

Determining How to Bet

It is difficult to understand why players bet a certain amount of chips. Are there are instructions or guidelines to help new players decide how much to bet? As a rule, when you are the first person to enter the pot we suggest that when you raise, you bet three to four times the size of the big blind. Sometimes you bet more than this, and other times you should bet all of your chips (move-in). We have provided a betting chart to help you decide the correct amount to bet

Reading the Board Cards

When playing hold'em, it is significant to read the board so as to determine what the possible hand is with every community card that is dealt. It is impossible, for example, for anyone to have a full house or four of a kind unless the board is paired. If you have made a straight or a flush, you can easily decide whether it is the best possible straight flush.

Ask yourself a question, "What, at this moment, is the best possible hand?" Your answer will keep on changing with every card that comes out in the middle. For example if you start with two aces in your hand, you have the nuts before the flop. Then, depending on the cards that are dealt on the flop, the value of your hand may change.

If you have two cards of the same suit in your hand and three cards in your suit come on the flop, you have made a flush, which probably is the best possible hand unless someone else has two higher cards in your suit. If the board pairs on the turn, your flush will not be the best hand because it is possible that someone else has made a full house. (However, it does not mean that the board is paired your flush is beaten.)

Let's look at the example. If you have Q Q and the flop is Q J 2 , you have the nuts on the flop. But the card on the turn and on the river might change the whole case. If another Club comes on the turn or on the river, then it is likely that someone else can draw to a flush. Or another card (such as a ten) either on the turn or on the river that makes a straight for a rival who has the KT in his hand, which would Also, beat your three kings.

An Important Consideration

The most important role in determining the value of your hand is to read the board. Understanding the value of your hand is also important in deciding whether to bet, fold, call, raise or re-raise. Folding when you think you don't have the best hand, betting the correct amount of chips when you are the first player to act, calling the opening bet and raising the suitable amount when it is the correct time are skills that are inimitable to no-limit poker. When you have mastered choosing the best hand to play, reading the board correctly, understanding the value of your hand, identifying when to bluff and deciding the right amount to bet, then you are approaching towards successful winning no-limit hold'em player.

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