Learn Poker


Hole Reversal: Playing with bad hole cards

Poker doesn’t bless you with good hole cards each hand you play. Hole cards? The two cards that you are dealt at the start of each hand. If you have read our other blogs, you must have read the best hole cards in poker, and the worst. The best part about poker? You may be dealt the best hole cards, being pocket aces (A-A), pocket kings (K-K), pocket queens (Q-Q), Cowboys (A-K suited), and the likes.

However, the worst part about poker is that you can also be dealt the worst hole cards. These are: two-seven off suited, two-eight off suited, three-eight off suited, two-nine off suited, and as we wrote in our answer sheets… etcetera, etcetera! But if you’re a really good player, and have been playing for a while, you know that this is not the worst part about poker.

Capitalizing on cards

The worst part about poker is playing these cards in a bad manner. If you cannot bank upon bad hole cards, you’re not learning poker. And that’s where we come in. We would like you to know, and believe it to be a thumb rule, that bad hole cards are not really bad hole cards unless you don’t play them well. If you can capitalize two-seven offsuit, and win a hand, even if the other players have pocket aces or pocket kings, you’re the ace/king at the table!

However, you have recently started playing poker. You don’t know what we are talking about. Or you don’t know how to go about making the worst hole cards work in your favor, the next few paragraphs are written for you. Keep reading.

The four rounds of betting

You have four rounds of betting- Pre-flop, Post-flop, Post-turn and finally Post-river betting. Each round of betting is for you to make the other person believe you have the best hand, or the nuts. However, you may get real good hole cards, and make them think otherwise. That way they will raise, and gift the hand (and the pot) to you. But we are talking about bad hole cards, so we won’t go there.



Now, you were dealt a two-seven offsuit, or a two-eight off suit. And you are planning to bluff. You can start by just calling at the pre-flop, or betting a minimum bet. That gives you a good start. The other players know that you are here to stay, but don’t want them to know that you have good cards. That is what they believe, any way. Throughout the hand, you have got to make them believe in your cards.

A quick tip: A lot of good players don’t fold pre-flop, just to see what the flop holds for them. Unless of course, the pre-flop bet of another player is too high to bank on the hole cards.

The flop

The flop takes place. You can either get a good hand, if the flop has a two and seven, or a pair of either. That will change your entire perspective of bad hole cards. Anyway, that’s the first scenario. But it may be unlikely. So we go on to the next scenario. The flop is full of face cards. Just call, or make another small bet. Play smoothly and smartly. You don’t wish to bet too high, only to find another player holding a three-of-a-kind on the flop!

But then, you have to see how much the other person has bet as well. A good bet on the flop may either mean that the other player is holding incredibly good cards. It may also mean that he’s in the same boat as you. That is… he’s bluffing. If he’s bluffing, that’s all the better for you. So, you have to call or bet, or raise accordingly.

The turn

Now, the turn card is also open. You have a deuce on the board. But you can’t do jack with it (of course you can’t… it’s a deuce!). You are holding the lowest pair. That’s when you raise a little higher. That will throw the other players into confusion. You don’t expect someone to raise on a deuce pair. So, either you’re holding two pairs, with deuce being one of them. Or you may have a set of deuces! Well, according to them.

The river

Then comes the last round of betting, i.e. the river card has been turned face up. This is where you have to see how the entire table is betting. You have to gauge whether the other players are in your fist, and believe that you have a better hand than they are holding, or you’re bluffing. Your entire strategy will go to waste if you don’t bet well in this round. Unless you have folded already. Betting on this round will make your bad hole cards, the best cards on the table.

Pro-tip: Banking on bad hole cards need not always mean that you have to play those cards. A good fold is better than playing on hole cards when you know you aren’t winning. So, banking on bad cards includes folding those cards.

Remember, bad cards are bad only if you make them bad. Otherwise, there is hardly anything such as bad hole cards. So… poker on!



Shikha Tripathi

A social media strategist and an avid poker enthusiast, she loves taking risks and so is naturally aggressive on the poker table.