No Limit Texas Hold’em, Breakdown of Hands

Now, we’re going to go further in-depth with a breakdown of all Post-Flop hand types.

The Nuts

We just discussed the importance of the Nuts, but we’re going to touch further on the topic here. As mentioned above, the Nuts is the best possible hand a player can have, according to the Community Cards on the board. Most often, the Nuts will be a Set, Straight, Flush or even Quads.

If you have the Nuts, either bet/raise/re-raise to draw more chips into the pot; or if you’re up against timid competition, bet/raise low and try to keep them from Folding out early.

Beware of the Almost-Nuts! By this I mean if you have the Flush, but not the Ace, you do not have the Nuts. For example, you hold K-J of spades, and three more Spades fall on the Flop, but not the Ace. You have the Almost-Nuts, with a King-High Flush, but someone else could easily be holding the Ace and quite possible was playing Aces from the button giving them the opporunity to chase that fourth spade. Watch closely for your opponents to make a big Raise/Re-Raise. If you know your opponent to be a very tight player, you can safely assume he has the Nuts. If, on the other hand, he is a known bluffer, or plays weak hands regularly, it’s probably safe to assume you have the best hand.

Nut Draws are also very strong hands to move on with. A Nut Draw is when you are one card shy of holding the Nuts, requiring the Turn or River to reveal your desired card. If you simply have a standard Draw Hand (not the Nuts), you’ll need to determine your hand strength, should you hit the draw, by your opponents’ behavior and bet size(s). The same goes for Nut Draw hands, but allows you to be more flexible in your decision making. Make sure you understand pot odds before committing yourself to the hands.

Pairs – Top Pair, Middle Par, Bottom Pair

There are three kinds of Pairs you can hit after the Flop – Top Pair, Middle Pair and Bottom Pair. Each name is designated to the respective Flop card – the highest, middle and lowest.

For example, if the Flop comes down 4-K-9…
Top Pair: K-K
Middle Pair: 9-9
Bottom Pair: 4-4

The strength of a hand that Pairs the Board (one in your hand, one of the board) relies on two things – the size of the Pair and your Kicker. The Kicker is the other card in your Hand. Obviously, an Ace kicker is best. If you hold Top Pair with an Ace Kicker, you’ll want to move onto the Turn, but don’t overbet the pot in the process. If the board offers same suits and sequences, bet the amount of the pot to eliminate Draw hands (make them Fold). If it is not suited and/or sequenced, your hand becomes stronger and obligates a larger bet/raise.

Middle Pair with Ace Kicker warrants moving on to the Turn, but only if it is not too expensive to do so. Respect high bets from strong players and bow out if the cost becomes too high. If weak players remain, move forward with caution.

Two Pair – Top and Middle Pair, Top and Bottom Pair

A strong Two Pair hand is one where both hole cards have Paired the Board. If you’ve hit Top Pair and Middle Pair, or Top Pair and Bottom Pair, you’ll want to run with it, but your bet/raise depends on the board.

If the board is suited and/or sequenced, you’ll need to bet high to scare out Draw hands. Don’t be afraid to overbet the pot in this situation.

If the board is not suited or sequenced, feel free to slow-play the hand, placing normal bets and small raises to keep your opponents filtering chips into the pot. You won’t be tossing too many chips, but the profit potential can be great.

Sets (3 of a Kind) – Top Set, Middle Set and Low Set.

When holding Top Set, you have a pretty strong hand, but is it strong enough to win? Again, you must determine the Nuts. If the board rainbows (no same suit) and does not connect (cards are far from sequencing), Top Set becomes very strong. Two Pairs, including a Top Pair, are also strong. This is when you are advised to slow-play the pot. Make small bets or call current bets to encourage more player to stay in, thereby building up a big win.

If the cards are suited/connected, you’ll have to make a big move to win the pot. Draw hands won’t be easily swayed to Fold without proper persuasion. Bet high, 6x to 9x the Big Blind at most, and those holding Draw Hands will be much more inclined to Fold out.


An Over-Pair is when you have Pocket Pairs that are higher than any card on the Flop. For example, you hold Q-Q and the Flop comes down with J high. Over-Pairs should be played slowly in most cases to extort as many chips as possible from your opponents before they bail out.

If the board is not suited or connected, and you’re up against one or two players, slow-play it to earn more chips. If your Over-Pair isn’t very high (J-J or lower), try to take the pot down immediately with big bets/raises before someone else draws a better hand on the Turn.

If the board is suited/connected, beware of strong players with big bets. They probably have the hand, or at least good enough odds to draw the better hand.

Draw Hands – Count Your Outs

When you get a strong Draw Hand, especially the Nut Draw, the first thing you need to do is decide how many Outs you have. An Out is a card that will complete your Draw Hand. The cards are always in your favor if you have 9 or more Outs.

For example, you have Ah-Jh in the hole, and the board Flops Qh-Tc-8h

Any K or 9 will complete the Straight, there’s 8 Outs right there. Any heart would complete the Flush, there’s another 9 Outs, totally 17 Outs. This is a very strong Draw Hand and should be played. From late position, you have an even better advantage since you can read your opponents’ actions before making a move.

Let’s change the 8h on the Flop to 4h. You still have 13 Outs (any Heart or K) to work with. Anytime you have 9 or more Outs, your odds are good enough to move on. But don’t get lost in the possibilities and forget to watch the other players.

If you’re drawing to the Nuts, you can feel much more confident, calling moderate raises and even placing one of your own. If you’re not drawing to the Nuts, be ready to fold to a big bet/raise.

Anything less than 9 Outs usually has you chasing the pot with second best hand. The pot odds are too low to move on. Fold and wait for a better hand.


Over-Card hands have very little value in most cases and should only be played cautiously, if at all. Like Over-Pairs, Over-Cards occur when your hole cards are both higher than any card on the flop, leaving you with high card and nothing more. Chances are someone has at least paired the board, but they may undervalue their holdings with something like T-T or lower. This leaves them vulnerable to the bluff, especially if you’ve followed this poker strategy guide, depicting yourself as a tight player. Your opponents will believe you must have something if you’re moving on at this point.

Betting 70-80% of the pot at this point should give your opponents the impression you have Over-Pair, giving you the chance to steal blinds and raises, but be careful. The more opponents you face, the less likely you are to succeed. If more than 2 opponents are still in the pot, simply Fold and maintain your patience.

No Limit Hold’em – The Turn

Your actions at this point obviously depend upon how well your hand has grown. If you’ve hit your Nut Draw Hand, go for the gold. If you’ve hit a normal Draw Hand, determine the likeliness of your opponents hitting a better Draw and watch closely their betting actions. If you’ve missed the Draw, there’s still one more chance on the River, but the odds drop significantly. Everything depends on the cost of staying in at this point.

If you hold a mediocre hand, don’t bother calling a big bet. Let the pot go unless you’re up against a known bluffer.

No Limit Texas Hold’em – The River

At this point, your decision is pretty simple. If you believe you’ve won the Showdown, Bet; if not, Fold.

If you’re betting, you must think you have the pot in the bag, so try to figure out what your opponents have and bet as much as you think they will call. If a scare card, like A or K, falls on the River, don’t bet too high or your opponents will drop out.

If you suspect your opponent has missed a Draw hand, Check to them to entice a bluff. If you bet, they will Fold anyway, so you only stand to earn more by doing so.

If you hit the Nut Draw, a pot-size bet, or even a little more, will often bring several Calls. You can try going all-In, but only a player with substantially more chips than you will be remotely inclined to Call it.