Posts Tagged ‘Turn’

A Beginner’s Guide To Texas Hold ‘Em Part 2 – Expanding Your Starting Hand Selection

Friday, July 11th, 2008

This is part 2 of a 4 part beginners series on how to effectively play Texas Hold ‘Em Poker. In Part 1 of this series you learned the odds of winning pre-flop with the top 10 best starting hands in Texas Hold ‘Em Poker in a heads up situation as well as in a 10 player situation. Part 2 of this series will focus on expanding your starting hand selection based on the probabilities of connecting your hand on the flop.

As you saw in the first part of this series the odds of flipping over one of the top 10 hands in Texas Hold ‘Em are fairly slim. While playing conservatively and waiting to be dealt one of these hands is a good beginner strategy in a cash game where the blinds always remain the same, in a tournament with increasing blinds and antes this strategy will result in your being blinded and lead to an eventual early exit. Let’s take a look at some more odds to illustrate this logic:

Odds of being dealt either A-A or K-K 1 in 110.5, or 0.905%

This means that for every 110 hands dealt you will be dealt the pocket rockets or american airlines only once.


Odds of being dealt 7-7 or better 1 in 27.6, or 3.62%

Granted your odds are improving but you are still looking at very marginal odds.


Odds of being dealt ANY pocket pair 1 in 17, or 5.88%

Now you’re getting some slightly better odds but remember a pocket pair doesn’t always make you the favorite in a 10 way pot.


Let’s take a look now at the odds of improving your hand on the flop;


Flopping a set with ANY pocket pair 1 in 9.51, or 11.76%

Those odds make a lot of starting hands look more attractive. Your 2-2 which had coin flip 50% of winning pre-flop now has an extra 11.76% chance of winning on the flop.


What’s important to remember with low pocket pairs such as 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, and 6-6 is that they are vulnerable to a lot of overcards that can come on the flop. While the odds of hitting a set on the flop are 1 in 9.5 which gives you great odds and justify a raise pre-flop if the flop doesn’t make you a set you need to be ready to throw your cards in the muck as soon as an opponent raises. Let’s look at an example:


Your hand: 3 3

Odds of winning heads up 53.7%

Odds of winning against 9 players 12.0%

Odds of making a set on the flop 11.76%


With any pocket pair you should always put in a raise pre-flop to knock-off as many players as possible to improve your odds.


You raise the standard 3 times the BB and you only have 1 caller.


Let’s look at two different flops to analyze how to act accordingly:


Flop #1

3♠ 5♠ 9


Great flop, you hit your 1 in 9.51 odds and made a set. You move all-in and your opponent folds.

*** Normally in this situation you would slow play your set to extract the most chips as possible from your opponents but we’ll save that for a more advanced lesson.


Flop #2

A♠ 9♣ Q♣


Now you’ve completely missed the flop and there are 3 overcards to your pocket 3s. Make a small continuation to see whether your opponent connected with that flop and if you are faced with a raise fold immediately.


The more advanced strategy in this situation would be to make a sizable continuation bet to represent a big hand and take down the pot but playing an underpair on the turn and river requires a deeper understanding of the game.


We’ve now expanded the starting hand selection to include lower pocket pairs. Here’s a quick reference guide of your odds of winning with these pocket pairs.



Odds of being dealt 0.45%

Odds of winning heads up 63.3%

Odds of winning against 9 players 13.1%



Odds of being dealt 0.45%

Odds of winning heads up 60.3 %

Odds of winning against 9 players 12.3%



Odds of being dealt 0.45%

Odds of winning heads up 57.0%

Odds of winning against 9 players 12.1%



Odds of being dealt 0.45%

Odds of winning heads up 53.7%

Odds of winning against 9 players 12.0%



Odds of being dealt 0.45%

Odds of winning heads up 50.3%

Odds of winning against 9 players 12.0%

Part 3 


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