Poker Lesson 17

The importance of using both hole cards in your hand
In amateur play, one can sometimes see others staying in with a surprisingly weak hand, betting or (more often) calling all the way to the end. Most of these players fail to take into account a very important concept in Texas hold'em, and it is this: That a hand in which you use both your hole cards, is generally much stronger than a hand in which you only use one of them.

In order to illustrate this important concept more clearly, I shall "lay out" exactly the same final hand for you, but in two different ways, like this:

Case #1: Your hole cards are A-A, and the "board" (the five communal cards in the middle of the table) are A-7-4-4-J.

Case #2: Your hole cards are 7-4, and the board is A-A-A-4-10.

As you can see, you have exactly the same final hand in both cases: a full house, consisting of three Aces and two Fours: A-A-A-4-4. What does it take for an opponent to beat your hand, in these respective cases?

In Case #1, there is only one single set of hole cards he or she can have to beat your full house: a pair of Fours, which will give him or her four of a kind. NOTHING else in the entire deck can make you lose the pot. Among the 1326 possible starting hands in hold'em, his is the only one you need to worry about right now, since the board is defined and "locks up" a number of possibilities.

In case #2, there are plenty of hands he or she can have to beat your full house with a higher full house or four of a kind: an Ace with any kicker card, a Ten with any kicker card, or any pair Fives or higher. There are in fact about a hundred possible different hands the other player could have started out with in case #2, and which now beat yours.

Let the above example be an important lesson, now that you understand the principle. Finished five-card hands which include BOTH your hole cards, are much stronger than hands in which you only use one of your hole cards. Thus you always want to hit the flop or the board with both your hole cards; keep this in mind. This concept will come in handy, whenever you are evaluating the strength of your hand during play.