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Guide to Texas Hold’em

Texas Hold’em, or simply Hold’em for short, is by far the most popular form of poker. On this page, we’ll be looking at Hold’em cash games, as opposed to tournaments. We’ll talk about everything from the rules of the game, including Hold’em hand rankings, to the various betting limits available.

1. What is a Cash Game?

In any form of poker, a cash game is one involving chips with an actual monetary value. In a poker tournament, everyone starts with the same number of chips and whoever is left with them all wins the top prize. But in a cash game, you can buy as many chips as you like and leave whenever you see fit.

Rake

Poker rooms rarely spread a cash game for free. Most will take a cut of any pot over a certain size, in order to cover their running costs. This is known as the rake. It differs from a tournament entry fee, which is a fixed sum taken at the start of the event.

2. Betting Limits

Texas Hold’em comes in three different forms. The most popular, as seen in many of the world’s top tournaments and the biggest cash games, is No Limit Hold’em. But Limit versions exist too.

  • Fixed Limit Hold’em: Sometimes called small bet poker, players can only bet a fixed amount each time. Pre- and post-flop, that amount is equal to the Big Blind. While on the turn and river, it doubles. So if the game is 2 VPP/4 VPP Limit Hold’em, the blinds are set at 2 VPP and 4 VPP and the bet limits are 4 VPP and 8 VPP.
  • Pot Limit Hold’em: Unlike in small bet poker, in Pot Limit, you can bet as much as you like. As long as it doesn’t exceed the total amount in the pot, that is. So naturally as a hand progresses and money is wagered, the upper limit steadily increases.
  • No Limit Hold’em: As the name implies, there are no betting limits at all. You can bet whatever is in front of you, as long as it’s your turn to act. No Limit and Pot Limit Hold’em are collectively known as big bet games.

3. Hold’em Rules

They say that it takes minutes to learn the rules of Texas Hold’em, but a lifetime to master the game. We can’t turn you into a Hold’em champion overnight. But we can at least explain the basic rules.

  • Every player receives two cards face down, which are private.
  • A round of betting takes place, before three community cards are turned face up in the middle of the table. All players can use these and it is known as the flop.
  • Another round of betting occurs before a fourth card is dealt, called the turn.
  • More betting takes place before the fifth and final card - the river - is revealed.
  • A final round of betting happens before all remaining players show their cards and the winner is determined.
  • If at any point in the hand you force everyone else to fold, or throw their hand away, you will win the pot regardless of your hand.
  • All poker hands are made up of five cards. Even though there can be as many as seven to work with, you only ever use five.
  • If someone places a bet, you must at least match that amount - a call - to stay in the hand. If you really like what you have, you can opt to increase the stakes with a raise.
  • Every hand, two players will be forced to put money into the pot before they even see their cards. These are known as the blinds. Their purpose is to generate action.

Hand Rankings

If the action reaches the showdown stage, how do we determine which player wins the hand? Simple. We refer to the Hold’em hand rankings chart below.

Bonuses

Description

Example

Straight Flush

Five suited cards in a straight line

As Ks Qs Js Ts

Four of a Kind

Four cards with matching index, plus an unconnected fifth car

Th Ts Tc Td Kc

Full House

Three of the same index plus a pair

Qh Qc Qs 9d 9s

Flush

Any five suited cards, not in a line

Ac Jc Tc 6c 2c

Straight

Any five offsuit cards in a line

Js Tc 9d 8h 7c

Three of a Kind

Three cards with the same index alongside two unpaired cards

Ks Kc Kd 9s 4h

Two Pair

Two different sets of paired cards with a random unconnected card

8h 8c 4d 4h Js

One Pair

A pair with matching indices plus three unconnected cards

5d 5s Kc Jc 3h

High Card

Five random cards that don’t fit into any other category

Ks Qh 7c 4s 2d

Cash Games Rules

So far, we’ve covered the basic rules of Texas Hold’em. These apply to both cash games or tournaments. But there are some oddities that are unique to cash games.

  • Straddle: The exact rules of a straddle will depend on the host of the game. But the classic straddle is when the player first to act - under the gun - voluntarily posts a third blind. It is usually twice the size of the Big Blind and must be posted before looking at the cards. They will now close the preflop betting action, instead of the Big Blind
  • Table Stakes: Whatever is in front of you at the start of the hand is your upper betting limit. This prevents the unethical and dangerous practices seen in the movies, where watches and car keys end up in the middle!
  • Buy-Ins: Again, the exact rules around buying into a Hold’em cash game will depend on the host. But there is always a minimum amount, often between 10 and 20 BBs, and a maximum amount.
  • Sitting Out: Players can leave the table temporarily, in order to take a quick break. When sitting out, they do not need to post blinds, like they would in a tournament. However, to prevent cheating, if a player sits out and misses a blind, they must post it upon their return. This applies even if they are not actually in the blinds.

3. A Hand of Hold’em

To illustrate how a Texas Hold’em cash game hand unfolds, let’s look at an example. Let’s say there are six players at the table and the game is 1 VPP/2 VPP No Limit Hold’em.

Preflop

Everyone is dealt two cards, starting with the player seated to the left of the dealer button. This player also posts the smaller of the two blinds. The player to the left of the Small Blind posts the Big Blind. Upon receiving two cards each, the player to the left of the Big Blind (known as under the gun) is first to act.

The player under the gun elects to fold. They throw away their cards and so they are finished with this hand. Player 4 also elects to fold and Player 5 chooses to raise. They make it up to 6 VPP with a 4 VPP increase. Player 6 is the one seated on the button and they opt to fold.

It’s now the turn of the Small Blind, who also decides to fold. The 1 VPP blind posted earlier is lost and remains in the pot. The Big Blind calls, adding 4 VPP to the 2 VPP they already had in the middle, to match the total of 6 VPP.

Flop

Play always begins from the left of the dealer button. That would be the Small Blind, but they have already folded. So in this case, it’s the player in the Big Blind. They opt to check, or in other words, they decline to bet.

Player 5 is the only other player left to act. They make a bet of 10 VPP. The Big Blind elects to call this bet, meaning they also put in 10 VPP and the betting is complete.

Turn

After the turn card is dealt, the Big Blind once again checks. Player 5 can either check as well, and we would go to the river card, or they can choose to bet as they did on the flop. This time, the player elects to check. This closes the action and we will see the river card.

River

The Big Blind checks. Player 5 bets 20 VPP. The Big Blind now opts to raise it up to a total of 60 VPP - a check-raise! If Player 5 wants to continue, they must put in another 40 VPP. Or they can fold and the Big Blind will take the pot. The other option would be to re-raise and add even more to the pot.

The player opts to simply call, which ends the action and we go to a showdown.

Showdown

The Big Blind must show first, as they are left of the dealer. The player turns over two pair. In order for Player 5 to win the pot, their hand must be better than two pair. They turn over three of a kind, which does beat two pair and they scoop the pot worth 153 VPP.

4. Hold’em Cash Game Tips

Having covered all there is to know about Texas Hold’em cash games, here’s a few tips to get you started:

  • Bet with a good hand: Of course, poker involves a lot of psychology and deception. Sometimes it pays to bluff, often it helps to feign weakness. But for the most part, when you have a good hand, you should bet. When you are the favourite to win, you need to get money into the middle. There's no point winning a pot if it’s empty.
  • Check often when many players are in the hand: The more people involved in a pot, the better your own hand needs to be. Against one opponent, top pair is a very strong hand. But against four players, the chance of there being two pair, three of a kind or some kind of draw is greatly increased.
  • It requires a stronger hand to call than it does to bet: Anyone can bet or raise, representing a good hand. The opponent may be bluffing, but you’ll have to pay to find out. There is little point in calling a bet with complete trash when your opponent is telling you they have something.
  • Keep an eye on your position: The play always moves clockwise from the dealer button. If you act later in the hand, you have the privilege of seeing what everyone else has done ahead of you. This makes it easier to decide, as you have more information. Playing out of position is hard, so try to do so only with strong hands.

Guide to Short Deck Hold'em

Sometimes referred to as Six Plus, Short Deck Hold’em is based on the original Texas Hold’em game. However, there’s a rather large twist, in that all of the lower value cards are removed from the deck. The result is a faster paced, action packed game, as players are dealt playable hands more frequently. Let’s learn more about Short Deck Hold’em, specifically cash games.

1. What is a Cash Game?

As opposed to a poker tournament, a cash game allows players to join in and leave as and when they like. The chips on the table carry to real monetary value, unlike tournament chips which are solely used to determine prize winners.

Rake

While poker tournaments charge fixed fees before the event gets underway, cash games do not. However, the poker room still has to cover its expenses and they do this in the form of a rake. Every pot that reaches a certain size will have a small percentage removed, which is called the rake.

2. What is Short Deck Hold’em?

Short Deck Hold’em or Six Plus (6+) Hold’em originated in Asia. The likes of Paul Phua, of Triton Poker fame, wanted to create a game with even more action than No Limit Hold’em. His clique of high rolling business people and poker players hit upon the idea of removing the least valuable cards from the regular deck.

The thought process is simple. Constantly folding is not fun. If you’re an amateur player buying into the highest stakes games, you want action. You want to enjoy your money’s worth. Sitting for long periods of time staring at junk is boring. And what’s even less fun, is being constantly outplayed by superior opponents who are better at playing tricky hands.

In order to stimulate action, the group opted to ditch all of the cards lower than a 6. So in Short Deck, there are no 2s, 3s, 4s or 5s. The new deck contains 36 cards and as a result, your traditional big Hold’em hands come around way more often. That means more playability and more chance of actually winning a pot.

3. Rules

The rules of Short Deck are exactly like that of Texas Hold’em, only with a slight difference in the hand rankings. Since there are four fewer cards in the deck with which to make a flush, this type of hand is harder to hit. As a result, it jumps up the ranking ladder. We’ve listed out the hand rankings in full below.

The rules of Short Deck are exactly like that of Texas Hold’em, only with a slight difference in the hand rankings. Since there are four fewer cards in the deck with which to make a flush, this type of hand is harder to hit. As a result, it jumps up the ranking ladder. We’ve listed out the hand rankings in full below.

The only other exception to the traditional rules of Hold’em concerns the low end of a straight. In traditional Hold’em, the ace can play as a low card, meaning A-2-3-4-5 forms a complete hand. Despite Short Deck having no 2 through 5 cards, you can still make a wheel using an ace: A-6-7-8-9 becomes a legal straight.

Hand Rankings

Hand Name

Example

Straight Flush

Ac Kc Qc Jc Tc

Four of a Kind

6h 6s 6c 6d Js

Flush

As Ks Js 9s 7s

Full House

9s 9c 9d 8c 8s

Straight

Kd Qc Jd Ts 9c

Three of a Kind

Ac Ah Ad Js 8d

Two Pair

Th Tc 9h 9h Jc

One Pair

Jd Js Ac 8c 7h

High Card

Ks Qh Tc 8s 7d

Betting Limits

Although in theory you can play Short Deck Hold’em at Fixed and Pot Limit, the game is almost exclusively played at No Limit. In other words, you can bet any amount up to the maximum number of chips in front of you.

4. Short Deck Trivia

  • You will be dealt pocket aces once every 105 hands in a Short Deck game.
  • The odds of flopping a set with a pocket pair are 18%.
  • The game made its debut at the 2018 Triton Poker Series in Montenegro. Phil Ivey - who else? - took down the 61 player HKD 250,000 tournament for a first prize of HKD 4.74 million (approximately $600,000).
  • At the same series, a HKD 1 million buy in Short Deck event was also played. Jason Koon triumphed in a 103 strong field. He took down HKD 28.1 million for the privilege (approximately $3.68 million).

Guide to Omaha

The exact origins of Omaha are unclear, though it’s believed that this interesting poker game is derived from Texas Hold’em. But with four cards instead of two and a requirement to use exactly two from your hand, the games couldn't be more different in terms of strategy. Let’s take a look at everything there is to know about Omaha poker.

1. Different Types of Omaha

Before we get into too much detail, it’s worth clarifying that there are several different ways to play Omaha. First of all, there are three different betting limit variations, which we’ll come to shortly. But secondly, there are actually two popular forms of Omaha.

Regular Omaha, or Omaha Hold’em, is the game we’ll focus on for the bulk of this article. But there also exists a split pot variation. In this game, half the pot is like traditional Omaha but the other is awarded to the player with the best low hand. This is known as Omaha Eight or better, or Omaha High/Low Split. We’ll talk about it in more detail later in the article.

Betting Limits

Just like Omaha’s cousin Texas Hold’em, the game can be played at a variety of different limits.

  • Fixed Limit Omaha: As the name implies, the bet sizes in this format are fixed. Before and after the flop, all bets must be equal to the Big Blind. But this doubles for bets on the turn and river. For instance, if the game is 1 VPP/2 VPP, then the betting limits are fixed at 2 VPP and 4 VPP.
  • Pot Limit Omaha: The most common form of Omaha is Pot Limit. Here you can bet any amount up to the size of the pot. As more money enters the pot, the maximum bet increase throughout the hand.
  • No Limit Omaha: On occasion, you will see No Limit games of Omaha. Exactly like Hold’em, you can bet any amount you wish up to the value of your total stack. Be careful with these games if you’re new to Omaha!

2. Omaha Rules

So let’s now jump into the rules of the game. If you’re already familiar with Texas Hold’em, you’re off to a good start as there are many similarities. Here are the basics.

  • All players are dealt four cards face down, which remain unknown to anyone else.
  • The initial betting round takes place before three cards are dealt face up in the centre of the table. This is called the flop and all players are entitled to use these cards.
  • A new betting round occurs, ahead of a fourth card - the turn - being revealed.
  • Further betting takes place before the river card, the fifth and final card, is dealt.
  • One last betting round takes place after the river and anyone left in the pot must now reveal their hand to determine the winner.
  • From these five shared cards and your own four cards, you must make a five card poker hand in accordance with the usual hand rankings (see below). However, you must use two of your own cards and three from the community cards.
  • If during the hand you can force all other players to fold, or discard their hands, you keep the pot no matter the strength of your hand.
  • If a bet is placed, then you cannot continue until you match that wager, known as a call. You could also elect to raise, by increasing the total bet size further.
  • Ahead of every hand, the two players closest to the dealer button must pay money into the pot without looking at their cards. These forced bets are called the blinds and they are what get the action going.
  • Aces play as both high and low, therefore A-2-3-4-5 is a straight, as is T-J-Q-K-A

Hand Rankings

In Omaha, the hand rankings work just the same way as Hold’em. You may have more cards to work with, but a poker hand is always made up of five cards. See the below table for details.

Hand Name

Description

Example

Straight Flush

Five cards in a straight line, all of the same suit

Ah Kh Qh Jh Th

Four of a Kind

Four of the same index, plus any random fifth card

Jh Js Jc Jd 7c

Full House

Three of a kind plus a pair

Kh Kd Ks 2c 2s

Flush

Any five of the same suit, not in a line

Kd Jd 8d 3d 2d

Straight

Any five cards in a line, not of the same suit

8h 7c 6d 5h 4s

Three of a Kind

Any three of the same index with two random unpaired cards

9h 9c 9d 6s 3d

Two Pair

Two pairs of matching indices with a fifth random card

Jh Js 6d 6c Ks

One Pair

A single pair of the same index with any three random cards

Qh Qs Ah 9s 4c

High Card

Five unconnected cards that don’t form any of the above combinations

Ah Js 8c 7s 3c

Omaha Eight or Better Rules

In this version of the game, sometimes called Omaha 8, Omaha Hi-Lo or High/Low Split, there are two pots. Play unfolds in exactly the same way as Omaha, only at the end of the hand, two winners are determined. One takes the normal, or high half of the pot and the other takes the low half. We already know how to determine the winner of the high pot. But what happens with the low?

A low is defined as any five unpaired cards which are 8 or lower. So any hand worth 8 high or worse is a low hand. Straights and flushes do not count for purposes of making a low and aces play as both high and low, just like regular Omaha.

So the best possible low is therefore A-2-3-4-5, as it is five high. Yes it is also a straight, which is great for the high part of the hand too. But for low purposes, it is classed as five high. The worst possible low hand would be 8-7-6-5-4.

When you both hold the same low, you move to the second card in the sequence, then the third and so on. So for example, a 7-6-4-3-A low would beat a 7-6-5-2-A low, as the 4 is lower than the 5.

Example

Let’s say that you are holding A-A-6-7 on a board of K-4-5-Q-8. Your opponent has K-K-2-3. Who wins what in this situation?

First we look at the high hand. You have made a straight (4-5-6-7-8) which beats the opponent's hand of three Kings. So you automatically take half of the pot for having the best high hand. In terms of the low pot, your straight also acts as an 8 low. But unfortunately your opponent has a better 8 low as 8-5-4-3-2 beats 8-7-6-5-4.

Guide to Sit and Go Tournaments

A Sit and Go, sometimes referred to as a Sit ‘N’ Go or SNG, is a popular type of poker tournament. On this page, we’ll explain the differences between this particular format and cash games. We’ll also take a look at some of the most popular Sit and Go structures.

1. What is a Sit and Go?

As we already alluded to, an SNG is a kind of tournament. As opposed to a cash game, where players can sit down and leave at any time, it is not possible to join a tournament part way through. Chips have no monetary value and once you lose them, you are eliminated.

As we already alluded to, an SNG is a kind of tournament. As opposed to a cash game, where players can sit down and leave at any time, it is not possible to join a tournament part way through. Chips have no monetary value and once you lose them, you are eliminated.

The most common Sit and Go format is a Single Table Tournament (STT) with either 9 or 10 players. We’ll talk more about these later on in this article.

Fees

Unlike with cash games, where a rake is levied on each pot, players must pay a fee up front in order to enter an SNG. Like any other poker tournament, a buy-in is paid which contributes to the total prize pool. But in addition, an entry fee is charged, which is usually a percentage of the buy-in. This is commonly fixed at 10%. For instance, a 20 VPP Sit and Go would typically cost 20 VPP + 2 VPP.

2. Different Types of Tournament Structure

Sit and Gos are a wonderfully diverse way to enjoy any form of poker, whether it’s Hold’em Omaha or a Mixed Games format like HORSE. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular SNG structures.

Number of Tables

When people think of poker tournaments, they usually tend to picture a Multi Table Tournament (MTT). All of the biggest and most prestigious events, such as the World Series of Poker or the World Poker Tour, take place across multiple tables.

When it comes to SNGs, some certainly do employ an MTT format. But more commonly, they are Single Table Tournaments (STTs).

Number of Players

For a Sit and Go to begin, a fixed number of people have to join the event. An STT could simply be a Heads Up match between two opponents. But it could also be a 6-Max game, with six players per table, or a full handed tale with 9 or 10 players.

Most SNGs are played full handed. Even if there are multiple tables, they tend to feature 9 or 10 players per table. But 6-Max MTTs and even Heads Up MTTs do exist.

Buy-Ins

We have already explained the fees involved to enter a Sit and Go tournament, with a buy-in plus an entry charge. But not all poker tournaments are identical. A Freezeout is where your initial buy-in earns you a fixed number of tournament chips. Once they are gone, you are out of the event. But some SNGs allow multiple entries to be purchased, known as Rebuys.

Many regular poker tournaments go even further, allowing players to top up at the end of the rebuy period. And others allow a period of late registration, permitting players to join long after the tournament has begun. This is not the case with Sit and Gos.

Blind Increases

Sit and Gos, like any other poker tournament, come in a variety of different formats. Longer, slower events tend to favour the more skilled players. While shorter, faster-paced events are better suited to the casual player who just wants to relax, have fun and blow off a little steam.

A regular SNG tournament structure online would see the blinds increase every 10 minutes or so, with smaller increments between blind sizes. However, a Turbo SNG structure would increase the blinds more frequently, usually in 5 minute increments, with larger jumps between each blind level. Hyper SNGs are structured to be faster still, with even shorter amounts of time between blind levels and even steeper increases.

Similarly, some tournaments offer a greater depth of starting chips stack. A Deepstack event, as the name implies, would provide a higher number of starting chips than average. This makes the tournament last longer, offering more playability. Turbo and Hyper SNGs tend to have smaller than average starting stack sizes.

3. Sit and Go Top Tips

Now that you know all about Sit and Gos, it's time to get involved and play some poker. Here are some top tips to help you improve your SNG strategy.

  • Experiment with structures: As we've explained above, SNGs come in many different flavours. Not all of them will be suited to your own individual style of play. Splash around at lower stakes to find out what works for you, then look to specialise in that format.
  • Preservation is key: With an SNG, once those chips are gone, it’s game over. The fewer chips you have, the more valuable they become. Don’t call and raise as liberally with weaker holdings as you might do in a cash game.
  • Play to win: As with any poker tournament, the prize structure of a Sit and Go heavily favours the winner. Whoever finishes in first place will take the lion’s share of the prize pool. A minimum cash is a nice consolation prize, but having invested all that time into a Sit ‘N’ Go, you want to maximise your winnings.
  • Monitor your stack: The dynamics of an SNG are fluid. If you become a chip leader early on, you can loosen up and put pressure on the smaller stacks. If you’re in trouble, you need to tighten up. As time progresses and the blinds increase, the need for urgency will also vary. Pay attention to your chip stack in relation to the blinds and to others in the tournament. It will shape your strategy at any given moment.

What are Multi Step Tournaments

Multi-Step tournaments often referred to as MSTs are a variant of sit and go's. MSTs allow you to play for a bigger prizes over multiple days.

Multi-step tournaments have the following structure:

  • Satellites that generally cost between 25-50 VPP that players can compete for throughout the week
  • Winners compete on Sunday and a Semi-Final Sit and Go. The winners advance to the Final Table
  • The Final Table is played immediately after the Semi-Final Table and plays down to a winner.

Weekly MSTs

50 VPP $1000 USD added Multi-Step Tournament

Our weekly 50 VPP buy-in MST this week will have $1,000 USD added split across the four finalists.

1st: 500 USD
2nd: 250 USD
3rd: 150 USD
4td: 100 USD

Format:

4-max hyper - Satellite
6-max turbo - Semi-Final (Sunday)
6-max turbo - Final (Sunday)

What are VPP Freerolls

In poker, a freeroll tournament is a tournament with no entry fee. A freeroll is a tournament where players have a chance to win free Virtue Player Points.

From time to time, Virtue Poker will offer a number of freeroll tournaments, remember to regularly check the promotions tab within the client or follow us on Twitter and Telegram to be the first to register.

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