As poker novices, learning and identifying poker hands is one of the primary lessons you will need to learn. Evaluating poker hands is an absolute must while playing a poker game. Poker has a number of variations in which it is played, and each of those variations can be won in several ways by employing a range of strategies. However, one common factor throughout the world of poker that inevitably affects the game is poker hands. Having the best five-card poker hand is what ultimately brings you the pot. Therefore, poker hand evaluation is the technique through which you identify the hole cards you possess, and the potential it bears throughout the course of the game depending on the community cards that show up.
Poker hand probabilities must also be taken into account as each card you hold can turn into a specific poker hand combination only under certain circumstances. One way if not the other, you will have to analyze the poker hands you hold and what are the odds you have to beat your opponents with it. Sophisticated software that are legal to use can be utilized for this purpose. This software is known to players and is allowed in poker rooms wherein the data is read, and they can know the strength of their hands. However, to even get that far, you must first understand the different poker hand rankings.
Texas Hold’em is played widely across the globe, and there are 10 poker hands that are recognized in this format. Let us take a look at those as identifying them is the first step in knowing the strength of your hands.
The Royal Flush
The best poker hand you can possibly have is the Royal Flush which also makes it the rarest of the lot. Here all five cards in your hand belong to the same suit and they have to be in the sequence of Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 10.
When you have all five of your cards from the same suit, and they happen to be in a sequence such as Ah 10h, 9h, 8h, 7h then you are said to have a Straight Flush. The Royal Flush is actually the best possible straight flush.
Four of a Kind
Four of a Kind or Quads are said to be formed when four out of your five cards belong to the same rank. The fifth card belonging to another suit acts as the kicker and plays when there is a tie.
The Full House or Full Boat is a five-card poker hand combination which is built with a pair, matched with a three of a kind. What this means is that you hold two cards of the same suit and three other cards of the same suit to form yourself a full house.
A very strong hand to hold that comes in the middle of the rankings. A Flush is formed when you hold five cards from the same where no sequence is present.
When you hold five cards in a sequence, but those cards happen to be from different suits, you have a Straight in poker. Example: 10s,9h,8c,7d,6h.
Three of a Kind
Holding three cards out of your five-card poker hand that belong to the same rank gives you a Three of a Kind.
When you have two cards belonging to the same rank, and two other such cards of the same rank then you have yourself a Two-Pair.
Similar to the two-pair, here you hold only one of those sets. When you have two cards of the same rank, you have a Pair in poker.
The most undesirable of them all, the high card is considered to be the worst poker hand you can have. When none of the above mentioned nine combinations are met, you have a poker hand with the highest of your lot is regarded as the high card. The Ace is your best high card possible.
How to Evaluate Poker Hands?
Now that you know in brief about the different poker hand combinations you can possibly make in a real game, you are at a position where you can use some poker hand evaluation techniques for your benefit.
Number of Players
While evaluating poker hands, take note of how many players are playing at the table. The more the players, the tougher, will be your decisions in judgement. If you see many players play their hands aggressively, it generally means they have stronger combinations. However, if two players or thereabout are contesting for the pot, you can take your chances with hands like pocket pairs.
Watch out for the moves your opponents make. Poker is not as simple on board as it sounds on poker. Just because someone plays tight doesn’t mean they have weak hands. They could actually be saving a big hand later. Meanwhile, aggressive betters might be out very soon. Analyze the playing style of your opponents in order to evaluate your poker hands and theirs too.
With luck being the genuine factor, there isn’t anything you can do to dictate the community cards unfolding on the table. These cards play a significant role in the poker hands you end up holding. For instance, if you hold a three of a kind, but there are four cards to a flush or straight, then this limits your chances. Similarly, if the board consists of sequence cards with suits not playing a role then you are at an advantage.
Chips on the Table
How many chips are being played at the table has a direct correlation with how many chances your opponents are willing to take. In a game with shallow chips, you will notice that your opponents wouldn’t mind making bold moves and committing their money despite holding weaker hands. In a tournament where stacks run deep, you will not find this happening as much. This could also give you an idea as to what hands your rivals hold.
Technology to Assist Hand Evaluations
Since poker has gone online, most of its play is heavily reliant on technology. Many authentic poker rooms allow for software that help in calculations of poker hand probabilities, odds in a particular street, keep track of opponent’s past moves, data of previously played games against said opponent etc. Similarly, there are tools available for the mathematical poker hand evaluation. Poker has always been about statistics and numbers play are a vital aspect to master the game.
With the help of licensed software, you can easily evaluate your poker hands. These mechanics work in such a manner that they thoroughly examine the prevailing table conditions and look for hand combinations. They work in an algorithm that allows them to match the cards you hold with the hands that could probably come to give you a better understanding of where you rank in the game. These tools test for the best hand rankings possible like the straight flush, flush, etc., until they come all the way down to the high card. The programming is not your concern, but it does help your cause.
Evaluating poker hands is to identify your opportunities and uncover your weaknesses. It gives you a better picture as to what are your limitations in the game and how you can tackle it. We hope this helped you in learning how important it is to evaluate poker hands and how easy it is for you to use it in your next game. If you are new to poker and are still wandering around with unsolved doubt, feel free to visit the official Spartan Poker website where you can learn how to play poker after which you can head on your own poker odyssey.