Key Differences Players should know

Gambling is one of those activities in which people can effectively get something for nothing. People who gamble, see the possibility of entertainment at no cost and with the potential profit. Gambling has many forms, all intended to give players a chance to earn extra bucks by betting on their luck. There are two main types of gambling. The first one where players wish for luck to turn in their favor to win the prize money. The second one involves a bit of luck and lots of strategy and skills to hit the jackpot.

Chance-based gambling requires lesser bets and comes with relatively lower rewards compared to gambling that combines luck and skill and where both stakes and rewards are high. While games like roulette, slots, and bingo belong to the former category, poker and its variants like Texas Hold’em and Omaha Poker (Omaha Poker includes three different types of Omaha Poker games) are examples of the latter.

Poker

The history of poker dates back to the early 19th century. Since then, there is no single year when its popularity has not surpassed the year gone. Poker is a card game where players indulge in betting on the best hand according to the specific game’s rules. However, smart poker players, who know how is poker played, sometimes place bets known as ‘bluffs’ for ‘not so good hand’ as part of their strategy to influence the decisions of other players. In doing so, they must follow the rules of the game.

The game is played with a 52  card deck, which includes 13 different ranks arranged in four card suits. Each player is dealt 5 cards clockwise called a ‘poker hand’ (four cards poker and two cards poker is also famous) by the card dealer through different rounds of betting, including bet/check, raise, call, and fold. A player wins the poker game either by revealing their best hand after the final betting round in a showdown when every player has folded their hands or without revealing their hand by forcing other players to fold their hands through bluffs. The winning player takes home all the money known as ‘pot’, which is the collective of wagers placed by the participating players. Also, poker comes with different betting structures, such as fixed limit, pot limit, and no limit.

Texas Holdem

Texas Hold’em is one of the most popular poker variants (Omaha poker is derived from Texas Hold’em). Though it is easy to play due to simple rules, the game demands being tactful to master it. The game has the same card deck configuration and objective as in poker. However, the gameplay involves dealing players with two-hole cards faced down, followed by five community cards faced up in three stages after every round of betting. Players need to make the best five card poker hand using their two-hole cards and five community cards  to win the pot. The player with the best poker hand and has not folded by the end of all betting rounds wins the pot.

Already a favorite with poker players, the popularity of Texas Hold’em (with Omaha poker) surged with the advent of television and the Internet. So much so, that  it is now an integral part of international poker tournaments like the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour.

Differences Between Poker and Texas Holdem

Despite sharing enough similarities between them, both Texas Hold’em and poker are different from each other in many ways. The main difference between these two card games is the number of hole or pocket cards received by each player. Poker is a regular 52 cards game with three main variants – stud poker, draw poker and community cards poker. All three versions differ in terms of the number of cards in play, the number of cards (from two cards to ten cards) dealt face up or face down, and the number of players.

Texas Holdem, on the other hand, is one of the three main poker variants – community card poker (The main difference between Texas hold’em and Omaha poker is that all players receive four hole cards in Omaha). Though it is also played with a 52 card deck, the best hand is made by choosing from any combination of the two-hole cards and five community cards. To better understand the difference between these two card games, we must look at their patterns of play.

Poker Pattern of Play

1. Stud Poker

It is a classic version that is still popular among the masses for its variations. Stud poker is an altogether different style of poker game compared to Texas Holdem as it allows a player to make a forced bet on every poker hand called the ‘ante’. Here is how this version differs from Texas Holdem based on its play.

  • Each player is dealt a set number of cards both face up and face down in different rounds.
  • The cards dealt are followed by a betting interval.
  • Players have to make the best five-card  hand.
  • There are no community cards that could be used by the players.
  • Games with more rounds are  played as a fixed limit betting game.
  • Players cannot choose to go all-in on the flop, as seen in Texas Holdem.
  • Seven-card stud is the most popular stud poker variant with four cards face up, and three cards face down.

2. Draw Poker

In contrast with Texas Holdem, this poker version is straightforward in card dealings. Since cards are dealt face down, players need to play by the strategy to guess what their opponents hold. Many other factors distinguish it from Texas Holdem.

  • A complete poker hand (5 cards) face down is dealt with each player before the betting takes place.
  • Players don’t share cards.
  • Each player then places an ante to the pot before they can see what is on their cards.
  • After the first round of betting, players can draw new cards from the top of the deck in exchange for up to three cards.
  • Another betting round takes place after the new hand, followed by the showdown.
  • The player with the highest value of cards wins the game.

Texas Holdem (Community Card Poker) Pattern of Play

As mentioned earlier, Texas Holdem is a community card poker game where each player tries to make the best five-card hand by combining their two-hole cards with five community cards. While hole cards are dealt face down, community cards are dealt face up. Selecting the best five from seven available cards makes Texas Holdem a bit tricky. But by sticking to the basic rules and using advanced poker strategy, a player can conquer the game.

One of the most interesting aspects of Texas Holdem is that it can be played with a fixed  as well as no limit, which amplifies the chances of winning big. If we look at its pattern of play, we can see the differences.

  • The players sit clockwise to the card dealer and place the blinds before the cards are dealt.
  • Each player is then dealt with two-hole cards face down at the start of the game.
  • Players place a bet according to their hands in four betting rounds (Bet/Check, Raise, Call, and Fold).
  • The first round of betting begins with players choosing either to fold or play their hole cards.
  • Three community cards (‘flop’) are then dealt followed by the second round of betting.
  • The fourth community card (‘turn’) is then dealt followed by the third round of betting.
  • The final card (‘river’) is put on the table followed by the last round of betting.
  • Players can use seven community cards to make the best five card hand.
  • The winner is decided based on who owns the highest value cards or who has not folded their hands at the end of the game.

So far, we know that poker and Texas Holdem are not entirely different. Now let’s look at the strategies to play these games.

Strategies to Play Poker and Texas Holdem

The odds of winning poker games heavily rely on the strategy applied. As poker and Texas Holdem have somewhat different patterns of play, a player must be aware of several effective strategies that can win them the game. Knowing the rules will not work if a player does not practice them time and again. The player needs to sharpen their analytical skills to read the minds of other players and assess the situation. Doing so will put the player in a winning position even when they do not have the best poker hand. Being diligent in using probability and game theory to calculate their prospects of winning could be an x-factor.

It is a game of fun and excitement only if the player does not like losing money. Remember, there is no guaranteed way of winning poker games, but using a few strategies can improve your game and increase your likelihood of winning it. Here is a comprehensive guide to poker and Texas Holdem strategies that a player should apply to shine like a pro.

1.  Poker Strategy

  • Learn basic poker rules and the importance of positions.
  • Consider hand rankings to know which hand to play and when.
  • Always start with a low bet so that you do not end up with hefty losses.
  • Try to up your game with every session regardless of the result.
  • Analyze pot odds and betting patterns to stay in the game.
  • Use bluffs and positions to take the game beyond the starting hand.
  • Keep a check on your emotions to avoid making poor decisions.
  • Switch your style of play with changing game scenarios.
  • Play relatively fewer hands with aggressive betting.
  • Play more hands in ‘late position’ to take full advantage of your opponents’ actions.
  • Guess your opponents’ cards by keeping an eye on their position, post-flop actions, and the time they take to make decisions.
  • Do not use bluffs too often. Instead, use them when you have a poor hand to surprise and confuse other players.
  • Make logical bets to keep opponents thinking about your next moves.
  • Be smart at calculating your odds and outs.
  • Bet or raise if you have a strong hand, and fold if you have to choose between call or fold.
  • Think twice before placing higher bets for your favorite starting hand.
  • Apply the same strategy that lets you win more and more games.

2. Texas Holdem Strategy

  • Restrain from playing opening hands unless you know it will reward you after the flop.
  • Do not get carried away by the ‘no limit’ format of the game. Make sensible bets instead.
  • Never limp or go for big blind if you are the first to enter the pot.
  • Do not shy of folding when you should.
  • Instead of playing regular players, select a table with recreational players to increase your win rate.
  • Keep raising your strong hands as and when required to move up in the game.
  • Always put your opponents on a range of cards instead of guessing their hands.
  • Use blockers (cards that are of no use to you but can be valuable to other players) to gain a competitive edge by making sure that your opponents do not end up with the winning hands.
  • Develop your skills at both making and catching bluffs (making vs catching bluff, catching bluff always wins while you play poker, how to catch bluff is always important).
  • Decide when to float (calling a bet with a weaker hand) to win additional pots.
  • Avoid playing too many hands with the hope of getting good ones.

Apart from these, a player can also apply the basic poker strategies to their Texas Hold’em arsenal.

Pros and Cons of Poker

Even if only a little, luck still plays a crucial role in winning poker games. Chance brings an element of uncertainty in the game, which is the biggest disadvantage of poker. Like most gambling games, poker and Texas Holdem have positive and negative sides that players must understand before trying their hands at any of them.

It is quite common for one to get tempted by the rewards offered by the game. Therefore, you are advised to reassess your decision on how to play poker ahead of investing your hard-earned money and precious time in it.

PROS CONS
Helps you make money while doing what you are passionate about Addiction could lead to social isolation
Offers opportunity to make large amounts of money in quick time Winning is not guaranteed due to the chance factor
Provides you the option of playing either offline or online poker depending on your convenience and budget Playing longer games can cause boredom and exhaustion
Improves your decision-making ability and analytical skills Requires initial investment and lots of patience to convert it into profits
Lots of variations to choose from that suit your needs Calculating win-rate is tricky
Provides never-ending entertainment and excitement Losing more than invested could be mentally challenging

Pros and Cons of Texas Holdem

PROS CONS
Offers the choice of ‘limit’ and ‘no limit’ poker games ‘Limit’ poker games lack all-in bets
‘Limit’ poker games have weaker competitive levels ‘Limit’ poker games can take a lot of time
How to play a poker, it lets you learn new skills when playing the game Requires a big bankroll to sustain losses
Mathematical proficiency could help you beat both ‘Limit’ and ‘No-Limit’ poker games The high variance could lead to losing streaks
Available both offline and online.  

Conclusion – Which is Better?

Those into gambling are very well aware of the potential rewards and risks of poker. Unlike chance-based games, offline or online poker is played with a set of skills and strategies coupled with a pinch of luck. The better the strategy, the higher the chance of winning the game. What puts poker in so much demand is its variations that suit different players.

As far as popularity is concerned, Texas Hold’em has always had an upper hand. That is why most people often confuse Texas Hold’em with poker.

If you want to play with variations and become a pro, poker should be your only choice. But if you are looking for a fast-paced poker game with easy to learn rules, then Texas Hold’em is your best bet. There is little to no possibility of cheating in Texas Hold’em. Other factors that prove why Texas Hold’em is better than poker include no complex combinations of cards, a low number of hidden cards every player is dealt, and television coverage of the game tournaments.

While neither will make you rich overnight, learning the basics of the game, using more advanced strategies, and working on emotions can help you rule the game.