Poker Tips

Texas Hold ’em: Phil Hellmuth and Playing the Top 10 Hands

Knowing how to play the top ten hands in Limit Hold ’em can mean the difference between winning and losing. In this column, 13-time World Series of Poker Champion Phil Hellmuth, Jr. offers some examples of correct play strategy. This is an excerpt from his best-selling book, Phil Hellmuth’s Texas Hold ’em available on and major bookstores everywhere.


Harrah’s Cherokee Hosts WSOP with a $1,000,000+ Prize Pool – Aug. 9-11

HCCR ResortEXT - WebThe 12th season of the WSOP Circuit wraps up under TV’s bright lights with the 2016 WSOP Global Casino Championship—an official WSOP gold bracelet event—with a share of $1,000,000+ in prize money on the line from August 9–11 once again at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in North Carolina.


Poker: Unusual Streaks

Player Strategy

Poker: Unusual Streaks


Of all the poker-based games that have carved out niches in table pits, Three Card Poker pays out its top jackpot the most often. That makes some unusual streaks not only possible, but inevitable given enough play.

Take the reader who once emailed to tell of being dealt straight flushes on four consecutive hands, each worth a 40-1 payoff on the Pair Plus portion of the game. That may pale in comparison to the 1,000-1 bonanza for a royal in Let It Ride or a progressive jackpot that can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars in Caribbean Stud. But any frequent player of Three Card Poker will experience straight flushes, with 1-in-460 odds. For most, royals in Caribbean Stud and Let It Ride are a none-in-a-lifetime occurrence, a 1-in-649,740 super long shot. (more…)

Player Strategy No Limit Hold’em: Judgement is Everything

“It’s not who wins the battle; it’s who wins the war.”

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In NLH all manner of plays are possible. You can fold K-K before the flop or move all-in with 2-7 off suit, bluffing before the flop, if your judgement is good enough. By the way, I’ve folded K-K before the flop only a few times in my life, and every time I did, I was right, because my opponent did indeed have A-A! One thing you’ll learn as you play more poke is that when someone has the best possible hand, he is often easily readable.

Quiz show hosts like to say, when the pauses are too protracted, “Go with your first gut instinct. That first instinct is always right.” You’ll find yourself in a lot of interesting situation in NLH where your judgement and your guts will be severely tested. Whether or not you make the right decisions will go far toward determining whether or not you’ll win for the day (it helps to have good cards too). You think that you’re under pressure at work? I’ve seen players who have all their money in the world on the table call other players’ bluffs for all their money. It other words, if they’re wrong, the they’re busted!

One excellent rule for NLH is this: if you can’t allow yourself to fold the best hand, then you can’t win. In many of the tournaments that I’ve won I’ve had occasion to fold the winning hand. In the World Championships in 1989, when just four players were left, I folded pocket tens before the flop against Johnny Chan’s pockets nines in a big pot, but I still went on to win the tournament! It’s not who wins the battle; it’s who wins the war. Don’t be afraid to fold your hand in NLH if you think that it’s beaten. If it was the winner, so what? You made your decision, and you’re still at the table with chips. Stay focused on winning, not on looking back at your untimely fold.

Phil’s NLH Strategy:

I like to take pieces of every different strategy I’ll be laying out below and keep them in my arsenal for eventual use. I like to stick to a very tight beginner-type overall strategy, one involving playing very few hands for the most part. In this way, there isn’t too much pressure on me to make tough decisions all the time. So most of the time in NLH I like to play only the “NLH fifteen” hands.

When someone behind me is playing too tightly, in NLH, I like to raise the pot to try to steal the blinds from him, whenever it’s his big blind.

I trust my instincts when I’m deciding whether or not a player is bluffing. My poker instincts have been very, very good to me. I hone these instincts by practicing reading my opponents when I’m out of the hand being played, to try to get a better read on them for when I need it later. (In mentioning my own play I’m trying only to show you what’s possible if you practice and develop your instincts.)

If someone has raised in front of me and I feel that he is weak, I usually fold anyway. But at the end of the hand I’ll watch to see if he exposes his hole cards, so that I can confirm that he was weak or see that I was wrong. If I have confirmation that I was right, then I wait for him to do it again. Anyone who makes one weak raise can be expected to make more than one. When that player makes another raise and I feel it is weak, I go ahead and reraise him, to force him to fold his weak hand. This reraise wins many more chips than a mere blind steal would win, but you’re also risking a lot more chips to win the pot when you reraise on a bluff.


Phil Hellmuth Jr is  a 13-time World Series of Poker Champion, leading all other poker players in the world. He is the author of two New York Times bestsellers, and his latest book, “Deal me in,” is also widely popular. Visit to check out his clothing line, blog and exclusive gaming tips.

POKER: Introducing NHL to Your Home Game

Option 1Now is the time to tell you that if you introduce NLH to your own home poker game, watch out! The money won and lost can escalate pretty quickly. Before long, the size of the pots will be more than you bargained for. As a brake against this tendancy I reccommend that you introduce NLH in a “cash-down” format, which allows people to take a portion of their chips off the table at a certain peredetermined chip total.

For example, you could require everyone to keep at least $50 in chips in play (making that the maximum they could lose in one pot), but allow them to take off the money above that amount. If someone wins $110 pot, he can remove $60 in chips and put it in his pocket while keeping $50 in play in front of himself. In this way, the stakes won’t go up and up and up after a few hours ofNLH plays, as they usually do. (more…)

POKER: Top 10 Starting Hands for Beginners

In this column we typically discuss more advanced Hold ’em strategy. But sometimes, it’s good to take a few steps back. And for beginners, I recommend playing only these top 10 hands and folding on all others.


World Series of Poker Circuit Event at Horseshoe Tunica – Jan 22 – Feb. 2

Tunica, Miss. —The World Series of Poker Circuit returns to Tunica this season with a new home. For the first time in the tour’s history, the Horseshoe Tunica will host a Circuit event.

Horseshoe Tunica has been part of poker history since it opened its doors. It was originally founded by Jack Binion, a member of the Poker Hall of Fame and son of WSOP founder Benny Binion. Now, the Horseshoe becomes part of the WSOP Circuit as well.


Video Poker: Selecting a Casino

IF YOU’RE A FREQUENT PLAYER you already know all casinos are not created equal. Since individual priorities differ, you should take some time to consider what’s important to you and find the casino that is the best match.


Poker: 7-Card Stud Eight or Better Strategy

WHEN YOU MAKE A STRONG five-card hand in Stud 8/b, you have to decide whether or not you want to jam it in order to eliminate players, or slow-play it in order to keep more players in the pot. Often, the nature of your hand and the nature of the board will tell you what you should do.


Phil Hellmuth, Robert Williamson III & Denny Crum to Host Annual Celebrity Derby Party May 1

Southern Gaming’s Derby Poker Celebrity Bourbon Bash, sponsored by Jim Beam and, is returning to the Derby week festivities for a fifth consecutive year. The annual Oaks Eve party and poker tournament is hosted by Hall of Fame coach Denny Crum and Poker professionals Phil Hellmuth, Jr. and Robert Williamson III and benefits Blessings in a Backpack and Thoroughbred Charities of America.

Formally known as the Derby Poker Championship, the event has become a must-attend Derby party that caters to an array of celebrities, athletes, jockeys, poker professionals and race fans looking to kick-off the Derby weekend in-style. Last year, the event raised just over $20,000 for Blessings and the Louisville chapter of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and organizers are setting their goals event higher this year.


Poker Strategy: Mathematics in PLO & Phil’s Flaw

I played PLO very badly, in the sense that I wasn’t seeing one basic mathematical principle of the game. I can’t believe that I missed it all those years, but no one was coaching me on how to play the game.

After playing PLO for more than seven years, I finally learned something while watching “Houston Sammy” play one day.

Sammy is considered the best PLO player in the world, and one day in a big game in Tunica, Mississippi, I watched him get involved in a big pot.


Poker: Playing A-x Suited on the Flop

WITH PRE-FLOP SITUATIONS, if no one else has raised the pot before the flop and you have A-x suited, then you should make it two bets to go. In general, if you’ve done that but missed the flop, you should bet out once anyway, thus representing that you’ve hit it.




HOW TO PLAY AND WIN at Today’s Table Games

If you’ve been around the casino scene for a couple of decades, chances are you remember table game pits being dominated by four games.

Blackjack was the most popular of course, followed by craps, then roulette, and for the high rollers there was baccarat.

Well…things have changed and today there is a lot more to choose from.


Million Dollar Poker Tournament Series at Beau Rivage

(Biloxi, Miss.) – Do you have what it takes to play poker with the best? Beau Rivage Resort & Casino has announced the schedule for their Million Dollar Heater poker tournament series taking place January 4 – 23, 2013.

It is one of the biggest tournaments in the region and top pros from around the world are expected to attend.



Casino Knowledge: Q&A with John G.

Q: My friend says that when you’re dealt a winning hand or have four parts of a royal flush in video poker, you should pull out your player rewards card before you draw. She says it’ll help your comps. Is that true?