In my opinion the greatest thing about hold’em is that there is no singularly correct way to play the game.
One player may thrive as a “by the book” player while another may consistently win as a loose aggressive “donkey.” Recently, I’ve put a lot of thought in to what makes this game so popular over other forms of poker, such as Omaha, seven card stud or even the newly popular pineapple (Texas hold’em dealt three cards to each player and player chooses best two cards).
I struggled to find reasons that could be stated beyond mere personal opinion, until I listened to an old favorite song of mine, “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers. From this song a very famous phrase came to fruition “You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ‘em.”
When I heard these lyrics a light bulb came on in my head and I realized the difference that Texas hold’em had over other poker games. It was the first game that gave players an opportunity to prove that this phrase was not absolute.
In Texas hold’em the cards dealt to each player do not necessarily determine who wins each hand. The variables that come in to play in every hand of hold’em vary from how big your chip stack is, who is chip leader, who is short stack and may push all in, and who has position.
Position is one of the most important factors in Texas hold’em, which naturally affects how each player may or may not play a hand, affects how one plays that hand, and until Texas hold’em came along, this concept had not yet been utilized to its fullest. With position, a hand that is not strong pre-flop can be played strong, can push a bluff to the limit when early position players show weakness, and can be held even when hand strength would say to “fold ‘em.”
Recently I explained my theory to my best friend and got through to her not only for the reasons listed above, as well as one major difference found in hold’em, and other flop games such as Omaha and pineapple, and this major difference are the community cards and what they represent.
I recalled a game of 5-card draw with my family when I was young, when I had four cards to a flush and drew at one card—only to be disappointed to get a jack, which gave me one pair. When my father bet I folded immediately thinking there were so many hands that his five cards could have made, only to show that he had made only a pair of tens. This memory made me think of how that hand would have played out in Texas hold’em, how knowing that he only has two cards as I do and must use the community cards to make his hand.
If I was dealt pocket jacks and the flop came out tenhigh with no flush or straight possibilities, I would feel pretty confident in my hand especially depending on preflop and post-flop aggression. Now let’s say my father had A-T and hit top pair and bet into me. I could win a very big pot as long as another ten or an ace did not hit. However, if I had only a pair of jacks in a poker game with no community information it would be hard for me to have confidence in my hand. Adversely, there can be belief in a hand in hold’em that may not deserve the confidence one has. This confidence, false or authentic, is seen only in hold’em and for these reasons hold’em is a game where there are no absolute answers, and therefore created a new adaptation of learning when to hold ‘em or when to fold ‘em. Until next time, I am OK Sarah and I always Stay Lucky!
You may contact Sarah and OK-J at Oklajohnny@aol. com. Visit Oklahoma Sarah and Oklahoma Johnny at their website— www.OKJohnny.com.