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Poker Hands

Reading Hands and Situations

Reading hands and situations is a skill that can be mastered only by practice and experience. Over time, you can read many players because they fall into patterns and become predictable. For instance, some players immediately raise before the with strong hands like AA, KK, and AK. These players reveal too much information about their playing styles to their opponents by always playing this way.

What you must constantly look for is betting patterns. Many players bet the same type of hands the same way every time. If you can pick up on their patterns, it will improve your game tremendously. One lesson to be learned from consistency is to occasionally vary your own play so an opponent can't easily read your hands. Usually making a play that is contrary to your normal playing style is only necessary about 5 percent of the time to keep your opponents guessing. This, however, is only necessary in a game with opponents who are paying attention. Poor players rarely notice anything you do out of the ordinary, so just play simple straightforward poker against them.

Another reason it is important to pay close attention to the game is so you will think back about how a hand has been played to the present. Has someone who has been checking and calling suddenly raised? You need to answer these questions in order to recognize and read situations at the poker table.

Poker is a thinking man's game. To be truly successful, you have to stay one step ahead of your opponents at all times. If you practice the tips and suggestions in this article, you will be able to read other poker players like an open book.

Best to WorstPoker Hand Ranking Order

•  Royal Flush An ace high straight flush of any suit. AKQJT.
A royal flush is the strongest possible poker hand in a standard game of poker. It consists of the Ten, Jack, Queen, King and Ace of the same suit.

A Royal Flush cannot be beaten in Texas Hold'em or Omaha , and can only be tied in Stud (as more than one player can theoretically hold a royal flush of different suits in the same hand). The odds of flopping a royal flush in Hold'em are 1 in 649,740 so don't hold your breath looking to hit the royal if you happen to be dealt AhQh or any other two-card combination needed to make the premium hand.

•  Straight Flush - A straight flush is any straight in the same suit that is not a Royal Flush (e.g. QJT98 of the same suit). The chance of making a straight flush is rare, but it sure feels good when it happens. The only bad beat jackpot I ever hit was when I had a straight flush. Unfortunately for me, I had the best hand and won the pot. If I had the losing hand, I would have won a much larger share of the jackpot.

•  Four of a Kind - A four of a kind is when you have four cards of the same rank (8888). I can only think of one occasion when you wouldn't want four of a kind. If you are playing Omaha , you do not want the four hole cards dealt to you to be of the same rank. In this game, you must play two cards out of your hand, so if you have a starting hand of AAAA, only two of them are of any value.

•  Full House - A Full House is three of a kind combined with a pair (KKK44). The example hand would be Kings full of fours. If two people have full houses, the player with the higher three of a kind wins. It is very rare to see two players chop when they have full houses. The only time you will see a chop is when there are community cards in play (like in Texas Holdem).

•  Flush - A flush is any five cards of the same suit that are not in sequence (QJ765 of Spades). If two people have flushes, the player with the highest flush card is the winner.

•  Straight - Straights are poker hands with any five cards in sequence that are not of the same suit (98765 unsuited).

•  Three of a Kind - Three of a kind is when a player has three cards of the same rank (777). The two most popular poker terms used to describe three of a kind are "set" and "trips". Many players use the terms interchangeably, but there is a difference. A set is when the player holds a pocket pair in their hand and there is one of their rank on the board. Trips is when a player holds one of a rank and there are two more on the board.

•  Two Pair - Two pair is exactly what it sounds like (e.g. QQ99). If two players have two pair, the player with the highest ranking pair wins the pot. If both players have the same top pair, then their second pair comes into play.

•  One Pair - A pair is two cards of the same rank (99). If two players have a pair, then the player with the highest ranking pair wins. If both players have the same pair, then kickers (highest card that doesn't coordinate) come into play.

•  High Card - When a poker hand has no combination (see above), the player with the highest card wins. If two or more players have the same high card, the tie is broken by the second highest card and so on. Although this is the weakest hand, it feels good to win a pot with only a high card. I remember one hand where I tried to bluff a player out of a pot and did not succeed. He showed that he missed his flush draw and he only had Jack high. I proudly turned over my King high and took in a huge pot.

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