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Classifying Your Hands for Playing Casino Hold'em Well

By: Rick Balding, Thursday November 27th 2014
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Generally speaking, the value of a casino hold'em hand comes from two main places. The first place it comes from is being able to score a place on the ante payout table the times the dealer doesn't qualify and the times the dealer does qualify but the player wins. The other source of value is from how often it will beat a qualifying dealer hand. Because straights and below all pay at 1:1 and a flush pays at 2:1, having a flush draw adds a drastic amount of value to your hand. This gives us the first classification of casino hold'em hand: flush draws. Any four cards to a flush, even if three of them are on the board, is sufficient to call.

Now suppose we do not have a flush draw, but we do have a pair. A pair on the board doesn't mean much for us except that the dealer will automatically qualify if it's of fours or higher. However, if one of our cards pairs the board, or if we have a pocket pair, then we have a classification of hands that we'll call single pair hands, and they should always be called because of the pure strength of the hand and their ability to improve to stronger holdings (especially if we have one card of our own that pairs with a card from the board).

If we start going down the food chain, then we'll arrive next at open-ended straight draws. These hands should always be played because of the chance of catching a pair with the cards in your hand combined with the chances of catching a straight that will almost always win if the dealer qualifies. What's more is that even if you completely miss everything, the dealer still has a chance to not qualify, and you'll make a small profit on the hand anyway.

The hardest hands are those where you have no pair and no clear draw. From this point, you have to evaluate the strength of your hand based on making pairs and stronger hands. Our point here is that having A-high is not all that stronger than having T-high in this game because you'll never win at showdown with either of those hands. The only advantage you get from that is the times you catch a pair that's stronger than a pair that the dealer catches, and that very rarely happens.

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