On the surface Texas Hold’em looks like a very simple game. Each player is dealt two cards which are exclusively his; the other cards in play are community cards to be shared by all the players. Texas Hold’em comes in a number of different varieties; the most common variety follows. The game starts when the two players to the left of the dealer ante. These players are called the blinds since they are forced to put money into the pot blind – before they see any cards. Usually the player to the dealer’s immediate left – called the big blind – antes an amount equal to the minimum bet, and the player to his left – the little blind – antes half that amount. At a land-based casino all bets are placed in front of the players and not thrown into the center of the table in order to keep better track of what each player bets. Then the dealer deals two cards, face down, to each player.The first round of betting starts with the player to the left of the little blind and continues clockwise. Each player may fold, call the bet of the big blind or call a raise if the bet has been raised, or raise. The big blind may simply do nothing if there has been no raise. If there has been a raise the big blind may call it, raise it, or fold. The little blind can fold, or if there has been no raise may call by increasing his bet to the minimum bet. If there has been a raise, the little blind may call the raise, re-raise or fold.The dealer “burns” a card (discards it face down onto the table) and turns up the next three cards – the “flop.” A second round of betting follows starting with the big blind and continuing clockwise. Each player can check (no bet) if there have been no bets ahead of him, or bet. If there has been a bet ahead, a player may fold, call the bet, or raise.The dealer burns another card and a fourth card – the “turn” – is added to the flop. Betting occurs as on the previous round, but in most games the minimum bet usually doubles at this point. Finally after burning a card, the fifth card – the “river” – is added to the community cards. The final round of betting takes place. If more than one player is left, there is a showdown with each player making the best five-card hand he can from his two hidden cards and the five board cards.Quick review of hand rankings: it’s easy to remember what beats what at poker. Starting from the lowest it’s one, two, three. One pair, two pair, three of a kind. Then straight, flush, full house, four of a kind. Last is the straight flush with the very best one being a royal flush.
Gambling has long been one of the chief adult pastimes in almost every country in the world, and as the Internet has become more technically sophisticated, entrepreneurs the world over have programmed online casino games to entertain people on every corner of the globe. One corner of the globe, however, has attempted to stymie Internet gambling: the United States. The good news is that the technology has long outpaced the regulation, and even today millions of Americans wager money in online casinos. Here’s what you should know about Internet casinos.Online poker has become big business around the world, and many serious gamblers are familiar with the variety of Internet card rooms operating today. Full casino offerings such as slots, roulette, blackjack, craps and keno are relatively more recent on the market. Other popular games such as Bingo and video poker can also now be found online. Obviously it is easier for unscrupulous outfits to run shady tables and scam their players than in the real world, but a variety of websites review the offerings available to ensure you find the most popular, most trusted online casino games.Yet how are US based players supposed to play without getting into trouble? Online casinos are typically organized outside of the US, either in Canada, the UK, the Caribbean or Asia. Some of the slickest and most popular online casino games such as Virgin Casino take no US players. Others will take most US players, but exclude those from the most heavily regulated states. A number of others will accept all US players, and work through secure Internet merchant programs, most of which require invitation to join. To facilitate the process, the casinos offer you the invite, and the merchants secure the process by requiring you to fax ID before you can cash out.The State of New Jersey is poised to be the first US state to offer legal Internet gambling, a result of budget troubles in the state. The proposal, which would supposedly only be open to New Jersey residents, would raise about $55 million a year in new tax revenues, with the state’s struggling Atlantic City casinos expected to make nearly $200 million for themselves. It remains to be seen how tight the quarantine on gamblers outside of New Jersey will be, but past experience suggests that ways for players in other states to join in the fun are likely.Because of the high level of competition between various online casinos, many offer tremendous deposit bonuses, offering an extra $500-$1000 up front, or doubling your initial purchase. This is a benefit rarely found at real world casinos, and for those who don’t care about money but enjoy the games, online casino games often have free versions to enjoy from your own home. No real-world casinos offer such an opportunity, and the chance to work on betting strategies, card-playing skills and other techniques can make anyone a better gamer.Online casino games are changing the Internet and the gambling world, making use of the best technology to help more people enjoy history’s most beloved games.