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Which Poker Hand Wins: A Guide

Turn your man cave into the toughest poker game in town!

No man cave is complete unless it’s hosting a poker game at least a few times a year. After all, poker is the unofficial sport of all man caves (with darts and pool close behind) across the globe, so no man cave would truly be complete without one!

However, for most man cave dwellers, running a good game simply isn’t enough. Walking away a winner on any given poker night is just as important! After all, there’s more than just bragging rights on the line here, there are real cash prizes too!

Fortunately, this is one area we’ve got you covered. We’ve got some excellent tips from TCOOP Champion James Maxwell to help you on your way to becoming a winner in today's home games!

The Basic Rules of Poker

Before we get anyone on the fast track to success, it’s important to make sure everyone in your game knows the rules! The most popular version of poker is Texas Holdem’, which we’d recommend you start with. The rules for Texas Holdem’ are relatively straightforward.

All players are dealt two face-down cards, followed by a round of betting. In poker, when it is your turn to act, you are given one of three choices. You can fold the hand if you don’t like the look of it. You can call a bet if you’re happy with your hand. Alternatively, if you have a great hand, you can choose the third option and raise over the top of the first bet! This is where it’s great to have a high-quality set of acrylic poker chips too, for that perfect crashing sound when shoving all your chips in the middle!

Three face up community cards called “the flop”  are dealt next, followed by another round of betting. After this, the ‘Turn’ card is dealt face up, followed by another round of betting. Finally, the fifth community card is dealt face up, followed by one more round of betting. Then all remaining players reveal their hand. The player with the strongest hand from their two hole cards and five community cards is declared the winner.

Generally, the rules are simple. However, it’s your job to make sure you know these rules inside and out as the host. One of the few ways a poker night can go wrong is when arguments begin over the rules. So having the knowledge to deal with any rule disagreements swiftly will go a long way in ensuring a fun night is had by all! You can find a full breakdown of all the rules for Texas Holdem’ here.

 

Hand Strength

One tip for a smooth playing experience is to display the hand rankings clear for everyone to see. With the right frame, this could even make a great addition to the man cave wall! Not only is it clear for all to see, but it looks great and gives off a poker room vibe.  

Cash or Tournaments?

Once everyone is caught up on the rules, the question to ask is whether you’re going to play cash or tournaments?

Cash games offer a longer, slower format, with the end of play coming only when players have had enough. Cash games are often more complex from a strategy point of view too. Moreover, new players can lose all their money much quicker playing cash. With cash games, all your money can be lost in a single hand. So, for this reason, we’d recommend starting players off with tournaments.


A poker tournament is a great choice for a home game as you can set an affordable buy-in for everyone. If you’re planning for a casual game, £5 or £10 entry is normally the sweet spot. It isn’t breaking the bank, but it still gives everyone a big enough incentive to put in the effort! Tournaments also have a clear finish line and an out-and-out winner for bragging rights too! 

Tournaments also tend to end quick enough that you can play a few before the night is over. So our recommendation is to start with tournaments and go from there!

 

Tournament Strategy

If you want to get ahead at the poker table, you can use a few key strategies. The simplest and most effective of these is simply to play tight at the start! 

Typically, a 10-player tournament will pay prizes to the top 3 places. Around 50% is paid to first place, with 30% and 20% going to second and third. So you don’t always need to win the tournament to end up a winner. Second and third place will often do. 

Moreover, when a player gets eliminated, everyone else gets one step closer to the money. So by playing tight while letting early gamblers eliminate each other. You’ll be a few steps closer to the money without having to do very much!

This strategy only gets you so far, though, as you still need to win chips if you’re to win the tournament. However, at the start, when the blinds are low, there’s no need to play bad hands.


What are bad poker hands?

Bad hands in poker are hands that will only make the second-best hand when it hits!Many hands in poker seem like perfectly acceptable holdings, but in reality, they are trap hands! Trap hands being hands that look great on the surface but will most likely lose you lots of chips in the long run!

Small unsuited aces like A9 offsuit fit this category perfectly. With this hand, if an ace came down on the flop, you might get quite excited and want to put your chips in the middle. Unfortunately, this is how a lot of new players end up exiting a tournament! There are still five bigger ace holdings that have you beat (AT-AK), so you still have to be cautious and keep the pot on the smaller side!


In fact, if all the chips went in the middle on a flop like A72, you’d only have around a 12% chance to win against a bigger ace hand. These are terrible odds for you and a common situation new players find themself in! 

While you’re more likely to put all your chips in the middle when you make a pair of aces, you can also be “outkicked” with smaller pairs too. JT can lose a lot of money to KJ when a J hits the flop. Likewise, QT can lose a lot of chips to AT when a T hits on the flop. 

So our strategy at the start would be to play big hands like AK and AQ to get lots of chips out of smaller aces. You also want to play your smaller hands like JT cautiously at the start when you only make a pair. Ideally, you only put in a lot of chips in the middle when you make 2 pairs or better!

 

Tips for quickly calculating your odds!

Quickly calculating your odds is one way to stand out from the rest of the table. Knowing the odds needed to call with your flush or straight draw is often the difference between making and losing money. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a math genius to use these tips to calculate the odds during a game!

To calculate your odds as a percentage, simply multiply the number of outs you have by two for each street left. For example, if you had a flush draw on the flop. There would be 9 cards of your suit left in the deck, and you still have two streets to hit. Therefore your odds are (2x2) x 9 = 36% chance to hit your flush on the flop. On the turn, you would have 2 x 9 = 18% odds to make your flush from the turn.

In short, there are roughly 50 cards left in the deck after you’ve been dealt your two cards. Therefore each card has around a 2% chance to be dealt on the next card! With this little trick under your belt, you’ll be able to work out your odds instantly and gain an edge at the table!

 

Recap

For any poker night to finish a success, the players must always come first. So make sure they’re well-fed and have plenty of drink to go around. More importantly, having a firm grasp of the rules will ensure a smooth playing experience and a happy table. A card shuffler machine also helps in this regard too. Not only does it take away a job nobody wants to do, but it also means cheating can’t be done when shuffling either!

Suppose you’ve got that covered and want to focus on victory. Playing a tighter range of hands while the blinds are small is the way to go. With fewer chips in the middle and plenty of time left to play - there’s no need to take risks! 

And when you’ve got a tough decision to make on a drawing hand, don’t forget to multiply the number of outs you have by four on the flop and two on the turn! This will let you make the mathematically sound play every time to crush your home game!