Tip of the Month – May 2013

Playing a Straight

In Texas Hold-em, a straight is a very good hand, but can be dangerous.  Make sure that if you have a straight, you check a few things before you think of betting all-in or bet yourself into a corner. poker-straight If you’ve made a sizable bet and are being raised, start thinking… what is the best hand possible?
First question; are there any pairs on the board?
If not, you can rule out a four-of-a-kind and full houses. Next, are there any 3 of one suit on the board? If not, we can rule out the possibility of a flush… leaving the next highest hand a straight.

Now, what is the highest straight possible? If the board is 3,7,8,9,King – the best hand is the “10,Jack” making the highest straight possible (7,8,9,10,J) given the cards on the board. Now if you have a 6,7,8,9,10 giving you a 10 high straight, you’re looking at the second best possible hand. You might be being raised by the “10,Jack” but not likely – having both cards to complete the straight is a very strong hand indeed. I have dropped out of hands due to over-thinking the possibilities. Only to have an opponent show proudly, triple-9’s… and I folded a low straight that would have won, and he say’s “Oh, I didn’t even see the straight possibility.” Knowing the caliber of your competition is very important too.

When the board has 4 sequential cards with openings on both ends that will complete the straight, be careful and aware that even if you have the high card to complete the straight, the person raising you could have the two top cards for the higher hand.

Your hand 5,6,7,8,9, their hand 5,6,7,8,9,10.

Keep asking yourself, what is the highest possible hand and your game will improve.

Paul Smith
Poker Night in America

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