There aren’t many second chances in life, especially when it comes to gaming. Pick the wrong lottery numbers, or back the wrong team in the local derby, and you’re out of the game, with no way back and no hope of winning. All you can do is sit back and watch the other players win. And when it comes to making the wrong call, Texas Hold ‘em can be the cruelest and most frustrating game of them all.
Based on just your two hole cards, with no idea what the flop, turn or river may bring, you have to make a decision whether to play or fold. It is never easy, whatever you are holding. Two promising cards of the same suit, suggesting a flush, can turn out to be the only two of that suit that appears. On the other hand, a highly unpromising off-suit pair, such as a seven and a two, could be the key to a full house if the flop brings you similar cards.
Photo by PokerStars School // Used with permission
How to make your choice
There are endless different ways to make your call when it comes to whether to play or fold with your hole cards. Top players, such as Phil Hellmuth and David Sklansky have created tables of hole cards, while mathematicians and statisticians, such as Bill Chen, have created complex mathematical formulas based on the potential strength of what you are holding.
The trouble is, while these systems may work well in the long run, they are not that useful on individual hands. You are always at risk of folding early, only to instantly regret it as you see exactly what you hoped for being dealt in the three cards of the flop. Until now, all you could do in that situation was kick yourself hard and feel sorry for yourself. However, thanks to PokerStars, all that has now changed.
Photo by NBC Television // CC0 1.0 (Captions: Sinatra may have had a few less regrets if he’d done it ‘this way’)
Unfold you folded hand
Unfold Hold’em is the latest idea from the leading online poker platform, and it is designed to give your poor shins a break. With this smart new side game, you get the chance to take back your bad call by unfolding your hand if you get a favorable flop. You may not get to re-join the main game, but you do get the chance to play for a separate unfold pot by way of compensation.
The concept is brilliant, and the execution is really simple. At the start of each hand, players pay an extra ante to create an unfold pot. The hole cards are then dealt and those big decisions are made with each player deciding to play on or fold. After all the first round betting is done, the flop is then dealt. Any player who folded pre-flop can then decide to take part in the Unfold Hold’em game by placing a bet equivalent to the unfold pot. As long as there are at least two folded players who want to take part, this side game is now in play.
The rest of the hand carries on as normal, while the folded/unfolded players watch, and they make no further bets as the turn and river cards appear. Once the main hand is settled, the unfold players then compete for the side pot based on a simple showdown to see who has the best poker hand.
The unfold game is only available to players who fold pre-flop, and anyone who folds later in the course of the hand is out altogether. Naturally, if no players fold or no one chooses to unfold, or only one player wants to play, then there is no side game and the unfold ante is returned to all players. The same is true if the main hand is settled before the flop. If the main game ends before the full set of community cards are dealt, then these are dealt afterward to allow the unfolding game to be played out.
You will never get the chance to change your lottery numbers after the first three balls have been drawn. You’ll never get the chance to switch teams after the first goal goes in. But at least you can now unfold that winning hand that you thought was going to be a loser.