Texas hold ’em poker is a slight variation of the original card game of poker. In this version, two different hole cards are initially dealt to each player. The cards are always handed in a face-down position.
After that, five community cards are also dealt to the players. However, all of these cards are dealt face up in three consequent stages. These stages consist of the flop, which consists of three cards, the fourth street or turn, which has a single card, and the river or the fifth street, which is also one card. Apart from the initial ‘hole cards,’ all of these cards are handed to the players in a face-down position.
Every player tries to find the best possible combination of a five card Texas hold em; poker hand from his own combination of the seven cards set that includes the initial two (face-down) hole cards and the five community (face up) cards.
All the players of the game have various betting options once the cards have been dealt. They can call, raise, check or fold, as per their own respective judgement. Betting rounds generally take place either before the flop has been dealt or after every subsequent deal. The player who has not folded at the end of the hand and who also has the best hand to show will win the poker pot.
The Starting Hands and Their Importance
The overall strength of the starting hand in Texas Hold em’ will indicate the odds of your winning the hand long before the remaining cards have been dealt. For example, a pair of aces is considered to be the strongest starting hand possible. Remember, that we are talking about your hole cards and no one knows you have a couple of aces up your sleeve. However, a couple of non-descript number cards (a two and a seven from different suits, for example) can mean the difference between success and defeat. Under these circumstances, your starting hand can easily guide you in staying in the game or folding before the turn.
As a general rule, you can be a very strong contender should your hole cards contain:
- A Pair of aces: This is pretty much the strongest starting hand in Texas hold em’ poker.
- The aces are followed in order of strength by a pair of kings, a pair of queens and a pair of jacks.
- Any other high pairs
- An ace coupled with a face card: This can easily build a solid foundation, provided that the coming flop will give you other favorable cards
Apart from these cards, other cards in a given sequence, especially face cards and high cards, may also get you off to a good start. Moreover, should these cards be of the same suit, you also have the potential to get a flush such as a straight flush or the ultimate hand in the poker game, i.e., a royal flush.
Here, it is pertinent to note that the flop will almost always play an important role in gauging just how strong your odds are at winning the poker pot. This is why you should always assess your position very carefully in order to determine exactly how much risk you will be willing to take.
Worst Starting Hands Possible
When the dealer has handed you your starting hand, you have to check the multiple combinations you can make with them. Doing so is a good poker strategy. Certain combinations decrease your winning odds quite drastically. Such combinations typically include various very low numbers that may not be properly sequenced or matched. It will be a wise decision to fold early if your initial two cards consist of any of the following:
- A 2 or a 3 card that has been paired with either a 7 or an 8 (irrespective of the suits, it will not be possible to create a straight from such a hand)
- A face card or an ace or any other low card from another suit or house: In effect, you will have to place your bets on the strength of the single high card you hold. Not a wise move by any yardstick of the game
- Two unsuited and completely unmatched low cards (such as a 4 and a 7, or even a 5 and an 8, and so on and so forth): Winning the strength of such a poker hand is going to be a really tall order
Some Advice for Beginners Playing Texas Hold Em Poker Tournaments
It is very important to only play the cards if you have been dealt a good hand and try and fold if you end up with the worst hands. No one will think you are a coward for backing down when you have such a bad hand. If others are trying to raise, then let them.
Following this strategy can give you some rich dividends. But that does not mean that you are absolutely guaranteed to rake in the poker pot just because of a reasonably good starting hand. Similarly, folding at the start does not mean that all is lost. It is possible to change your fortunes as the online poker game progresses. The nature and scope of the game will also play an important role. For example, a ‘no limits’ game is sure to inspire a bit of caution.
As your skill level will increase, you will be able to learn to take the peaks and the troughs in stride till you become a better poker player.
There is no magic winning hand combo (barring the Royal Flush, of course). But as you play online poker tournaments with a certain amount of regularity, you will learn to gauge the possible combinations and use them to your advantage. Go ahead and join a game and see what the buzz is all about!