Building Your Hand
One of the most important things in Texas Holdem is choosing which starting hands to play and which ones to fold. You can’t do that in Open Face Chinese Poker, but there’s a number of options you can choose from. First of all, it’s where you‘re going to put your first five cards.
It‘s a crucial moment in the hand, because it decides the rest of the game. It‘s like building a good foundation when you start building a house. It’s the same in OFC – if you want to build a strong and a potentially winning hand you need to know where to put your first five cards.
But let’s not rely just on theory and analyze some actual examples from the games at TonyBet Poker. At first let‘s take a look at the first five cards the player is dealt and then analyze their strategy, different possibilities, and styles from there on.
Let‘s analyze some low stakes action first. Why did we pick low stakes? Because there’s a big chance for an amateur player to make mistakes. Playing low stakes will bring more opportunities to analyze and discuss their actions.
The First Hand
This is a whole new set and every player starts with 50 points or half the buy-in. Unfortunately, we don‘t have much information about the opponents at this point. We don’t know their playing style, do they tend to be aggressive and go for Fantasy Land, or play in a more conservative fashion and try to secure the bottom and middle rows first. We also don‘t know what kind of mistakes they might make.
Our player is playing their first hand out of position. That is a tough spot to be in as one cannot see any of the other cards which would give them valuable information. That‘s the main reason we should pick a more conservative approach and be more safe trying to build our hand from bottom to top.
There‘s a couple of possible moves here. The safest one would be: T, T, K at the bottom and 6, 3 in the middle. In this way we secure a strong bottom hand, a chance to go for a full house, and the King is a very strong kicker which could mean that in the event of a tie we could have a stronger full house. On the other hand, it‘s a little sad to put such strong card like King on the bottom.
A more aggressive play would be T, T, 6 on the bottom, and K, 3 in the middle. By choosing this line you still have a strong bottom hand and the possibility to collect a full house. The negative side to this is the fact that we still don‘t know if all the tens and sixes are alive. The King in the middle is a very safe choice and with that you could pair it and go for QQ on top which is +7 points and a Fantasy Land. By taking this line you could still go for something like: TTTXX/KK/QQ.
When playing out of position we would prefer this play for its safety and the possibility to go for strong hands. However, let‘s take a look at a more aggressive line, which would be harder to play out of position.
The aggressive line would feature T, T in the bottom, 3, 6 in the middle and K up top. We choose this mostly for the chance of getting into Fantasy Land with KK on top and scoring +8 points. However, this line is very risky as we have no information on the live cards. This line would suit much better if the player was the last to act (in position) and could count their live cards. If they were to act last they would have information on how many Kings, Threes and Sixes are still in the deck. In this way the player could feel safer on not fouling the hand.
Since we‘ve discussed all three possible lines along with their pros and cons, let’s take a look at what our player did.
They have decided to take the most aggressive approach. This is one of the many typical mistakes, when the players are playing too aggressive in order to reach Fantasy Land. Of course Fantasy Land can be profitable, but the primary target in this case should be not to foul, especially when playing out of position.
The Second Hand
Let‘s analyze another hand and see in what ways it could be played. In this example our player’s situation is much better – they can already see five open cards. They know that the first player has no Aces, which is crucial information providing the possibility to have a safer middle hand. But let’s start from the safest line.
The safe line would be to go for a flush in the bottom and put 8 and 2 in the middle for the chance of another flush.
An aggressive play would be 8, 5 at the bottom, A, 2 in the middle and K up top. 8 and 5 are two live cards with 6 outs and a straight draw. Ace and Deuce in the middle are two live cards as well with the possibility to get a straight or a pair of aces which would open the doors for an easy Fantasy should the King come up.
Still one question remains – why should we put 8, 5 on the bottom instead of 8, 2 which would give us a flush draw. The difference between the two combinations is very small. One has a backdoor flush draw and the other has backdoor straight draw. What we’re doing here is putting higher cards, so that we would have the chance of making two higher pairs in the middle if we get something like 2277A.
Which line should we choose? First of all we should look into the live cards. In this example all the live Aces, 8s, and 5s allow us to play aggressively. All Queens are alive as well which is also good news. However, there’re one “but”. The first opponent is very aggressive and chooses to play the hand which will most likely end up fouling. If we take this into consideration we should take a more conservative approach and try to go for a flush on the bottom with the hope of getting something like two flushes or a flush and a two pair and a high pair on top.
Our choice is to play the safe line.
The Third Hand
In this hand the player has the biggest advantage – position. They see 10 cards out of the 52 card deck! What should we take into consideration? First of all, we already have a pair of fives which is a great start for a strong bottom. The worst part is that one of the opponents has a five so we’re down to one out of there.
The next thing is to find a good live kicker. We have 6 and 9. The difference between the two is very small. One has a backdoor to the straight and the other to the flush. The 6 is a little too weak and it has only two outs. The 9 is better since it has all the outs and if we end up with something like 5599x we could go for smaller pairs like 6677x in the middle.
If we put 6 in the back, the middle option would be 3344x and lower pairs. Of course the Queen is a very good card and it has three live outs which is even better. So it’s a no brainer putting it on top. The biggest disadvantage of this hand is the weak middle line. We have only one six and two live outs for it. It’s also important that there are only two Kings and three Aces left in the deck. If we get another Queen it would be hard to put it up top without improving the middle hand.
We believe that the best play for this hand would be 5, 5, 9 on the bottom, 6 in the middle and Queen on top. This is the safest and at the same time an aggressive line and seems like one of the best options here.
Hopefully this article will give you a better view of how to perceive building your hand. Remember – be patient, observant and you’ll be able to build the strongest house of them all.