My primary interest in poker is the most common casino-offered poker game, Texas Hold'em.

In Hold'em, up to 10 players are each dealt two cards face down (their "hole cards") at which they can look. There will also be 5 cards dealt face-up ("the board") in the middle of the table which all players share. Each player makes their best 5-card poker hand from the five communal cards and their two hole cards. The game procedes as follows:

There are thus 4 total betting rounds. The most common betting structure is "fixed limit" which consists of the first two round being in increments of "the small bet" and the latter two rounds being in increments of "the big bet" which is twice the size of the small bet. Thus $4-$8 Hold'em means you can only bet/raise in $4 amounts after the first deal and after the flop, and in $8 amounts on the turn and river.

For each Hold'em hand one player is given a token ("the button") which indicates that they are the nominal dealer for this hand. In each of the four betting rounds the player to the left of the button is first to bet and betting procedes clockwise with the player on the button acting last in each of the four rounds. This is a tremendous advantage so the button rotates counter-clockwise one player after each hand.

Other than fixed limit, the two most common betting forms are pot-limit and no-limit. In pot-limit, you are allowed to bet/raise up to the total amount of money currently in the pot when it is your turn to ask. In no-limit there are no limits to how much you can bet/raise.

The World Series of Poker championship is held annually at Binion's Horseshoe in Las Vegas. This tournament costs USD$10000 to enter and is played no-limit Texas Hold'em "freeze-out" which means you are not allowed to go back for more money if you go broke. Eventually one player has all the money and is declared the winner. For those of us that can't afford the $10000 entry fee, there is the annual World Tournament which costs nothing to enter but which is played exactly as is the real World Series of Poker with each entrant playing no-limit Hold'em starting with 10000 virtual dollars. There are over 1000 entrants this year. The tournament is played by email and usually lasts from September or October until March or April.

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