Texas holdem games and variations come in a wide variety. The
purpose of this page is to cover all of the most common variants
along with some of the more interesting but less common
versions. We even include details of house-banked, casino-game
versions. We’re also including information about poker games
held in various locations throughout the globe.
The first and most common way to look at Texas holdem games
is by the differences in how betting limits are handled. Betting
is fundamental to any game of poker—without it, you’re not even
playing poker. So it should be no surprise that the differences
in betting limits makes such a big difference that the games are
considered different from each other.
Texas holdem is played in one of the following 3 betting
In limit holdem, the sizes of the bets are pre-determined by
the rules of the game. Everyone agrees to the size of the bets
before entering the game. Texas holdem takes place over 4
betting rounds, and the size of the bets on the first 2 rounds
are half the size of the bets on the final 2 rounds.
Here’s how that works:
You’re playing in a $5/$10 limit holdem game. When you get
your cards, your bets have to be made in $5 increments. On the
flop, you also have to bet in $5 increments. But on the turn and
then again on the river, you have to bet in $10 increments.
This is the lowest volatility Texas holdem game you can play.
People who play limit holdem professionally are sometimes called
“grinders”, because they grind out small wins over time. Large
pots are possible, but they don’t get as large as quickly as
they can in other types of Texas holdem.
Pot Limit Holdem
In pot limit holdem, the sizes of the bets are limited by the
size of the pot. You can bet or raise the size of the pot, but
no more than that. This is a stop-gap game between no limit and
limit. If you’re not ready for the big action at the no limit
tables, playing pot limit might be a better fit for you.
You’re next in line to bet, and there’s $20 in the pot. You
can raise the bet by the size of the pot, $20. Or you can just
call the bet, which might well be smaller than that.
The implications to the pot odds and odds of hitting your
hand are tremendous when it comes to strategy. We cover that in
more detail on our comprehensive guides to these games.
No Limit Holdem
In no limit holdem, you can bet or raise with no limits other
than the size of the stack of chips in front of you. You’re not
allowed to raise by more than the amount of money you have on
the table, even if you can cover the action from the cash in
Here’s an example of how that works:
You’re in a pot which has $25 in it, but you have $100 in
chips in front of you. You can declare, “I’m all in.” When you
do, that raises the bet to a total of $100. You can also bet any
increment between the amount of money and the total value of the
chips in front of you.
You do have to bet or raise a minimum amount, though. It
might be as low as the size of the big blind, but if that’s been
raised, you have to raise at least by the amount of the previous
bet, unless you don’t have enough chips to do so. You always
have the option of going all in. (In that case, the extra chips
go in a side pot.)
Those are the 3 major variations of Texas holdem based on
betting limits, but the variants aren’t limited to that. Some
people might consider various forms of Omaha to be variants of
Texas holdem. For the sake of completeness, we cover those here,
Omaha is also sometimes called “Omaha holdem”. Purists might
argue that this is not a variant of Texas holdem, but we’re not
purists. We’re more interested in providing a comprehensive
guide for interested readers.
Omaha comes in multiple flavors, too:
Omaha 8 (aka Omaha hi-lo)
Both versions are played similarly to Texas holdem, with 2
Players get 4 hole cards instead of 2.
Players must combine 2 cards from their hands and 3 cards from the board.
Omaha is played “high”, which means that the best possible
poker hand wins the pot at the showdown. This might seem like
the only way to play this game, but the reality becomes clear
once you learn about Omaha 8.
Omaha 8 is often also called hi-lo or high-low. In this
variation, everything works the same, but the pot is split
between the highest hand at the showdown and the best qualifying
You have specific rules for how to qualify a low hand, too.
For purposes of this game, the lowest possible hand is A2345.
Any 5 card hand with a card higher than 8 doesn’t qualify. 45678
is the worst possible qualifying low hand. Your goal in this
variation is to “scoop” the pot—you want to win the high hand,
but you also want to win the low hand, so you get the entire
The implications for your strategy are dramatic because of
the low hand wrinkle.
Betting Limits in Omaha
Like Texas holdem, Omaha can be categorized according to its
betting limits. No limit Omaha is rare but possible. Pot limit
Omaha, especially Omaha/8, is common. In fact, Omaha/8 pot limit
is the most common variation of this game.
Other Texas Holdem Variations
As you might imagine, the number of hole cards is flexible.
Pineapple holdem is also considered a Texas holdem game, but
instead of 2 hole cards or 4 cards, you get 3 hole cards.
Pineapple holdem is available in 2 variations, too:
Pineapple Holdem vs Crazy Pineapple vs Lazy Pineapple
All 3 games are played just like Texas holdem, but you get 3
hole cards instead of 2. The difference is that in regular
pineapple, you have to discard one of those 3 cards before the
flop. In Crazy Pineapple, you don’t have to discard one of your
3 hole cards until after the flop. And in Lazy Pineapple (which
is also called Tahoe Pineapple), you don’t have to discard a
hole card until all the cards have been dealt.
The general strategic rule as it relates to these cousins of
Texas holdem is that with more cards, you need a stronger hand
to compete. In other words, you will fold less often in Texas
holdem than in Pineapple. And you’ll fold even more of the time
in Omaha and Omaha/8.
Other Variations of Texas Holdem
We’ve only scratched the surface. Those are the most common
cousins and variants of the game, but in home games, all kinds
of variations are possible. We’ve listed some of the ones we’re
played and/or read about below:
3 Card Holdem
This is similar to Pineapple, but you get to use all 3
hole cards to make up your final hand. (In all variations of
Pineapple, you can only use 2 of your hole cards.) This is also
sometimes called Super Eight.
Double Flop Holdem
In this variation, you get 2 flops, 2 turns, and 2
rivers. You’ll wind up with 2 separate hands. The pot is split
between the winners of the 2 hands. (It’s possible to win the
This resembles Omaha. You get 4 hole cards. But you have to
choose 2 of those cards to discard before the flop.
River of Blood
This is played just like regular Texas holdem, with one
major exception. If the river is a red card, there’s another
betting round and another river. This continues until there’s a
black river card.
This is similar to Irish Poker—you get 4 hole cards and
discard 2 before the flop. But in Irish Poker, you only have one
more betting round—you flop all 5 community cards at once
instead of having a separate flop, turn, and river.
Speed River Runs Wild
In this game, a straight consists of 4 cards, not 5
cards, which makes it a lot easier to make a straight.
In this variation, you get 4 hole cards, but you have
to split them into 2 separate hands. At the time of showdown,
you can decide which of those 2 hands to play.
Texas Holdem Casino Games
All the previous variations that we’ve discussed were
traditional poker games. That means that you’re playing against
the other players. But casino games, like blackjack, “3 Card
Holdem”, or “Casino Holdem”, are played against the house. How
the other players’ hands stack up doesn’t matter.
3 Card Holdem
In 3 Card Holdem, you win if you can get a better 3-card hand
than the dealer. In this game, there are only 5 cards instead of
7. You make 2 decisions during the game.
The game uses the following poker hand rankings:
3 of a Kind
You start by making an ante bet. You also have the following
side bets available:
Pair or Suited
Straight or Up
Once you’ve placed your bet, you get 2 cards, and so does the
dealer. Then there’s a community card dealt face up and 2 more
dealt face down. You look at your hole cards and decide whether
to fold or raise. If you fold, you lose your ante bet. If you
raise, you have to place a 2nd bet the same size as your ante.
Then the dealer turns over the next community card. You can
check or make another raise at this point. After this action,
the final community card is flipped over, along with the
dealer’s hole cards. The following possibilities exist:
The dealer has a better hand than you do. In this case, you lose your ante and your raise bet.
The dealer ties you. In this case, both bets are treated as a push.
You beat the dealer.
The payouts for this vary depending on whether or not the dealer
has a pair of 4s or better. If he doesn’t, then your raise bet
pays even money, and the ante is treated as a push. If he does
have a pair of 4s or better, both your ante and raise bets pay
Casino Holdem is popular in multiple foreign countries and
online. If you’re going to play, you start by placing an ante
bet. You then get 2 hole cards, and so does the dealer. There’s
also an immediate flop (3 community cards).
At this point, you can fold or call. If you fold, you lose
your ante. If you call, you have to put up another bet, this one
twice as large as your ante.
Then the dealer deals the turn and the river at the same
time, and he turns over his hole cards. There are 4
possibilities at this point:
The dealer doesn’t
qualify. (This means he doesn’t have a pair of 4s or better.) In
this case, the ante bet pays off according to the ante pay
table, and the call bet is treated as a push.
The dealer qualifies
and has a better hand than you do. In that case, you lose your
ante bet and the call bet.
The dealer qualifies
and you have a better hand than he does. In this case, the ante
pays off according to the ante pay table, and the call bet pays
The dealer qualifies
and the dealer and player tie. Both the ante and call bets are
treated as a push in this situation.
Casino Holdem is sometimes played as “Caribbean Holdem”. When
it’s played under that name, the rules vary slightly. You only
get even money on the ante bet if the dealer doesn’t qualify.
You also have the option of making a side bet on a progressive
jackpot. This version of the game is available only at RTG
Mini-Tex uses 2 hole cards and 3 community cards. Your goal
is to make a better 3 card hand than the dealer. You use the
same hand rankings as in 3 Card Holdem.
You start by placing an ante bet. Then you get 2 hole cards,
and so does the dealer. Once you’ve looked at your cards, you
can fold or make a flop bet. The flop bet must be the same size
as the ante bet.
After the betting round, the dealer deals a 2-card flop. You
now have the option to either fold or place a river bet of the
same size as the ante and flop bet.
Then the dealer plays the final card (the river). At this
point, you can fold or raise again. This time the raise is
called a play bet, and it has to be twice the size of the ante
In this variant, you have to use at least one hole card to
make your final 3 card hand. Also, the dealer has to qualify by
having at least a pair. If he doesn’t qualify, you get even
money on all bets except the play bet, which is considered a
If the dealer qualifies, you get paid even money on all your
bets if you win. On the other hand, if the dealer qualifies, you
lose all your bets if you lose. And if you tie, all bets are
treated as a push.
You start a game of Riverboat Holdem by placing an ante bet.
Another bet is available but optional—it’s called the river bet.
You get 2 hole cards, and so does the dealer. At this point,
you can fold and lose your ante bet (but not your river bet).
You can also call, which requires you to place another bet the
same size as the ante. You can also raise, which requires you to
place another bet twice the size as the ante.
After the betting, the dealer deals a 3-card flop. He also
flips over his hole cards. The dealer qualifies if he has a KJ
or better. If the dealer doesn’t qualify, the ante bet is paid
at even money, and the other bets are treated as a push.
If the dealer does qualify, the player wins even money on all
bets if he has the better hand. If he doesn’t, then he loses all
The river bet is paid off based on a pay table. The better
the player’s hand, the bigger the payout.
Texas Holdem Bonus
Texas Holdem Bonus is similar to traditional holdem, but
you’re not able to place a bet after the river. The payoffs on
all your bets are even money except for the ante, which only
pays off if you have a straight or higher (or a flush or
higher—rules vary based on where you play.)
You start by placing an ante bet. You also have the option of
placing a bonus bet.
You and the dealer both get 2 hole cards. After looking at
your cards, you can choose to fold or place a flop bet. The flop
bet is twice the size of the ante bet.
Then the 3-card flop is dealt. At this point, you can check
or place a turn bet. The size of the turn bet is the same as the
size of your ante bet.
Then the 4th community card (the turn) is dealt. You get the
option of checking or placing a river bet. The river bet, like
the turn bet, is the same size as your ante bet.
Then the river is dealt, and you make the best 5 card hand
that you can. If the dealer has a better hand, you lose all your
wagers. If you have a better hand, all the bets (besides the
ante) pay off at even money. In order to get paid off on the
ante, you have to have a straight or better. (In some casinos,
you need a flush or better.) If you don’t, then the ante is
treated as a push.
If your hand ties with the dealer, all bets are treated as a
The bonus bet is treated separately from all of the other
action. It pays off based on your 2 hole cards and the dealer’s
2 hole cards, based on the pay table posted at the casino.
Triple Action Holdem
Triple Action Holdem uses 5 cards during the game, and it’s
dealt from a 28-card deck. All of the cards lower than 8 are
removed. (Aces count as high for this purpose.)
You have 3 bets available:
You start by placing an ante bet. You and the dealer then
each get 2 hole cards, but one of the dealer’s hole cards is
dealt face up. There’s also a 3 card flop dealt face down.
Once you’ve looked at your hole cards, you have to fold or
raise. If you raise, you have to place another bet the same size
as your ante. Once you’ve made your decision, the dealer flips
over his face-down hole card and the flop.
The dealer qualifies with a pair of 9s or better. If he
doesn’t qualify, your ante pays off even money, but the raise is
If the dealer qualifies, you win even money if you have the
better hand. If the dealer has a better hand, you lose. If you
tie, the bets are considered a push.
If you didn’t fold and have a full house or better, you get
an ante bonus based on the pay table posted by the casino. You
win this bonus even if the dealer has a better hand. The flop
bet also pays off according to the pay table, even if the dealer
has your hand beat.
Ultimate Texas Holdem
Ultimate Texas Holdem resembles some of the other
house-banked holdem variations we’ve discussed, but the
difference is that you only get to make a single raise during a
hand. The later you make this raise, the lower it has to be.
You start by placing an ante and a blind bet, both of which
have to be the same size. You can also place a trips bet if you
You get 2 cards, and so does the dealer. You can then check
or place a play bet. The play bet has to be either 3 or 4 times
the size of the ante.
Then the dealer deals a 3 card flop. If you checked before,
you now have the option of making a play bet, but it can only be
twice the size of the ante.
Then the dealer deals a turn and a river card. If you checked
on the previous 2 betting rounds, you can make a play bet now
the same size as your ante. If the dealer has at least a pair,
You’re scored according to how your hand compares to the
dealer’s hand, and the bets pay off according to the pay table.
You can win as much as 500 to 1 if you have a royal flush, but
you might only win as little as even money (if you have a
The important thing to remember in this game is that once
you’ve made a raise, you can’t raise on subsequent betting
rounds. Also, the size of your possible bets goes down if you
Ultimate Texas Holdem is also available in a variant called
“Heads-Up Holdem”. In this version, you can only raise 3x your
ante bet before the flop. The other difference is the bad beat
bonus, which pays off if you lose with a straight or better.
Texas Holdem Games Near Me
Looking for “Texas holdem games near me”? No matter where you
live in the United States, you can almost certainly find some
Texas holdem action within driving distance of where you live.
You might have to find someone who’s hosting a home poker game,
but almost everyone now lives within an hour drive or less of an
actual casino—and most casinos now have cardrooms offering Texas
If you’re the type that prefers privately hosted home poker
games, you might take a look at Home Poker Games.
You might think of this site as being similar to Craigslist, but
with a much narrower focus. If you’re hosting a home poker game,
you can list it here in order to recruit player. If you’re
looking for a game in which to play, then you can find listings
The listings are organized by state, but the site doesn’t
focus exclusively on the USA. They also offer listings for
Canada by province and for other countries. The listings include
a name for each poker game, an optional image that the host can
upload, the date the listing was created , and how many members
and posts are included in each listing. You click on the name of
each listing to find the details for that listing.
Those details include the city, zip code, and schedule for
the game listed. The host also describes the games available,
what limits they’re playing for, whether or not they’re hosting
tournaments, and what the average ages of the players are. They
also have the option of listing any house rules and describing
the quality of the players in their group.
You contact the hosts of these games by private message. The
site runs on forum software, so if you have any experience with
message boards, you’ll be able to figure out how to do things
We’d like to include a couple of observations about Texas
holdem as it’s played in home poker games. Often these home
poker games have a rake just like you would find in a casino
cardroom, but in some cases, there’s no rake at all. In other
cases, you might pay a fee when you buy your chips. For example,
if you buy $100 in chips, you might have to pay $110 for them.
We’ve played in home poker games in various locations
throughout Texas, and most of them had free food and beverages
(including beer) available. If you want hard liquor, you’re
usually welcome to bring it. We’ve even played in home poker
games where you had waitresses who would bring you burgers from
Of course, these home poker games pose their own potential
problems. In Texas, for example, a string of these games got
busted by the police department a few years ago. Apparently it’s
a felony to run a gambling operation in that state. If you were
playing in those games, you faced a possible misdemeanor charge,
but hosting meant that you faced a felony. Either outcome is
There are also questions related to your personal security.
Licensed and regulated casinos have professional security staff
on hand 24 hours a day. But the quality of the security (if any)
at a home game is anyone’s guess. And unless you know the other
players, you might feel (justifiably) uncomfortable with them.
Atlantic City is known for many things, but casinos are
probably close to the top of the list. But not all of the
casinos in the city host poker games. We’ve listed the ones that
do below, along with a few notes about what you can expect from
each of them:
Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa
This is home to the largest
poker room in ACY. They have over 85 tables. They’re also the
only cardroom in the city offering regular events. They host
tournaments and cash games, too. You can buy in for as little as
$60 at their $1/$2 no limit holdem tables. They also have high
roller games with a buy-in of $5000 and $25/$50 blinds. They
also have the widest variety of available games, offering Texas
holdem, Omaha, mixed games, and even stud.
Golden Nugget, Atlantic City
This is one of the smaller
poker rooms in the city, with only 10 tables. They cater mostly
to a low-rolling crowd, offering $1/$2 and $2/$4 Texas holdem
Harrah’s Atlantic City
Harrah’s has a medium-sized poker
room with 40 tables. (Only in a town like Atlantic City would
that be considered medium-sized.) Most of their games are
lower-stakes Texas holdem games, although they usually have one
mixed game table running with $10/$20 blinds.
The Tropicana has 22 poker tables. They
only run $1/$2 no limit and $2/$4 limit games on a regular
basis, although they do sometimes have higher limit no limit
games. They have flat screen TVs, but the cardroom itself is not
well-reviewed by players.
Trump Taj Mahal Casino
The Trump Taj Mahal is the only
cardroom in town to not offer occasional tournaments. They offer
the usual assortment of Texas holdem games at the usual limits.
They also offer a surprisingly wide variety of stud games, but
they don’t always have enough players.
WWSOP Poker Room at Bally’s
This is a distant 2nd place
behind Borgata’s cardroom. They have 42 tables, but they focus
almost exclusively on lower limit Texas holdem games.
Kansas City Texas Holdem Games
Compared to Atlantic City, the poker rooms in Kansas City are
much smaller and less impressive. But there are plenty of Texas
holdem games to be found. We’ve listed the main properties
This is the biggest and best cardroom in
Kansas City, with 15 tables. Most of the action there is Texas
holdem, but they do offer Omaha/8 on weekends.
Boot Hill Casino
With only 5 tables, this is one of the
smallest cardrooms in the city. The only game available here is
no limit holdem with $2/$5 blinds and a buy-in of between $200
Harrah’s North has 15 tables and is one of
the only cardrooms in town to offer Omaha high. They also offer
some of the biggest stakes ($20/$40) limit holdem games in town.
This is the 3rd largest
cardroom in Kansas City, with a dozen tables and a wide variety
of games to choose from at various limits.
Kansas Star Casino
The Kansas Star Casino has 13 tables. If
you’re looking for low stakes Omaha high, this is the place to
find it. They have $1/$2 pot limit games there. Of course, they
also offer Texas holdem games.
Prairie Band Casino
This is tied with Boot Hill Casino for
smallest cardroom, but they have a surprisingly wide variety of
games available, including mixed games. It’s worth a visit.
The biggest Texas holdem games in the world can be found in
Las Vegas. But you can also find plenty of games for players
with small bankrolls. In fact, no matter what your preference is
when it comes to poker, you’ll be able to find it in Sin City.
Most casinos in Las Vegas operate cardrooms which are open
24/7. Most of them feature games like Omaha and stud in addition
to the holdem action. Even if you want to make money as a
dealer, Vegas is the place to do it.
We have a comprehensive guide to all the major cardrooms in
Las Vegas here on our site. Below we’ve listed the poker rooms
that we review there with no comment, as there are too many of
them to review on this page.
Aria Resort and Casino
Club Fortune Casino
Green Valley Ranch
Red Rock Casino
Santa Fe Station
If that looks like a lot of places to choose from, it’s
because it is. Our favorite place to play Texas holdem in Vegas,
though, is at the Bellagio. The high limit room at the Bellagio
is where a lot of poker celebs, like Doyle Brunson and David
Sklansky, can be spotted. In fact, if you have the bankroll, you
can sit down and play with them.
Macau has become one of the biggest and most important
gambling destinations in the world. The country has achieved
this in less than a decade, too. The gamblers there spend most
of their time playing baccarat, and over 80% of the floor space
in Macau casinos is devoted to that game.
You can find Texas holdem in Macau, but since it’s not that
popular, its availability is limited. A few casinos offer poker
cardrooms, though. The number varies—at times, you might find
half a dozen casinos offering poker. At other times, that number
might be as low as 3. And the casinos that do offer Texas holdem
don’t have large rooms. You’re looking at half a dozen tables,
The following 3 casinos have cardrooms:
You can find full details about Texas holdem in Macau casinos
at our comprehensive page dedicated to that subject.
At one time, Dallas, Texas was rife with underground
cardrooms and poker games. But with the rise of legal and
regulated gambling just across the border in Oklahoma, the
prevalence of such businesses has declined. (Law enforcement got
involved about a decade ago, too, about the time the Oklahoma
casinos were ramping up. We don’t think that’s a coincidence.)
We offer a comprehensive guide to Oklahoma Texas holdem games
and cardrooms on a dedicated page on this site, but know this:
Almost every casino in Oklahoma has a cardroom, and all of
the cardrooms features Texas holdem. A good percentage of your
opponents in this cardrooms will consist of Texans who traveled
north across the border to find some action without fear of law
enforcement involvement. Many of these players work for a
living, but the competition at some of the larger properties can
Some of the major cardrooms there are located at the
Choctaw Casino Durant
Choctaw Casino Gran
Lucky Star Casino Concho
WinStar World Casino
Of those, WinStar and Choctaw (Durant) are the 2 largest
poker rooms. The WinStar has 46 tables, and Choctaw has 30.
Reno, like Las Vegas, is located in Nevada, and it’s a
popular gambling destination. You’ll find almost 20 different
poker rooms from which to choose there. We have an entire
dedicated page for Reno Texas holdem games, and that page
features detailed descriptions of what’s available where.
Here’s a list of the major cardrooms in Reno, Nevada:
Carson Valley Inn
Club Cal Neva
Grand Lodge Casino at Hyatt Regency
Grand Sierra Resort
Harveys Lake Tahoe
Lakeside Inn and Casino
You’ll notice that some of these are located in Lake Tahoe.
If you’re not familiar with the area, that might seem confusing,
but Lake Tahoe is located right next to Reno. The biggest
cardroom in the area is at the Peppermill, which has 19 tables,
but Harveys and Eldorado also have a lot of tables and lots of
Texas Holdem Events
Texas holdem events are not exactly the same thing as Texas
holdem tournaments. The word “event” connotes something with a
little more prestige than just a standard tournament. Examples
of events include the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and the World
Poker Tour (WPT). Those are not, by any stretch of the
imagination, the only events available.
We have a page which offers comprehensive coverage of Texas
holdem events, but we cover some information about the WSOP and
the WPT right here on this page, too.
“Texas holdem live” is a term used to describe the game as
it’s played in person versus how it’s played online. The rules
for both versions are almost identical, but the strategy
considerations for a live game change considerably. We’ve
written a comprehensive guide to the differences, which you can
read by clicking on this link. But here’s a brief overview of
some of the considerations involved in playing live poker versus
poker over the computer:
The biggest difference is the physical presence of your
opponents. For some people, it’s easier to put your opponents on
tilt in person than it is online. Intimidating states, facial
expressions, and even the physical size of an opponent can make
a difference in how easy or hard it is to rattle a Texas holdem
But most people with even a passing familiarity with poker
know that the real issue has to do with poker tells. A tell is a
physical clue to what an opponent is holding. These aren’t
always 100% accurate, but in a game where every percentage point
counts, it’s important to get as much of an edge as you can.
You’re facing a player whose hands tremble as he bets into a
pot. Trembling hands are usually indicative of excitement
brought on by a strong hand. Knowing this can help you make
decisions about whether or not you want to try to bluff,
semi-bluff, or even get into a pot with this player. A lot of
that depends on the quality of your hole cards, but what you
think your opponent is holding matters too.
Another common tell has to do with how the opponent stacks
his chips. Neat, uniform stacks indicate (usually) that your
opponent plays conservative, tight-aggressive poker. If he bets,
he usually has a strong hand. On the other hand, a player who
stacks his chips sloppily is probably a little looser and more
aggressive. You might be more willing to get involved in a pot
with someone like this.
We have a detailed guide to Texas holdem on TV on our site,
but we provide an overview, here, too. Texas holdem on
television has grown steadily in popularity since 2002, but its
popularity is now declining. Much of this is related to the
invention of the “pocket cam”. This is the device that enables
television viewers to see what hole cards each player has.
But poker has been televised since the late 1970s, when CBS
aired the final table of the WSOP Main Event as a one-hour show.
It didn’t become as popular as it is now for almost 3 decades,
though. Poker is dull to watch unless you know what the players
are holding. Commentators used to guess at what the players
might have in the hole, but it turns out that this guesswork is
far less compelling than actually seeing which cards the players
have in the hole.
Another factor that increased the popularity of poker on
television is the rise of computer graphics. It’s now relatively
easy to include information on the screen about who has what
percentage to win. This increases viewer involvement and makes
the shows more interesting.
The most popular poker TV show is the World Poker Tour (WPT).
Over the years, a number of shows have met with varying degrees
of success. Notable examples include:
World Series of Poker
United States Poker Championship
World Poker Tour
European Poker Tour
Celebrity Poker Showdown
Ultimate Poker Challenge
High Stakes Poker
Professional Poker Tour
Texas Holdem Games on ESPN
ESPN stands for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network.
The station has been broadcasting sports programming since its
inception in 1979. It’s co-owned by Disney and the Hearst
Corporation. Texas holdem games are televised there, although we
think calling poker a sport is stretching the definition of
“sport” a bit.
The following programs feature Texas holdem games on ESPN:
World Series of Poker
This is an annual event. We offer
detailed coverage of this series of tournaments on a page
devoted just to that subject. The main event is a $10,000 buy-in
no limit holdem tournament, and the winner of that event is
considered the winner of the entire series. It’s been broadcast
in varying degrees of coverage on ESPN since the late 1980s.
US Poker Championship
This event is often
abbreviated USPC. It’s held at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic
City. Like the WSOP, it’s a series of smaller poker tournaments
capped off with a $10,000 buy-in main event.
Pro-Am Poker Equalizer
This was a televised event where
celebrities played against pro poker players. It aired in 2007.
The “equalizer” in the name comes from the extra chips that the
celebs received—these were meant to “equalize” the playing
field. There were 6 episodes with a $500,000 grand prize awarded
in the finale.
Some of the celebrities featured on the show included:
Some of the professional poker players featured on the show
Andy Bloch was the big winner at the end of the series.
Texas Holdem Games at the World Series of Poker
The World Series of Poker is a series of poker tournaments
held every year in Las Vegas. Since 2005, it’s been a production
of Caesars, but the event has its origins in 1970 at Binions.
Winners of each tournament get a bracelet as well as a cash
prize. The winner of the main event is considered the top dog of
The World Series of Poker always hosts multiple Texas holdem
games. In fact, the main event is a $10,000 buy-in no limit
holdem tournament. But that’s only one event among many at the
big event. The number and types tournaments vary from year to
year, but here’s a look at which Texas holdem events were
available in 2016. There are over 60 different events each year.
The Casino Employees Tournament
This is a $565 buy-in no limit Texas
holdem tournament only available to employees of casinos. You’re
eligible to enter as long as you work for a casino company
somewhere in the world. They require a pay stub or employee
identification to enter.
The Colossus II No-Limit Holdem Event
Another $565 buy-in tournament, this one has a $7 million guaranteed prize pool.
The Top Up Turbo No-Limit Holdem
This 2-day event has a $1000 buy-in and 20 minute levels.
The $1500 Buy-in No Limit Holdem Event
Exactly what its name implies.
The Heads Up No-Limit Holdem Championship
This one has a $10,000 buy-in and a 512 player cap. All tables are played 2-handed throughout.
The $1500 6-Handed No-Limit Holdem Event
Again, exactly what it says.
The $1500 Millionaire Maker No-Limit Holdem Event
This one has a guaranteed $1 million prize for the winner.
The $1000 Seniors No-Limit Holdem Championship
You have to be 50 years old or older to enter.
Those are just examples. A whole host of other events are
also available, including a “super-senior” event where you have
to be over 65 to enter, limit holdem events, multiple no-limit
tournaments with different buy-in sizes, and plenty of mixed
game tournaments. (Holdem is always one of the games in those
kinds of events.) We provide detailed coverage of the World
Series of Poker on a dedicated page on our site.
If you’re looking for an experience that doesn’t cost money
but simulates some of the excitement of playing in a local
cardroom or a major event, you can play a wide variety of video
games on various platforms. These Texas holdem video games often
offer scenarios and storylines that add to the fun.
Here are some examples:
Full House Poker Xbox 360
This is a 2011 game with RPG elements. If you’ve ever played one of those baseball games
where you can play an entire season with a team, you’ll be
familiar with how this one works. We like the various characters
in the game, most of which are unlocked when you win various
High Stakes on the Vegas Strip
This one’s a 2007 release that’s played with
multiple players. You can now download it from the Playstation
Poker Night 2
This 2013 release is a lot of fun. You get to play with famous characters
from other video games, like Ash from Evil Dead, Claptrap from
Borderlands, and Sam from Sam & Max. It’s more about jokes and
fun than it is about poker.
We’ve published an extensive guide to these types of games,
providing detailed reviews of 10 more of these games.
Texas holdem games are available in a dizzying number of
varieties now. Some of these are traditional and date back a
hundred years or so, while others—like the casino game versions
which are becoming increasingly popular—are less than a decade
old. This section of our site links to over a dozen other pages
on our site, each of which covers a specific Texas holdem game
related subject comprehensively. Click on those links to find
detailed, thorough coverage of each of those topics.
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