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Table Games : Texas Holdem. Keep the chances on your side!

By Joni Hawk

Level: Mar 29th 2007
In Texas Hold'em, a particular form of poker, it’s important to flop the best hand, in order to have a real chance to win the pot. The leading hand holds up and wins the pot more often than in just about any other form of poker.

Other games like Omaha or 7 Card Stud, give you the real chance to win with a lot of different hands. Even when you think your hand is not a good one, along the way, it can become a winning one. But in Texas Hold'em usually this doesn't happen, partly because the game uses just a few cards.

Here's a common example:

You Opponent Flop
Qd-Qh Ac-Js As-9d-5h
The Ace on the flop broke the deal, the good hand that you had until then. In order to win you need to hit a Queen in this case. So you have a small chance to win, something like 10-to-1. It’s better for you to get out. If somebody flops a higher pair, and you have a “poker pair” your hand is a better one because it has to hit one of its pair cards to win.

See the example:

You Opponent Flop
As-10h Kc-Jd Jh-10c-3d
This turn, your second best pair is only a 4-to-1 underdog. You have five basic outs to probably win the hand with. You have two 10s to hit; three other Aces would make you "Aces up". When you had a pocket pair it practically forced the opponent. Here you must think about the value of the pot in order to continue to play.

In other games the chances to win are much higher. For example, in good old 7 Card Stud a starting pair of Jacks would be only a 2-to-1 underdog against a starting pair of Aces. In this situation in Omaha poker you will often flop the best possible straight with no flushes or full houses yet possible - and still have a chance to win the pot.

So when you flop the second best pair in Hold'em, you're usually anywhere from a 4-to-1 to a 10-to-1 underdog to make the best hand at the river. That's a lot worse than in good old 7 Card Stud, where a starting pair of Jacks would be only a 2-to-1 underdog against a starting pair of Aces.

In Omaha poker for that matter, you will often have the best possible straight with no flushes or full houses and still have real chances to win the pot.

Texas Hold'em exceptions

Although you know your hand is behind you may have the chance to win the game.

Think about these circumstances:

You Opponent Flop
10c-Jd As-Ah 8h-9s-2d
In this case your open-ended straight draw is only about a 2-to-1 underdog to run down the opponent hand. That's because this time, eight outs (four 7s and four Queens) will make your hand.

What about having this cards?

You Opponent Flop
Ks-Js Ah-Qc As-7s-2s
Here, you're a little less than a 2-to-1 underdog to touch the highest possible level with one of the nine remaining spades. So these cases show you the situations when you’re a little bit far from the best hand on the flop in Hold'em. When your hands are drawing it worth to continue, otherwise it' s better to stop.

It’s much easier to learn Hold'em poker than other types of poker knowing that the basic strategy of this game is so clearly established.
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