Explanation of Straight

We make a straight when we hold 5-cards in direct consecutive rank order.

For example, in Hold’em -

Board: Q♠T♦9♥

Hand 1: K♣J♣
Hand 2: J♦8♦

Both hand 1 and hand 2 make a straight in this example. In scenarios where two players make a straight, the winner is determined by the highest ranked card used to formulate the straight. Hand 1 makes a “King-high straight” while hand 2 makes a “Queen-high straight”. Hand 1 hence wins the pot.

The best possible straight in poker is the Ace-high straight (TJQKA) often referred to as “broadway”. The Ace can also be used to formulate the lowest possible straight A2345, often referred to as “the wheel”. Note however that it is not possible for the Ace to appear in the middle of a made straight. I.e. QKA23 is actually just Ace-high, not a straight. 

Board: K♠Q♠T♣9♥5♦

Hand 1: J♥8♥
Hand 2: A♦J♦

Note that it is possible to make a straight using just one (or even zero) of our hole cards. Hand 1 makes the King high straight using only his Jack. Although the Eight is connected to the straight-draw it’s not used in this case since it doesn’t appear as part of a King-high straight. (9TJQK). Hand 1 
technically has an impressive 6-card straight in this instance, but this is meaningless in a poker variant that only use 5 cards when formulating a hand.

Hand 2 is the winner here since it can use both the Jack and the Ace to make the broadway Ace-high straight.

Example of Straight used in a sentence -> On the turn we had the open ended straight draw but finally managed to bink the straight on the river.

How to Use Straight as Part of Your Poker Strategy 

Straights are powerhouse hands in No Limit Hold’em and are very often strong enough to play for stacks with (assuming a 100bb cash game). Caution should still be advised in the following areas however:

a) Straights on paired boards.
b) Straights on boards where a possible flush has completed.
c) The lower end of a straight, especially when made with one hole-card.

It’s important to remember that straights made with two hole-cards are always stronger than straights made with one hole-card. This is because two card straights are significantly more disguised, making it easier to extract value. The two-card non-nut-straight may still be a very valuable hand in Hold’em while the one-card non-nut-straight is often a recipe for disaster if overplayed.

One-card straights are not possible in variants such as Omaha since players are obligated to always use exactly two of their hole-cards when formulating a hand. The nut-straight is still a strong hand in Pot Limit Omaha but caution needs to be excercised when playing the nut-straight on the flop or turn without having any redraws. It’s common for more than one player to make the nut-straight meaning that whoever has the strongest redraws is going to profit on average. The non-nut-straight in PLO needs to be treated with a large degree of caution since it will often be heavily dominated when players look to stack off in a 100bb cash game.

See Also 

High Hand, Two Pair, Three of a Kind, Flush, Full House, Quads, Straight Flush, Royal Flush, Hold’em, Omaha, Counterfeit, Effective Stacks

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