A standard deck of cards (no Jokers)
2 to 10 players
Poker chips or substitute (optional)
Standard poker-hand rankings apply. See Basic Poker rules for the list. While Texas Hold 'Em can be played as a simple cash game, families will have more fun playing tournament-style where each player starts with the same amount of chips. Players are eliminated when they run out of chips.
Before each hand is dealt, the player to the left of the dealer antes the "small blind" and the player to his left antes the "big blind." The small blind is typically two-thirds or half of the value of the big blind. For example: Many games start with a simple, one-chip small blind and two-chip big blind. Or you can use 10 chips in the small blind and 15 in the big blind. Players should agree on this before play begins. The other players do not ante, just the two to the dealer's left. The blinds then rotate a position to the left after each deal.
Each player is dealt two cards face-down. Players evaluate the strength of their cards and then choose one of three betting actions: "fold" by giving in their cards and waiting for the next hand, "call" by matching the minimum bet (the big blind), or "raise" by betting more than the big blind. Players make this decision one at a time, starting with the player to the left of the big blind.
Once players have made their decisions, the dealer puts three cards face-up in the center of the table. These first three community cards are called "the flop." A round of betting follows. The dealer then adds another face-up community card, called "the turn." A round of betting follows. The dealer then places the final community card, "the river," face-up next to the others. Players can now see all the cards at their disposal. (Reminder: Only the best five-card poker hand that a player can create matters.) Players bet once again. The person willing to bet the most wins, unless two players are willing to wager the same amount. Then, the winner is determined by who has made the better poker hand.
In tournament-style Texas Hold 'Em, the last player with chips is the winner. Players try to amass large stacks of chips throughout play.
make a night of it
Card players of all ages love Texas Hold 'Em. Get the whole clan together and match wits over snacks and beverages. A tournament can last for hours, quality time spent together with the TV off and everyone focused on a common activity. Give the tourney winner the biggest slice of dessert, a silly keepsake, or an inexpensive iTunes card. Bragging rights will probably be enough though.
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