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Split Pots in Texas Hold’em
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Author: Bill Burton
Web Site: Non

I have received many e-mails asking me to decide the winning hand in Texas Hold’em. Since several readers have asked the same question about split pots, I thought I would answer my latest question in this article. Peter wrote:

The Question
I have a question for you about a tiebreaker in Texas Hold 'em. It's in regards to a tiebreaker. In this situation, two players are left. The 5 communal cards are a 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of mixed suits. Player One has a 3 and a 4. Player Two has a King and a Queen. Obviously, the best hand is the straight on the board. My question is who wins? I'm assuming there are 3 possible answers:

1. Player One wins because he has 2 pair, and Player Two only has King high. I don't think this is right, because Player Two's best hand (the straight on the board,) is better than the 2 pair.

2.Player Two wins because he has the higher kicker (the King beating the 4.) I think if there IS a winner, it's because of this.

3. The hand is a draw and the 2 players split the pot.

The Answer
The correct answer is number 3. It is a split pot. In Texas Hold’em the winning hand is the highest five card hand. It can be made from any combination of the two personal cards held by the players and the five community cards. In some cases the highest five card hand is made by using the five community cards as in our example above. A sixth or seventh card is never used to break a tie.

In this example if there was a third or fourth player still active in the hand and they did not have a hand that could beat the straight on the board, then the pot would be split amongst all the active players.

Beware of the Raise
Sometimes when it appears that the best hand is on the board a player will raise in hopes that one of the other players will fold. Then they can win the pot our right or cut down on the number of players splitting the pot. For example:

The board cards are: King diamonds – Queen spades - Jack hearts - Ten clubs – 9 hearts

The best possible hand that can be made is the Ace high straight. One of the players may bet or raise to try and make you think they have an Ace for a higher straight. In this case you are forced to call the bet incase it is a bluff. The worst that can happen if you call is that you lose a bet. If you fold and there is a spit pot you have cost yourself a portion of the pot.

When Kickers Play
Situations will arise when there is a winning hand such as a flush on the board. If two or more active players have a suited card higher than the lowest card on the board then the player with the higher card will win. For example:

The board cards are: Ace spades - King spades – Ten spades – 9 spades – 6 spades

Player One has Queen spades and Jack hearts.
Player Two has 8 spades and 7 hearts.
Player 1 wins because their Queen of spades makes a higher flush than the player with the 8 of spades.

There would however be a split pot if both players had a spade that was lower than the 6 spades. For instance if Player One had the 5 of spades and Player Two had the 3 of spades then the 6 on the board makes a higher flush than either of the players can make with their cards.

There you have it. Now you know how to determine a split pot. Just remember that only five cards can be used to make the best hand. If they happen to be the five community cards on the board, then it is a split pot and will be divided by all the players still active in the hand.

Until Next time remember:
Luck comes and goes.....Knowledge Stays Forever.

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