Defining Your Holdem Hand

Your hand is defined by the flop. Before the flop you have two cards that may or may not develop into a poker hand. You partially decide your hand when the flop hits. You still have more two cards to come for completing your hand but the possibilities are defined and limited by the flop.

Many online poker website discuss your hand at this point of betting only in terms of poker value. Poker value is absolutely important. In Hold'em, however, the hand's potential to win money is not always related to its poker value. The expression "texture of the flop" is used to refer to how the flop cards combine with your hand and other hold'em poker players ' hands to determine your money-making or money-losing potential. Let's take an example. Suppose you start with AK. It is a very god starting hand. Its value as a starting hand derives from various possibilities of the hand. It can develop into a top pair, a nut flush, a nut straight, or nothing at all. What kind of possibility you can make depends on seeing the three cards on the flop.

There is list of flops:


With each of these flops, aK becomes a different hand. Before you proceed you might want to stop and determine into which of the eight categories of hands, each of these flops suits best. Do not memorize the categories. The particular categories don't matter as much has the idea of looking at the hand's money potential rather than its poker rank.

Reading the Flop

You should be able to decide immediately the strength of your hand as soon as the flop hits on the board. Let's look at the AK example. As said earlier, it is a very good starting poker hand.

Virtually Worthless Hand

When a flop such as T98 hits, your hand all of a sudden doesn't look good anymore. Any pocket pair; any T; 9; 8; two Diamonds ; Q, J; J,7; or 7,6 now has you beaten. Anyone with one Diamond, a Jack or a 7 has a good draw to beat you. Any hand has at least a weak draw to beat you. (They can pair card and win as long as you don't pair.) Because A or K would make a flush for anyone holding a single Diamond, you only have four cards left in the deck that could be possible winning hold'em hand.

Probable Big Winner

When AK7 flops you are in a good shape you possibly have the best hand and you tend to get action from other hands. Even if you are currently beaten by for example, 77 you have still got outs of your own (an Ace, a King or two running Hearts to complete your flush.)
Some part of the value comes from the potential draws other poker players might have. They should have a reason to put money in the pot. With this hand, you will probably get action from a flush draw, from another Ace, or possible someone with a gut-shot draw. It is a good flop and also a potential moneymaker.

Probable Best Hand with Large Loss Potential

With ATT flop you might have the best hand or you might get into a trouble. This is an example of a hand that will win the small pots and lose the large ones. A rival is either has a 10 or not. With this flop there are not a lot of hands worse than AK which you will give much action however, hands better than yours will give you a lot of action. This situation is potentially problematic for you but even when you are beaten in this situation, you do have some outs. Playing with a pair on the board can be difficult.

Probable Winner

With A95 as the flop, you certainly have the best hand, but it is improbable that you will make a lot of money from it. You will get action from another Ace, but it is unlikely a rival will have a strong drawing poker hand.

A Strong Draw

With QJ5 flop, you don't have the best hand in terms of its current poker ranking, but you do have the best hand in terms of potential to win a large pot. This is a good draw, any Heart or 10 will give you a winning hand and any Ace or King will give you a possible winner. You will get action from players who flopped a pair, a straight draw, or perhaps even from someone drawing dead to a second-best flush.

Probable Best Hand with a Strong Draw

With AT5 you not only have the probable best hand, but you have also got a good chance at improvement. It is another example of a best draw.

Weak Draw

With JT7 you have some outs, but it is a weak draw. A Queen as long as it is not Q will give you a winning hand, but that's only three cards. An Ace or King, as long as they aren't Clubs, will give you a possible winner, but the possibility of those cards helping another player even more means you still can't play the hand difficult against many rivals. The hands that are large money winners are those that can be played difficult against a large group of rivals. Many bets combined with many callers lead to very large holdem pots.

Steal Opportunity

With 952 it is not likely for anyone to make much money. A bet will likely win the pot. Even against very loose players, not many hands will fit this flop. Moreover, with your AK even if you are called by someone who paired you possibly still have six outs. If the pot is small, even someone who flopped nine may fold here if you have raised pre-flop, fearing you hold a large overpair.

Things to Consider

In addition to this, there are more three things to consider when evaluating the flop:

1. What better hands others might have
2. What good draws others might have
3. What hands other might have that put them drawing dead

In the first flop i.e. T98 there are a lot of hands that have you beaten. Even if that flop doesn't give anyone a pair, a flush, or a straight, it certainly gives them a draw to one of those hands.
However, aK7 not only gives you the possible best hand it is also unlikely that anyone will improve to beat you. This is an example of a flop that might have another player drawing dead. If another player with an Ace makes two pair, he still loses to your higher two pair. It does give someone to draw to a Diamond flush, but you are a 2-1 favorite against anyone with that draw. This flop, to AK, could generate a large pot, which you will win over 60 percent of the time.

continue: A Theory of Flop Play:Outs and Odds