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This section contains strategies for all the main variations of poker found in online casinos. 

They are brought to you courtesy of Max Drayman, from Winneronline.  Max is considered the world's expert on online (and land based) casinos.  His regular column "Ask Max" can be found at

To navigate this section, simply select the topic you wish to view, if you want to move back to the index, click on 'Back to Index'




7 Card Stud Poker

Caribbean Stud Poker

Draw Poker

Let it Ride Poker

Omaha Hi Poker

Pai Gow Poker

Red Dog Poker

Texas Hold 'Em Poker

Poker Hand Rankings


7 Card Stud Poker


7-Card Stud is one of the most demanding Poker games. There are a lot of cards on the table, each street demands a different approach, and the betting can move from modest to sweat-breaking in minutes. It's a skill, memory and strategy game that can be exhilarating, punishing and even humiliating. Our strategy guide will help you enjoy more of the former and suffer less of the latter.

Bankroll Management
As mentioned in our Stud Rules section, the minimum Buy-In is typically 10-times the low limit, or $20 for a $2-$4 game. But playing with the minimum is not recommended. Using the 40-times recommendation, the player should buy in with a minimum of $80 for the $2-$4 games, $320 for the $8-$16 games, and $400 for the $10-$20.

You can always play with less, but the chances are you won't have enough to see you through to the point where you've got a feel for the other players and can bring your skills to bear. If you're underfunded you'll be nervous and therefore at a disadvantage right off the top.

Choosing a Game
Stud games are defined by their betting limits. The low stakes online games are usually $2-$4 while the higher games are typically $8-$16 or $10-$20. I've seen land casino Stud at $100-$200 or higher, but these stakes are very rare on the web.

The game's betting limits tell the Stud player pretty much everything they need to know about the nature of the game, the expectations of the players, and the size of the bankroll you should have before you sit in.

The Ante
As mentioned in the Rules Section the usual Ante in the lower-end games is 10% of the low betting limit. When the betting limits climb so does this percentage, up to 25% or so. These higher percentage Antes actually change the nature of the game. The proportionally larger pot makes it worthwhile to come in strong in an attempt to "steal" the Antes.

Different games, different strategies
When stealing the Ante becomes a worthwhile proposition, the speed and intensity of play also increases, which in turn requires a shift in playing strategy. Stud players traditionally find it difficult to make the transition to the higher betting limits precisely because of this change.

Level of play
It should come as no surprise that the big games attract the big players. A rookie can and will get eaten alive by the sharks at the $100-$200 tables without learning much in the process. What's the point of that? Remember, Stud is a skill game and overestimating yours will cost you money.

Playing the Cards
A major part of any winning player's strategy has to be card memory and card analysis. Studying what's on the table and what it could mean is critical in Stud. You must observe the upcards in each street and ask yourself:

does it help or hurt your chances?
does it help or hurt the receiving player's chances?
does it help or hurt the other player's chances?

Three of a Kind (a.k.a Trips, "a set") is the best opening hand in 7-Card Stud and the higher the rank the better. They can often win you the round without improvement and leave you great flexibility in your betting and positioning in the coming streets.

If anyone at the table knew you held Trips right off, they'd almost certainly Fold. The usual recommendation is to take it slow and hide what you've got. Bet modestly, Check or Call as necessary, until you're in the high streets (5-7th) where you can drag more money into the pot.

You want to keep as many players in as long as possible because you're probably going to beat them. This is called the "slow play" and is designed to maximize the pot.

If you're holding a set of "scare cards" (Aces or Kings), or highest door card, keep in mind that everyone is expecting you to Raise, so if you don't they're going to wonder what's up. With anything other than the scare cards there's no need to bother.

At "the turn" (fourth street) you continue to play modestly, keeping the other players in.

Once you hit fifth it's time to make the others pay to stay. If they're still in at the fifth, the chances are that they'll want to see the "river" (seventh street) and won't be scared off by the steeper action you provide.

As ever, watch the opponents cards watching for anything that could honestly threaten your potential win.

High Pairs
After Trips, a High Pair (10s or better) is the best starting hand you could hope for. If the paired cards are in the hole (face down) that's even better: open cards are worth less since the others can see or surmise what you've got. This is a solid position for an opening Bet or Raise or even a re-Raise if you hold highest door, J or better.

Don't be afraid of strong betting in third and fourth streets because you want to eliminate as many players as possible while it's cheap to do so. You still need to improve on your hand so you don't want anyone to pull cards for free.

If there are better door cards on the table--you've got holed Queens and there's a King and Ace on the table--it's probably wise to leave it at a single Raise. If it's two Aces, for example, on the table then don't hesitate since it's already looking like a broken threat.

If you door card is reasonable, say a 10 or Jack, and the High Pair is buried you're in an ideal situation. Your Raise will look like you're moving on the Paired 10s, for example, and the other players will respond accordingly. You're in an excellent position to pull them in deeper in the later streets.

By fifth the remaining hands that do not have an obvious strong position (non-paired opens) are probably draw hands. Raise in order to knock them out.

Sixth and seventh: if you're not beaten by the open cards and you've improved on the Pair, Raise. Otherwise you have to consider Folding, or at least Check along if there's no Raises to match and nothing on the table looks threatening.

Three to a Flush
Three cards to a Flush is a "drawing" hand: you need cards to make anything worthwhile. That said, it's worth a Raise, but how much money you can put behind it without giving yourself away is largely determined by your door card.

If your doorcard is Faces or Aces (A, K, Q, J), then the Raise will look like you're backing a high Pair. If your door leads, following a Raise and re-Raise will probably pass without being suspected.

The "head" cards, highest of the held cards, also affect how you play the hand. Assuming you don't have High door as above, you want J or better in the Flush to justify the betting. This way you're drawing to both the Flush and a High Pair to balance the expense.

If you've got a weak door or no High cards you need to get to fourth street as cheaply as possible since you're facing 5 to 1 odds against completing your hand. Consider mucking if any of the cards you need are "dead" (in another player's hand).

If Fourth street brings you a fourth for the Flush you're facing 1.5 to 1 against completing, which is good odds at this point and worth a Raise. Consider mucking if two or more of the cards you need are "dead" or if you've got no High Pair possibilities as an out.

Fifth street: you must have that fourth to the Flush by this point in order to justify further betting. If you get it, and especially if there's a High Pair out, consider raising. The odds are still reasonable that you'll complete (2 to 1 against).

By the sixth the odds are swinging against you at 4 to 1 to complete. You can only justify staying in if it's cheap and there's still some chance of an out. Otherwise muck.

Three to a Straight
Again, we're talking about a draw hand, and this one's a lot tougher to complete than the 3-Card Flush. If you've got two or three High cards, you've got a chance at a High Pair as an out. This hand can sustain a Raise or even a re-Raise if it's an Outside Straight (can be completed from either end). But don't let A-K-Q fool you: that's an Inside Straight (only open at one end) and is better played for it's Pairing possibilities.

Throughout the round it's doubly important to study the other players cards for anything that could kill your Straight. If any one of the cards you could use is dead, it seriously detracts from your completion chances.

At fourth street you want another (consecutive) card in your Straight. If you don't get it, Fold unless all of your cards beat the up cards. If you've still got an Outside Straight you're facing 1.3 to 1 odds against completing and this is worth continuing to play. If you draw a fourth to the Straight and it leaves you with an Inside Straight consider folding unless you're holding the two highest up cards.

At fifth street you're facing 2 to 1 odds against completing. If you still have two of the highest up cards then it's worth Check or Call to continue to the sixth. Otherwise Fold. Four to a Straight is tempting to chase, but it's not nearly as good a bet as it looks.

By sixth street you're facing 5 to 1 odds and there's no justification to continue unless all necessary cards are still "live" (in play, not "dead"). If your open cards still lead, it's worth a Raise. Muck if you're facing a double Raise.

Playing Style
There are a million hands is Stud and probably just as many ways to advise a player on their playing strategy. From all I've seen and read I'd say that it boils down to two options: Bull or Bear.

The Bear
This player is conservative, plays "tight", takes the risks only when there's something to back it up. In this play style the streets largely determine the player's action.

On third street the tight player has a simple choice, do they have the goods? If they're holding Trips, three to either a Flush or Straight, a high Pair (10s or better) or, at the very least, two of the highest cards (A-K) they bet. Otherwise they Fold without a second thought.

On fourth street it's a question of whether they've improved their initial hand, still appear to lead and have a solid chance of bringing it home. At this point only Trips, four to a Flush or Straight, Two Pair and no visible competition justify a bet. Otherwise the hand is over and nothing significant has been risked.

The rest of the round is the expensive streets and the tight player must believe they are holding the "nuts", the winning hand. If they're still trying to draw that hand, they'll only continue if it's cheap to do so, the cards they need are still alive (not showing), and the upcards pose no significant threat. Otherwise, they're gone.

Playing tight is about risk minimization. Nothing is ventured without the cards to back it up. If the betting gets too steep, Fold. If the cards are going against you, Fold. If you're running out of time and still don't have the cinch hand, Fold.

The Bull
Bullish, aggressive play, is almost the opposite. What you have in your hand is important, but it's equally important to assess how your cards appear to the other players. The bullish player manipulates their opponents expectations as much as they managing their own cards. And they push the game, following a "Raise or Fold" policy, forcing the other players to pay up or muck out.

The key to bullish play, in addition to knowing your game as well as the tight player does, is careful card analysis. It's a never-ending game of "how do my cards appear to him?", "am I supporting that perception with my actions?", "is he falling for it?", "can I use his expectations to get more money on the table?".

Sound tricky? It is! Bullish players make Stud the roller-coaster ride that it is and they demand the most of a player's powers of observation, card analysis, and psychological deception

Bull or Bear?
Is it better to be a "rock", play ultra-conservatively and only risk your money when you've got the nuts. Or is it best to play aggressively, only Fold or Raise, almost never Check, and force the other players to pony up or muck out?

While the beginning player might think that tight play is the shrewd approach, it's not necessarily so. First, you'll get the reputation of being a "rock" and few people enjoy playing with someone who is tight-fisted and super cautious. Worse, you're probably going to lose. When the other players can predict your card decisions they've got an huge advantage and that will put your money in their pocket.

Bullish play is favored among professional players. By choosing the "Raise or Fold" policy, they force more money out onto the table. And since their style is far less predictable they have more room to maneuver, more ways to attack, more opportunities to use your expectations against you. Bullish play and solid card skills wins the money.

Reading the Players
Anything that gives a player's feelings or intentions away is called a "tell" and learning to read these is a key component of Poker play. Obviously when you play online, you're don't have direct access to this information, so the dynamics of the game change a bit. But there can still be ways to gain this type of information.

The chat box that appears in most online Poker games can be a dead give-away. I've been in games where players would jump on the chat box as soon as they read their cards and had a good hand. They're happy and they want to share their good feelings with others. A shrewd Poker player absorbs this information and uses it to gain a playing edge.

I've also seen players who would jump on and cuss the cards whenever he thought he'd received something good: he's trying to lull the other players into thinking they've got him beat. Same story: use what you know about his playing style to beat him and take his money.

To Bluff or not to Bluff?

The do's and don't of bluffing could fill a small book on their own, but here are a few of the most important things to keep in mind:

avoid bluffing heavy winners: they can afford to Call and usually do.
beginners are often desperate to know what you've got and will Call just for the sake of knowing.
experienced players play a cagey game, are studying your actions more closely, and are often easier to bluff.
ask yourself how good your cards might look to the other players. Don't bluff without at least a little something in your hand to make it look threatening.

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Caribbean Stud Poker


Trying to get an edge and keep your money in Caribbean Poker (a.k.a. Caribbean Stud) is no small feat. The house has a solid edge backed up by a couple rules that will prove frustrating if you play for very long or for serious money.
The Truth of the Game

Despite its name, Caribbean Poker is a table game, more akin to Blackjack than Poker. But don't think that Caribbean provides the same opportunities for the shrewd player that Blackjack does, 'cause it most certainly does not. The house has a solid 5.2% edge over the player and that's close to the worst odds you'll find in the casino.

As to its relation to Poker, the only thing they have in common is that Caribbean uses the Poker hands for scoring.

There are only three decisions a player needs to make in Caribbean Poker. The first is how much to bet. The second is whether to Raise or Fold after the dealer's one-card flop. And the third is whether take the Side (a.k.a. Progressive) Bet.

There are a few factors in this game that recommend the smart player place small bets. The first is the house edge which there is simply no getting around and in the long run that means you're going to lose money. Better to lose small than big, no? The second is that most Caribbean tables limit the payout. You may bet $100 a hand and Raise your $200 and think you've hit a $6,000 jackpot when you come up with 4-of-a-Kind with its 20-1 payout. But if the Maximum Payout at your table is $5,000 then that's all you're going to get. So know your table's Max and bet accordingly.

Basic Strategy
Simply put, the basic strategy in Caribbean Poker is to Raise on A-K-J-8-3 or better and Fold otherwise. That is called the "beacon hand" and it's the lowest break-even hand in the game. While this won't make you a long-term winner, it will help slow your losses. It's the paying hands, a pair or better, that will net you the good wins. Trouble is that the dealer must qualify (A-K) in order for you to get the real payoffs and those opportunities are annoyingly infrequent in Caribbean Poker. More on this later.

If you've spent any time looking around, you'll know that there are many varieties and variations of this strategy. Using them will help you shave the house edge by teeny amounts, but they're hardly worth the effort. Even if you played the mathematically optimal strategy you'd only improve over the basic strategy by a few tenths of a point. Is it worth it? On paper maybe, but the bottom line is that you're playing a losing game so getting deep into it in order to shave a couple tenths is an effort of dubious worth.

Side Bets
In most of the Caribbean Poker games I've played online there's a little meter running showing you the amount of cash in the Progressive Pot. The idea is that for a $1 Side Bet you'll have a crack at some or all of that Pot if you win a hand with a Flush or better. Guess what, it's a sucker bet with the house edge around 22% or more. The gurus say don't do it, and if you must do it, wait until the Pot is $150,000 or better. Don't worry, you'll be losing your money fast enough in Caribbean Poker to have any need to speed up the process by placing Side Bets.

The Killer in Caribbean Poker
In my opinion there is one rule in Caribbean Poker that needs very close examination by the would-be player. The fact that the dealer must qualify with an A-K or better before the player gets a proper payout on a winning hand hangs over the game like a black cloud. Let's dream a little and assume that every hand you get beats the dealer.

Only 54% of the time will the dealer qualify and that means that 46% of the time you'll only get paid for your Ante bet at 1-1 no matter how good your cards are. Let's make this a little clearer with examples taken from recent play experiences of mine.

Let's say you're playing $10 a hand, you pull a Pair of 4's , and Raise. If the dealer qualifies with an A-K, you win and get paid out at the 1-1 odds on both the Ante and the Raise, pulling back $30 on the hand. But if the dealer failed to qualify you only get paid on your Ante at 1-1. No big deal you say? Let's take another look.

Same $10 hand but you pull Four-of-a-Kind and Raise. Needless to say, in real Poker this hand would probably set you up for a serious win. Even in Caribbean you'll rake back $410 because of the 20-1 payout on Four-of-a-Kind, but if and only if the dealer qualifies. But if the dealer doesn't qualify (again, 46% of the time) do you know what you win? $10 because of the 1-1 Ante Payout, and that's it. It could've been a Royal Flush and all you'd get is that $10. "Heads I win, Tails you lose" is what this sounds like to me.

Where's the Beef?
By now you've probably gathered that I'm not much of a Caribbean Poker fan. In fact, I pretty much agree with the experts when they say it's a mindless game with terrible odds. The question then is why is it popular at all? I think the answer lies somewhere in the way the game plays. You're sitting there, losing most of the time and on the rare occasion when you get a good hand and the dealer has qualified, you get a nice payout. You anted $10, using the Four-of-a-Kind example above, and pulled back $410. Not bad, and you kind of want to bet again, right?

I think this follows what I call The Pain Rule, named after what an old friend of mine said when I asked him what he liked about long-distance running. "It feels so good to stop". You feel so relieved when the pain is over that you think you actually enjoyed doing the thing in the first place. In Caribbean you lose so often, or rather the dealer failed to qualify so you could win, that it feels great when you actually do rake in a real payoff. Pick your poison.

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Draw Poker


When it comes to Poker strategy, there are a few things to get straight right off the top. You could call these the Golden Rules of Poker 'cause they apply to pretty much any Poker game you're likely to play:

Don't play cash poor: as a general rule you should start with 40-50 times the table     limit.
If you've got nothing in your hand, get out.
If you've got a cinch hand, make them pay to see it.
If they've got you beat, fold.
The goal is to beat the other players, not have the highest hand. If everyone else folds, you take the pot.
Don't try to beat a better player: if you're lucky, you'll win small; if you're not, you'll lose big.
There's an even chance that you won't better your opening hand.

When it comes to Draw Poker Strategy we begin by considering the rank of the winning hands. In the Rules of Draw Poker, we introduced the 5-card hands and their ranking. Here's some idea of the odds on receiving those hands on the opening deal:

Based on these chances of receiving an opening hand, there are a few things you can immediately conclude:

the more players at the table, the greater the chance that one or more players has a Pair, for example. In other words...

the more players at the table, the lower the relative value of the lesser ranked hands.
·if you haven't got a Pair or better, or four cards to a Flush or Straight, Fold immediately

Perhaps this last bit of advice needs some elaboration. What it comes down to is this: if you hold nothing in the opener your chances of improving and beating the other players are too slim. Of course this means that you'll fold most of your opening hands.

Welcome to Draw Poker.
So let's assume you've got a little something to build on. Every beginning player wants to know whether they should hold a kicker and a Pair, or just the Pair. Same with Trips. As you'll see in the following, the odds almost always favor tossing the kicker:

Needless to say, the better your opener, the better your chances of improving it. But forget about trying to build something out of a three card Flush or Straight: your odds are 1 in 23 and 1 in 150 respectively. It's highly unlikely that the pot would ever justify that kind of risk.

On the upside, observe the following chances if you hold four cards to build on:

In the end, it's these odds that must advise you on your Poker betting decisions. If you've got a four-card Flush and it'll cost you $20 to stay in, the question is "yes or no"?

First question: what are your chances of completion on the draw? 1 in 4.5 So if you're going to stay in, that pot better pay you $90 or better (4.5 x $20), after you deduct your ante and bets thus far. Anything else is blind faith in beating the odds and the sidelines are full of players who tried that as their betting policy. Look where it got them.

Of course, Poker wouldn't be Poker if that was all there was to it. Bluffing, intimidation, body language and all the rest of it come into the game if you're playing your opponents across a table instead of across cyberspace. If that's your game I suggest you do some serious reading.

There are many, many books on the Poker subject and your first tough choice will be picking one. But remember, Poker has been around a long time. Anyone that tries to sell you a "hot new strategy" is beating you at the book counter, not the Poker table. Go with the pros.

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Let It Ride Poker


Optimal play in Let It Ride is a matter of deciding if you are going to "stay" at the two decision points in the hand. Let's break down the decisions, keeping in mind that 10-J-Q-K-A are "high" cards and a "skip" is a card missing from a Straight:

Three cards up:
"Let It Ride" on the first bet if you have:

·a paying hand: High-Card Pair or Three-of-a-Kind
·three consecutive, same-suit cards valued 3-4-5 or better
·three of a Straight Flush with one skip and at least one high card (eg. 8-9-J but not 7-8-J)
·three of a Straight Flush with two skips and at least two high cards (eg. 8-J-Q but not 7-9-J)

Four cards up:
"Let It Ride" on the second bet if you have:

·a paying hand: High-Card Pair, Three-of-a-Kind or Two Pair
·four of any Flush
·four of a Straight, no skips
·four high cards

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Omaha Hi Poker


Since the name of the game in Omaha is to assemble the killer hand, it essentially becomes a drawing game. You take the possibilities you're dealt with the hole cards, determine what you can make out of it, watch the community cards as they fall with a careful eye on what they're doing to your chances and bail if it becomes clear that things are going sour. You can burn off a lot of chips hanging around to see if things improve.

The strategy guidelines for Omaha run into the dozens because of the number of cards in play and the two-from-four rule. To make a long story short, it's generally advised that you stay in if your hole cards integrate well --that is, they form the beginnings of several good hands-- and muck them if they don't.

Rookie Omaha players are often suckered in by a solid pack of hole cards or a strong string of community cards. Remember, Four to a Flush in the hole is useless because you only get to keep two of them. Ditto with the community cards. There is no point to betting on cards you can't keep so remember: two hole cards, three community cards, no exceptions, period.

Watch out for busted hands in the initial deal: two cards might start a Straight and the others a Flush, but there's no crossover in that you can't recombine the cards to form yet another hand, like a Straight Flush for instance. To avoid chasing rainbows, muck pairs of orphans unless they're top-nut beginnings.

Beware of "second nut" hands, those where even if you got what you needed it still wouldn't be a boss hand. Many an Omaha player has gone home with empty pockets and the haunting feeling that they should've learned something from the experience. Second nut is second place --if you're lucky-- and you should play accordingly.

Finally, don't stay in hoping things will get better. If the flop goes against you, muck out because if those three cards haven't helped you the chances are that nothing else will. The smart money says keep your chips for the next hand.

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Pai Gow Poker


We could quote the straight probabilities of drawing different back and front hands, but that's not particularly meaningful. Since Pai Gow is a game of skill the odds are difficult to pin down. Suffice it to say that if you follow an optimal playing strategy you're going to win about 3-in-10 hands, lose about the same, and push about 4-in-10.

Assuming an optimum play strategy, the largest play advantage is to the dealer/banker because copies go to them. In fact, noted Pai Gow expert Stanford Wong has been quoted as saying that being dealer/banker as often as possible has the most significant impact on a winning strategy. The appeal of multi-player games is clear.

Now the complexity of Pai Gow really shows. For the sake of discussion, lets call any pair of 2's through 6's a "low pair", 7's through J's a "medium pair", and Q's through A's a "high pair". To avoid confusion we'll call the two-card hand the "front" hand and the five-card the "back" hand.

No Pair:
Back hand: the highest card; Front hand: the next two highest cards.

One pair:
Back: the pair; Front: next two highest cards.

Two Pair:
Pair of A's and any other Pair: Back: high pair; Front: other pair.
Two High Pair: Back: best pair; Front: other pair.
High Pair and Medium Pair: Back: high pair; Front: medium pair.
High Pair and Low Pair with A or K: Back: both pair; Front: A or K.
High Pair and Low pair without A or K: Back: highest pair; Front: low pair.
Two Medium Pair with A or K: Back: both pair; Front: A or K.
Two Medium Pair without A or K: Back: best pair; Front: other pair.
Medium Pair and Low Pair with A or K: Back: both pair; Front: A or K.

Medium Pair and Low Pair without A or K: Back: medium pair; Front: low pair.
Two Low Pair with A or K: Back: both pair; Front: A or K.
Two Low Pair without A or K: Back: best pair; Front other pair.

Three Pair:
Back: second and third highest pair; Front: highest pair.

Three of a Kind:
Three A's: Back: pair of A's; Front: A and next highest card.
All others: Back: three of a kind; Front: two highest remaining cards.

Three of a Kind twice:
Back: lower three of a kind; Front: highest pair.

Full House:
With second Three of a kind: play the highest pair to Front hand.
With second Pair: Back: full house with low pair; Front: highest pair.
Pair is 2's with A or K: Back: full house; Front: A or K.
All others: Back: three of a kind; Front: the pair.
Straights, Flushes, Straight Flushes and Royal Flush:
With no pair: Back: lowest full hand; Front: two highest cards.
With one or two Pair: Back: lowest full hand; Front: two highest cards, pair or otherwise.
With Three of a Kind: Back: full hand; Front: pair.
With Full House: Back: three of a kind; Front: pair.
With Three of a Kind twice: Back: lower three; Front: highest two.

Four of a Kind:
With Three of a Kind: Back: four of a kind; Front: pair from the tree of a kind.
With a Pair: Back: four of a kind; Front: pair.
Four A's: Back: pair of A's; Front: pair of A's.

J's through K's with an A: Back: four of a kind; Front: the A.
J's through K's without an A: Back: one pair from the four; Front: the other pair.
7's through 10's with A or K: Back: four of a kind; Front: A or K.
7's through 10's without A or K: Back: one pair from the four; front: the other pair.
2's through 6's: Back: four of a kind; front: highest remaining two.

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Red Dog Poker


This is probably the shortest strategy I'll ever write: only Double on Spread 7 or better. Period. That's it. End of strategy.

Okay, if you're still reading I'm assuming it's because you want a little detail. It's still pretty simple, but here it is: the player only gets an edge when the spread is 7 or more.

This is actually quite obvious. At Spread 7, 7 cards will give you a winning hand. And since there are 13 cards from Deuce to Ace (2 ,3 ,4 ,5 ,6 ,7 ,8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, A), that means that only 6 cards will cause you to lose.

Spread 7 gives the player about a 54% chance of winning and it gets better from there on up to around 85% at Spread 11. So the strategy is to only Double on the Spreads that give you an edge, namely 7 through 11. Spreads below 7 give the house an increasingly stiff edge and should be avoided.

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Texas Hold 'Em Poker

There have been hundreds of books, tutorials, courses and articles written about the best strategy to employ when playing Texas Hold ‘Em. We have simplified the very basic strategy, to give you an idea of the best way to play and what to look out for.

As with all poker games, the best way to really learn is to play. Many online Poker Rooms have free play tables, where you can practise the game without losing any money. We recommend that you should spend a while in a free play game, then progress onto a 1 unit / 2 unit table (units being £, $ or €). Once you are comfortable with your strategy, move up the tables.

Think before you bet
Before you start betting like crazy when you get two eights in the pocket, you need to carefully consider all factors involved in a solid pre-flop strategy.

The factors to consider are the number of players, how aggressive/passive the players at the table are, your bankroll, your position, and how much risk you are willing to entail.

Number of players:
With 10 people in the game, it's much more likely that someone else has a strong hand in the pocket than in a short-handed game. Also, you'll need to be more cautious in larger games, as the chances of someone's pre-flop hand fitting the flop will be much better. More competition means stiffer competition.

How aggressive the players are:
Assuming you've been playing with a few people for several hands, and you have noticed that someone is raising every hand pre-flop, you'll want to play tighter.

Your bankroll:
If you have $2 left, you'll want to play extremely carefully and select one hand to bet on, hoping to get as many players involved as possible for a larger pot. You'll want to be all-in before the flop is dealt. On the other hand, if you have $1000 at a $1/$2 table, you can take the high-risk, high-payout bets.

Your position:
People in late position have the ability to influence the size of the pot much more than those in early position. This is especially true pre-flop.

Your tolerance for risk:
Depending on your playing style, you may want to play more or less aggressively pre-flop. Players who shoot for larger pots, but don't mind a greater chance for losing a few hands will want to raise pre-flop, especially if they are in late position. Some players prefer to be as selective as possible pre-flop, grinding out a winning hand here or there. It really depends on your own style of play, and how you perceive the players around you.

Generally speaking, you want hands that have high card value, or the ability to be the best hand. You'll want to seriously consider playing high value cards (queens, kings and aces), suited (drawing for a flush) and connected (drawing for a straight) cards, and obviously, always play high pocket pairs (queens or better).

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Poker Hand Rankings

1. Royal Flush

A, K, Q, J, 10 all of the same suit. The Big Kahuna. The hand everyone strives for and the reason we play this game.

2. Straight Flush

Any five card sequence in the same suit. (Ex: 8, 9, 10, J, Q and A, 2, 3, 4, 5 of same suit). You can take this hand straight to the bank.

3. Four of a Kind

All four cards of the same index (Ex: K, K, K, K). A great hand when you can get it.

4. Full House

Three of a kind combined with a pair (Ex: A, A, A, 5, 5). Many a round has been won and lost on this hand. Mostly won.

5. Flush

Any five cards of the same suit, but not in sequence. No need to turn red with embarrassment with this hand.

6. Straight

Five cards in sequence, but not of the same suit. After all, you wouldn’t want to clash.

7. Three of a Kind

Three cards of the same rank.

8. Two Pair

Two separate pairs (Ex: 4, 4, K, K).

9, Pair

Two cards of the same rank. (Q, Q) Sometimes called a San Francisco Pair.

10. Highest Card

Highest card in your hand. Well at least you tried.

Hand Rankings shown courtesy of


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