HOLD’EM POKER GUIDE - For One-Better-Than Beginner Players – PART 1


So, you’ve started your Texas Hold’em Poker journey, maybe you came across a professional Daniel Negreanu on a tournament against Phil Hellmuth loved their dynamic, or you’ve seen outplays and how physicals tells effects the decision of a poker player and that pulled you into this world of cards, bad beats, coolers, hero calls and everything in between.

You’ve started to learn basic rules of the game, learned a few basic terms and you still don’t know what to do, you hit a flush but some guy beat you because he had a pair on a 3-of-a-kind board and your flush got worthless, you felt like world is unfair and cruel place and don’t know what to do next. You started researching, then realized how much you don’t know and you need a guide in this sea of information. This article is just for you.

-Concept of “Nuts”

This is the first thing we need to establish, most of the beginning players look at their cards, look at the cards on the board and think “Oh, I have a straight, it is strong so I’m gonna win, I’m gonna call every bet and go all-in on the river” This is the biggest mistake of amateur poker players.

Straight part is just an example, it goes for every other poker hands. Let’s continue from the straight example:

Let’s say you have 6-5 suited, you were in mid-to-late position and decided to open for 3 bbs (big blinds) and got action from 3 players, which you’re out of position to (means you act before) all three. Flop comes:

4d 7s 8c (s: Spades, d: Diamonds, c: Clubs, h: Hearts)

You flopped your straight! It’s amazing, it is a rainbow (every card on the flop is different suit) which mean no possible flushes that beats your straight and you have the highest straight possible, which is 4 to 8, YOU HAVE THE NUTS! Of course, you bet it, one player folds, other two calls, maybe they have 2 over cards or top pair, who knows or cares, you have the nuts! Then the turn comes:


You think: “Okay, a Jack, big fricking deal, let’s keep betting, and you know what, let’s bet the damn pot!” You bet the pot, both of those players calls… YOU LOVE IT! Dealer puts the final card on the table, the river is:


So, the final shape of the board is:

4d 7s 8c Js 4s

You take a one look at the board, daydream about the chips you gonna get and hope that they will call your big fat pot sized bet. You bet, then one player calls, music to your ears, other one moves all-in. you don’t think much, you have a bad feeling but you can’t fold this! You call, the other player folds and you turn over your cards, but he turns over pocket 8’s: 8’s full off 4’s, which destroys a straight. You hear the guy who folded to all in mumbling about how he had 10-9, which means he turned a better straight than yours and he folded it on the river.

So, what went wrong? One minute you have the best hand possible and some two stupid cards came and your great hand got ruined! Damn you poker Gods! Yeah? NO.

When you play poker, you know the rules, and how the game works. We must have some sense that what we flop best, might not stay the same. To figure out if you still have the best hand, you need to play little less straight forward, no pun intended, and we have to pay attention.

When you bet on the flop and a player decides to continue, you have to know what that means on a dry board like that. Chasing a stand-alone backdoor flush is stupid so they’d fold if they didn’t really connect (also) in a stronger way. Those stronger ways are on a flop like that is: Top pair, two pair, a set, straight draw and that’s pretty much it. Yeah, they can sometimes float (call the bet on the flop and/or turn with nothing) with intentions of bluffing. But that’s a variable that you need to consider in context of how often that specific player does that and do you have a read on them to make that assumption.

On that example board of ours, on the flop you had the nuts. When the turn came, it put a flush draw and 10-9 hit a bigger straight than yours. So, you had the second nuts at that point. On the river, that straight of yours was just a little better than a bluff-catcher, any other real value bet there was beating your hand: There was a flush possible, board was paired so someone with a set or (specific) two pair improved to a full house, and even though it’s not very likely most of the time, someone with pocket 5’s improved to a quad 5’s which is the nuts on that board. Second nuts is pocket jacks, jacks full of 5’s. As a practice, you try to find how many hands were beating yours and leave it as a comment. A hint, it’s a lot.

I know, now you guys are saying “Should I fold anything other than the nuts? Why are you telling us these things?” That is not what I’m saying. This is an example of what’s called a cooler, very strong hands clashing and it does not happen often, but it happens often enough to be careful, how so?

When you have a strong hand but it’s way behind of, what-could-be-the-next-nuts of that board and you think your opponent is strong too (they don’t fold to pot-sized bets, they raise etc.) so you think that they are on a draw, or they have a set/two pair. When some of those draws come, or board pairs, you stop betting! You go into the check call or fold mode. On the river, if they go all-in or raise huge, it polarizes their hand: It’s either very strong hand that beats marginal hands (like yours) or nothing. So, which one you chose? Fold the winner, or call and lose huge? That’s the part, that’s the decision what makes a good player different from an average/bad one. This part has a lot more to it, I can keep going on and on about it but we have more to cover, on the next part or two of this article, I’ll go into more details.

-Board Texture

We touched on this subject a little bit on the previous part, bit this is beyond from just the nuts, the best possible hand on the board. It is more about what group of hands are the boss depending on the… BOARD TEXTURE

We all know (or, we all must know) the 10 hands in poker: (In order)

1-High Card,


3-Two Pair,

4-3 of a Kind (Set, Trips),



7-Boat (Full House)

8-Quads (4 of a kind),

9-Straight Flush and

10-Royal Flush

And we play the best 5 cards possible using both, one or none of the 2 cards that dealt to us and the rest from the board. This part is more important that it sounds and what makes the “Texas” part of the Hold’em Poker.

Why it is the “Texas” part? I’ll tell you why! You have J-10 of clubs, flop comes two clubs, you bet it, then turn comes a club, you made your flush, great! You bet again but someone sticks around to see the river, and it is another club. Guy or Gal who sticked around puts all-in, you call and he shows you the one and only club in his/her hand which is Ace of Clubs. That’s why it’s TEXAS. They don’t care if you have two!

Alright, it was a fun side-track but let’s get down to business, board texture tells you which hands are the best and/or goes up in value, which ones loses their strength and it determines how you should play (including how you bluff), should you bet, raise, check call, check behind etc.

1-Dryest Board Ever:

This is the most boring and yet one of the rarest (I’ve seen so little of these) boards ever. Only first 4 hands are possible here, and the 4th one (set) with the highest card on the table is the nuts, for example:

Ad Ks 2c 6h 9c

Go ahead, try it, those are the only hands you can make on this board. This is an uncoordinated (no 3 or more cards in value that close to each other) dry (no 3 or more cards that are in the same suit present) board. Since set is not something that occurs often, top pair top kicker, top pair good kicker and two pair types of hands will be good a lot of the times. If you have a set on this board, since having set over set is so unlikely, even if you have the set of 2’s (with pocket 2’s), you’ll end up a winner. Someone with the Pocket Aces will have set of Aces and it is the nuts of this table, but you can deduct if someone has a big pocket pair from their pre-flop behaviour.

2-Dry and Coordinated Board:

On this board, 5th hand is possible: Straight. (Do you see the pattern here?)

Same basics as the dry board but a value of a set goes down on this type of board, you can’t go crazy and bet it all on a board like that or raise someone’s value bet on the river, because you don’t have that strong of a hand anymore. For example:

Qs 7d 8h 6s 3c

Three combos of hands have a straight here, 4-5 (7 high straight), 9-5 (9 high straight) and the nuts, 10-9, with 10 high, the highest straight on the board. YEAH, the high card matters on straight. Just like every other hand, so when you see on the screen “Straight, 7 hig… ALL-IN” you should think and look at the board, are there any higher straights possible? If so, you don’t fold that hand out of turn of course, but you should small ball, keep the pot in control by checking and calling if you suspect they have a possibility of having a better straight than yours. Even if you don’t, you should never go all-in anything less than nuts here. You can call all-ins but making a polarizing move with marginal hands will be damaging you in the long run, players who sees this will be exploiting you, waiting for you to shove with 4-5 or a set there so they can rub the nuts or better hands in your face. This is true for every type of boards.

Note: Ace can be used 1 or 14. A-2-3-4-5 is the lowest straight possible, called “Wheel” and 10-J-Q-K-A is the biggest straight possible, it is Ace high straight and called “Broadway”.

You can think of J as 11, Q as 12 and K as 13.

Important Note: When there is a one card (one specific card that can make straight, like 6-7-9-10) or four card straight (four connected cards like 4-5-6-7 on the board), it’s obvious that someone having a straight is pretty likely, lowest end of the straight, like having a 3 on a 4-5-6-7 board, is barely adequate to check call, NEVER TO RAISE OR GO ALL-IN, because also it’s too strong to bluff with it, and too weak to really value bet it. You just have to get to showdown as cheaply as possible. I’m gonna explain this concept in more detail on the 2nd Part of this article.

8-9 has the highest straight on that board, a 9 is just good enough to value bet it.

When you hit a straight, and then you see that one of your cards come off, the strength of your straight drops significantly, because it puts a one card straight on the board, and best scenario, you’re chopping, worst scenario, someone just made a bigger straight than yours.

3-Wet Board:

This is a board that’s our 6th hand is possible: Flush. The main thing you need to know here is A-high flush is the highest flush, but with 3 cards from a same suit is on the board, it’s little less likely to (but more likely than to have set over set) have flush over flush, so you can be comfortable betting your flush draws and flushes. I’m gonna speed up from now on, I think we don’t need to see an example board of a flush, it’s a pretty simple hand.

One thing to be wary on these types of boards is that when there is a 4 card flush on the board, which means anyone with a single suit that connects with a board has a flush, and on those kinds of boards, except Ace and King (of that suit) on your hand, you should check call at best, anyone can beat you easily, it’s better to fold to a well-executed bluff than pay-off an Ace-high flush. On these types of boards, sets and pairs and two pairs are just bluff-catchers. And that’s barely, they might be bluffing with a low-flush putting you on a middle-card-high flush.

Same thing goes for when there’s a flush on the board, which means all 5 cards are the same suit, only difference here is this, if you have a card (with same suit obviously) that’s higher than one or some of them, value of your hand is increased because you don’t chop against players without of that suit of card and since 5 of them on the board, you have one or two of them, it makes it less likely to have other players to have one. Use this information wisely.

4-Paired Board:

This board sucks. You make a straight or flush with your teeth and nails, finally got there and some guy with two pair or a set makes a Full House, which is our 7th hand, and destroys all those hands below it. Also, even though it’s rare, our 8th hand is possible here too: Quads. But if you have trips (trips is when you make a 3 of a kind 2 cards from the board and one from your hand, little different than a set) you know no one has quads.

As the name suggests, there is a pair on the board, example:

Js 4d 10d 9d 4h

Two 4s on the board, which means Boats (3-of-a-kind + Pair) and trips will be present here, so be careful with your straights and flushes, if it is a paired board on the flop, and you have a flush draw, someone comes out firing, it’s better you fold, you might already be drawing dead.

The thing you gotta pay attention here, is the pair on the board the highest cards? If they are, for example, on that “example” board, A set of Jacks improves to a full house on the river, and we look at the 3-of-a-kind part first to determine which full house is the highest, so it is the nuts full-house on this board. But, if it was Queens instead of 4’s on the board, then full-houses with the sets would be behind the two-pairs that improved (or flopped) to boats. Let’s say two players had Queens full… of what? Now that determines the winner, Queens full of Jacks would be the nuts on that particular board that we created from our imagination. Or if you have Queens full of X’s, you can be comfortable against sets that improved to boats.

One fun thing about this board is this, let’s say you made a two pair with low cards and your opponent has AA or KK, while you were ahead for a minute, now they got you because they technically also have to pair and the winner of two-pair against two-pair is the one with the highest pair. Even if you have KKQQ, if they have AA22, you’re beat. It’s called getting your hand counterfeited.

5-Double Paired Board:

At least, on the paired board, straights and flushes are good fair number of times because full-houses aren’t that easy to come by. But on this board, flushes and straights are merely a bluff catcher. It is the dreaded double paired board.

Kd 3s 4s 3d 4h 2s

As you can see, this is a wet and coordinated board, but it is double paired. Which means, someone with a (basically) pair of 3’s or 4’s beats you because they technically have full houses. It is a board that many full houses can clash, same idea with the paired board, you gotta pay attention to the highness of the pairs, you having 4 (4’s full) on this board doesn’t give you the nuts, you can (and should) consider folding 3’s full too, and hitting your set of 2’s on the river probably the worst thing that’ll ever happen to you, because any other boats beats you, you have the lowest full house with 2’s full. Set of K’s improved to K’s full is the nuts full-house here.

But Full-house over Full-house isn’t the only thing can happen here, it is very unlikely but you can have quads over quads on this board, which have happened, you can type it on YouTube, and the quads with the higher cards wins, it is the pinnacle of the bad beats. This board hates almost everyone, no one is safe.

But the fun thing about this board is, if you put your opponent on nothing, which is easier to do that on this board because of the less diversity of the cards, you can make hero calls with A-high more easily.

One extra thing, if you have a pair that’s lower than both of the pairs on the board… Guess what, you don’t have a pair anymore, you’re playing the board and an A-high or a hand with a higher card than yours beats you, your hand is counterfeited and it sucks when you lose to a AK-high with pre-flop all-in when you think your pocket 6’es are holding, then you see Qs 9d Qh 9s 3c on the board. Ugh.

6- 3-of-a-kind Board:

One of the easiest boards to play. Either you have it or not, it’s that simple. Example:

9s 9d 9h Js 6s

Flushes and straights are worthless here, even some of the bluffs could beat them (they put you on a K, but they have a 6 and they are wrapping quads).

Obvious thing here is the quads, this is the easiest board to make quads but it’s still less of a chance so you can value bet your pairs… I mean your Full-Houses. Yes, pairs are here technically boats.

Things to be careful about these types of boards are, big pocket pairs, you can have 9’s full of Jacks here, (have a pair of Jack basically) but someone can have QQ, KK, AA and all of them beats you, they are the ones who pays a quad’s value bets. One more thing, if someone has pocket Jacks, (basically, having a set of cards that are higher than the 3 cards on the board) that hand has the best and the better full-house, it is the second nuts after quads.

Same thing goes for this board, if you put your opponent on nothing, you also have nothing but A-high, it is easier to make hero calls.

7- 4 Of A Kind Board:

I love this board, every hand is counterfeited, A-high is the best hand on this board, if the 5th card is an Ace, everyone chops the pot, unless they fold. This happened to me once, board was:

5s 5d Ac 5h 5c

I went all-in on the river and someone folded! This is exactly why you should learn the rules, board textures and which hands are the best etc. very well. If you see a board like this, just go all-in, they might fold. If you have A-high, don’t even think about it, go all-in because they might call thinking you’re trying to bluff them off a chop, especially the 5th card is one of the big cards like a King or Queen.

8-Putting Everything Together:

When I showed examples, I always put five cards. But, as we all know, we start from three cards to graduate to five. Board textures can change with each card coming and each card that has come, or haven’t come, will affect how everyone plays. It could be dry and uncoordinated board on the flop and with a set you can have the nuts. But if you play cute, decide to check to be deceptive, on the river you might regret not putting a bet and folding some of those hands. Because someone will or might pick up a flush and/or straight draws, and they will stick around to see the river. All that’s because you checked the flop and gave them a free card. Also, when you check, you miss out on value. Because by the time you all get to river, everyone knows where they are at as strength-wise and they can easily fold. But on the flop and turn, they might just chase those sweet flushes and straights or look to improve with a one pair.

I gave the set as an example. As a beginner player, you should be more focused on protecting your hand than trying to trap. As you improve on your post-flop abilities along the way, then you might try to pull some of those moves. But, checking a pair of Aces on the flop with three more people on the pot is not a good move, and you guys deserve to get punished with dumbest two-pairs or weirdest one card straights.

This is all for now, second part of this will come, this article got longer that I anticipated. So, I’ll be chopping the concepts up. On the second part, we’ll get into more of how to’s of the play: Starting with the thin value bets, what kind of hands to play, bet-sizing, position, maximizing value and minimizing losses.



What a great article, wonderful tips, etc. My problem is trying to consider all of this info and still have time to make a fold, call or bet in 12 seconds . Guess I should play the longer games where you have a minute or so to act.

1 Like

Thank you!

Short time to think is always a bad thing, you can miss so much and poker is a game where you should be doing a lot of thinking :slight_smile: At least initially, these concepts will become second nature after some time, then you can play quick but with a limit ofc.