Monthly Archives: September 2007

How to Play Poker Lesson 1: Before the Flop

Lesson 1: Before the Flop


Perhaps the biggest mistake most below average players make is their insistence on playing lousy hands before the flop. There are 1326 possible starting hands in Texas Hold ’em, and only a fraction of those are profitable. Why? Because Hold ’em is a game with community cards, which means the best starting hand will, on the average, finish as the best hand more often than in other poker games.

  Continue reading

Poker Quiz for Beginning Poker Players

Quiz: How well can you read the board?

Knowing when you’re likely to have the best hand, even when you have a great hand can be harder than you might think. One nice thing about playing poker online is that there’s never any doubt about who the winner of a hand is because the software is programmed to determine the best hand. However, it’s important to have a good grasp of how to read the board so you know how to bet. Answer the questions below and then scroll down to check your answers and interpret your results. Think through your answers carefully!

1. On the river, the board reads Ac Kd Ks 9s 6s. What’s the best possible hand you could have?
a. AA in the hole, for aces full of kings.
b. KK in the hole, for four kings.
c. As Qs in the hole, for an ace high flush
d. 66 in the hole for sixes full of aces

2. On the river, the board reads Qs Qh Qc 9s 9h. Which one of the following players has the highest ranking hand?
a. The player with 88 in the hole
b. The player with 77 in the hole
c. The player with A9 in the hole
d. All of the above

3. If the board reads As Kh Ks 6s 5d, which of the following players has the best hand?
a. The player with A3 in the hole
b. The player with A2 in the hole
c. All of the above

4. On the river the board reads 7s 7h 7c 7d Kc. Which player has the best hand?
a. The player with 88 in the hole
b. The player with As Qd in the hole
c. All of the above

5. The board is Ts 6h 6d 5h 2s. Who wins?
a. The player with AT in the hole
b. The player with T5 in the hole


1. Answer: B. The best possible hand, with this board, is four kings. Therefore, a player who has two kings in the hole would have the best hand possible—known in poker circles as ‘the nuts’.

2. Answer: D. All three players are tied. They are all playing the three queens and two nines, for Q’s full of 9’s. Player A is not playing either of his two hole cards, since Q’s full of 9’s is better than Q’s full of 8’s. Similar considerations apply to player B and his pocket 7’s. Player C has a 9 in the hole, yet he would not play it, since to do so would do him no good (note that if he substitutes one of the 9’s on the board for the 9 in his hand he still only has Q’s full of 9’s, and if he chooses to substitute the 9 in his hand for one of the Q’s he now has 9’s full of Q’s, which isn’t as strong as Q’s full of 9’s. Since these are his only two choices if he wants to use the 9 in his hand, there’s no point in doing so).

3. Answer: C. Again, they are tied. Although player A has a better ‘kicker’, he isn’t going to play it. Player A’s best hand is AAKK6, which is the same as player B’s best hand.

4. Answer: B. His best five card hand is 7777A, while player A’s best hand is 7777K. Note that player A’s two eights do him no good. (I elected to use this hand in the quiz since I was once involved in a deal where I had the two eights, and my opponent had the AQ. I took him to four bets on the river, then confidently flipped my hand up. It took about five minutes for the dealer to explain to me why I didn’t win).

5. Answer: A. Her best five card hand is ATT66, while player B’s best hand is TT665. The fact that player B also has a pair of 5’s does him no good.


4-5 Correct
If you answered 4 or 5 of these questions correctly, consider yourself a board-reading expert! You are well on your way to playing like a pro (as well as avoiding expensive and embarrasing situations when playing at brick and mortar rooms).

3 Correct
If you answered three questions correctly you can confidently move on to the next lesson. These are tricky questions after all and it often takes some time to get comfortable with hard-to-read boards like these.

1-2 Correct
If you answered 1 or 2 of these questions correctly, we encourage you to look over the explanations of the correct answers carefully. As long as you understand why the correct answer applies, you should be ready to move on to the next lesson.

0 Correct
If you answered 0 questions correctly, review the hierarchy of hands and the examples in the Getting Started page. Then come back and take the quiz again thinking through each question as you answer.

Beginners & the Basics of Texas Holdem

For the sake of simplicity, we have chosen to explain the rules that you will encounter playing Texas hold’em poker online. These rules also apply to most Texas hold’em poker games you will encounter in brick and mortar casinos but there are a few variations (typically having to do with the blinds) that we won’t go into here. If after reading the rules you are still unclear about how to play, sign up with an online poker room. It is free to sign up and you can play with ‘play money’ until you get the hang of it.

Continue reading

When Not to Slowplay a Poker Hand

I have played a lot of Texas hold em. At last count I had logged somewhere in excess of 800,000 hands in the past eight years, and that number continues to grow every month. Yet even after having played nearly one million hands I still occasionally see a hand played so poorly, by a player who clearly has no understanding of the basic concepts that guide winning play, that I have to stand up and take note. Such a hand took place about three months ago while I was playing at, and I’m going to share this hand with you now.

Continue reading

Poker One Liners

Q: How do you get a professional poker player off your front porch?
A: Pay him for the pizza.

Q: What’s the difference between a professional poker player and a large pepperoni pizza?
A: The pizza can feed a family of four.

I was playing poker with tarot cards the other night. I got a full house, and four people died.

What is the difference between a poker player and a dog?
In about ten years the dog quits whining.

AK = Anna Kournikova. Always looks Great. Never wins.

Q: What’s the difference between someone who prays in church and a poker player who prays after going all in?
A: The player who plays after going all in really means it.

My Mom’s sister fell asleep during a poker game. I yelled “Auntie Up!”

Diagnosis Poker

The doctor answered the phone and heard the familiar voice of a colleague on the other end of the line.

”We need a fourth for poker,” said the friend.

”I’ll be right over,” whispered the doctor.

As he was putting on his coat, his wife asked, ”Is it serious?”

”Oh yes, quite serious,” said the doctor gravely. ”Why there are three doctors there already!”

It’s a Poker Thing

A guy was sitting quietly reading his paper when his wife walked up behind him and whacked him on the head with a magazine.

“What was that for?” he asked.

She shouted, “I overheard you talking to your poker buddies about how great Betty and Barbara were the other night!”

The hubby chuckled as he explained the mix-up: “Two weeks ago I won a huge pot with pocket Queens. I called them Betty and Barbara!”

“Oh honey, I’m sorry,” she said. “I should have known there was a good explanation.”

Three days later he was watching a ballgame on TV when she walked up and hit him in the head again, this time with the iron skillet, which knocked him out cold.

When he came back to he asked, “What in heavens name was that for?”

She replied………..”Your pocket pair just called.”

Poker No, No’s

1. Ask the dealer her bust size.
2. Tip the dealer with fifty pennies.
3. Tell the guy across from you he looks like your older sister.
4. French kiss your pocket kings, or queens.
5. Ask the dealer, are those your real teeth?
6. Tell the dealer your hundred, year old grandmother could deal better.
7. Ask the dealer, do you wear boxers or briefs?
8. If Toby Mcquire is at your table, don’t tell him spiderman is really a wimp.
9. If a person at your table is constantly crying, don’t offer them a tissue.
10. Stick your chewing gum under
the table.


It was a Friday night and my friend Justin decided to have a No-Limit Hold’em tournament at his house. Two of his roommates, Cory and Jamie were there, as well as his friends Ed and myself, Brian. At around 10 p.m., everyone took their seats and the tournament was about to begin. After high-carding for the dealer button, Justin dealt out the first hand.

Everyone started with 60 chips, all of which were the same denomination. The blinds started at 1/2. Justin, first to act, looked down at AK. He raised to 6. Ed, next to act, glances down at KK and re-raised to 15. Cory, Jamie, and I, check our cards and see AQ, AA, and JJ respectively. Cory calls Ed’s 15 chip raise, Jamie goes all-in, and I go all-in as well, followed by surprisingly quick all-in moves by Justin, Ed, and Cory. With nobody wanting to reveal their hands just yet, Justin puts out a flop of As, Kc, Jc. The turn is the Kd, and the river brings the 10c.

The board now looks like this: As, Kc, Jc, Kd, 10c. Unable to contain my excitement any longer, I flip over my pocket Jacks to show a full house, Jacks full of Kings. Justin, re-checking his hand, says “that’s nothing, I’ve got Kings full of Aces”, and reveals his AK. Jamie, still not sure that he believes what he has, turns over his pocket aces and announces, “I have the best full house, Aces full of Kings”.

Jamie, certain that he has won the hand, did not see Ed turn over pocket Kings giving him 4 Kings and what looked like the sure winner. Cory, however, unable to contain himself, slowly turns over the AQ of clubs, giving him the best possible hand, a royal flush. At this point, nobody could understand how this could have happened.

Jamie, now a little suspicious, asks not only to inspect the cards, but also the box that the cards came in. He soon finds the answer. Printed boldly on the box of cards was the word- PINOCHLE.