The Nuts in Poker Explained

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Aerial view of some dice and poker chips.
BetMGM Jan 12, 2023, 2:35 AM

An online poker tournament involves plenty of competitors, meaning it’s unrealistic to assume you will have a  chance of winning each round. Historically, experienced players are known to fold consecutive rounds for hours on end. However, once in a blue moon, you will be greeted with a strong hand that puts you in a winning position. We discuss what a nut in poker is and how to play it.

What is Nuts in Poker?

So, what is nuts in poker? Put simply, it refers to the best possible hand available. In essence, you’re unplayable and certain to win the round. Overall, a royal flush is the highest-ranking hand, making it the ultimate nut hand. However, this rarely occurs – even after months of playing – resulting in each round having an optimal hand. Something that cannot be beaten.

For example, using Texas Hold’em poker hands, if the community cards are a jack of hearts, 4 of clubs, 6 of hearts, 9 of hearts and 2 of diamonds, the nuts would be an ace-high flush. Because it’s the strongest hand of the round, it would be the nut hand.

When holding the nut hand, your priority should be to build up the pot, thus increasing the winnings. Beginners are prone to getting overexcited and betting aggressively, causing most opponents to fold. The key is to be patient and let others do the betting for you – to avoid suspicion. Once players get the slightest gist of the cards you’re holding, they won’t hesitate to fold. This is where your poker face is tested. Remain calm and composed, let others play and allow the round to unravel without aggressive play. Taking the attention away from you is crucial.

When it’s your turn during a game of online poker, don’t bet instantly; let your time run a bit to show a sense of indecisiveness. Deceiving players when holding the nut hand is a major step towards building the pot. If opponents sense your confidence through fast bets, they may perceive you to have a strong hand and back out – another reason why you shouldn’t bet big in the early rounds. However, once you’re on the river (the last round of betting,) don’t be afraid to be the aggressor with a raise or re-raise.

Although, when you play poker online, you’ll notice periods of slow and cautious play. If you’re experiencing a check-round situation when holding a nut hand, you should place a small bet to keep the pot size climbing. Remember, the nuts in poker don’t occur often so it’s all about maximizing your moment when you’re fortunate enough to hold the strongest hand.

The best scenario is when an opponent carries a strong hand that influences them to bet aggressively. In this instance, let them do the betting and remain elusive by matching their bets (rather than re-raising.) They may be confident about having the winning hand, but a nut hand will always win. For example, if the community cards are 5 of clubs, 7 of diamonds, 8 of hearts, 9 of clubs and 2 of spades, and an opponent holds a 6, they will be optimistic of winning as they have a straight. But this can be beaten with a 10 or jack as it’s the highest straight available. On the other hand, when you have a strong hand that isn’t the nut hand, knowing when to stop playing is crucial to coming out with a positive attitude.

Letting others play the aggressor is another great way to build the pot. Why? Because if they sense that everyone is betting cautiously, they may assume that no one has the nut hand causing them to stake high due to a belief that they have the unbeatable hand.

Drawing to the nuts

Drawing to the nuts occurs when a player needs one or two more cards to put together an unbeatable hand. In essence, you’re semi-bluffing as you do not have a made hand, but there is the possibility of it happening. For example, if a player is holding a 6 of clubs and 7 of hearts with 8 of hearts, 5 of clubs and 2 of diamonds on the board, they only need a 9 to make it a nut hand.

Poker games available on BetMGM

BetMGM has a wide array of poker variations to choose from. Played in the World Series of Poker, Texas Hold’em is the most popular variation. Easy to learn, it’s a great variation to begin with. Moreover, there are more novices playing than other forms of poker, making it an easier introduction to online poker.

A more technical variation we have available is 7-card stud. With a maximum of four players allowed, each player is dealt 13 cards. You then arrange your stack into three different poker hands. From here, you hold it in three rows. The top row is made of three cards and is your lowest-ranking poker hand. The middle includes five cards and should be your second strongest; the bottom row is your strongest hand made up of another lot of five cards. At the end of the round, each player scores their hand against the opponent’s corresponding row. You get a point for each round you win.

But, with Omaha and more, our list of poker variations doesn’t end with these two formats.

Play poker on BetMGM

Wondering how to play poker online? With a range of cash games taking place 24/7 in several variations, BetMGM is the perfect one-stop shop for online poker. Register today and test your skills.

Moreover, we have endless online casino games to choose from, such as blackjack, online slots, roulette and more.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.