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Double Hold'em

Double Hold'em is a new poker variant that can only be played at Party Poker. The game requires an extra decision than regular hold'em, which makes for softer competition since players are given an additional opportunity to make a mistake.

In Double Hold'em, players are dealt three cards. Players remaining in the hand after the flop is dealt must designate one of their three cards as the "point" card. The point card is placed above the other two cards to form a triangle. It can be used in conjunction with each of the other two cards to form two possible hands.

For example, suppose you are dealt [[cards 9c 9d 2c]] and flop comes [[cards 9s 4c 3c]]. The optimal play here would be to designate the [[cards 9c]] as your point card. This gives you top set with one combination ([[cards 9c 9d]]) and a flush draw with the other combination ([[cards 9c 2c]]). The two cards on the bottom, in this case [[cards 9d 2c]], cannot be used in combination with each other.

If the hand reaches a showdown, you play whichever of your two hole card combinations gives you the best five card poker hand.

Strategy Adjustments
The first thing to realize about Double Hold'em is that it will take a stronger hand on average to win a pot than it does in regular hold'em. Since players are dealt an extra card, this game rests somewhere in between hold'em and Omaha in terms of how strong of winning hands you can expect to see. However, like hold'em and unlike Omaha, you can play zero, one or two of your hole cards to make the best five card poker hand.

This means hands like top pair, which are usually quite good in hold'em, become relative garbage in Double Hold'em. For example, suppose you are dealt [[cards Ad 10c 4d]]. Three players see a flop of [[cards 10s 7s 6d]]. You designate the [[cards Ad]] as your point card to give yourself top pair, top kicker with one combination and a backdoor flush draw with the other combination. In regular hold'em, the [[cards Ad 10c]] hand would be fairly strong on this flop. However, in Double Hold'em, this hand should be played with extreme caution. It is entirely possible that you are losing to an overpair, a flopped straight, two pair, or a set. Even in a best case scenario, you're probably just a small favorite against something like a flush draw or even a flush and straight draw.

Starting Hands
As in regular hold'em, it is important to make strong preflop decisions in Double Hold'em. You must be able to identify the relative strength of your hand based on what position you're in and what action has transpired before you. Expect to see more players seeing flops in Double Hold'em than in regular hold'em. Since everyone has an extra card, everyone feels like they can take whatever garbage they were dealt to the flop and figure it out afterwards. This is a very poor strategy. It is still crucially important to fold mediocre hands before the flop.

In Double Hold'em, you want to play hands that have the possibility of hitting the flop in a couple of different ways. For example, a hand like [[cards Ad 9d 8c]] is pretty good because you've got both straight and flush draw possibilities. It is highly advisable to play non-nut flush hands with caution. In hold'em, any old flush is a pretty strong hand. In Double Hold'em, any old flush could very well be second best to a higher flush.

Hands with pocket Aces are still very strong (the strongest, to be precise; get it all-in preflop if you can), but hands like pocket Queens and pocket Jacks lose a lot of value. This is because it's much more possible for someone else to have been dealt an overpair before the flop. Additionally, players are going to make it to the flop with [[cards Ad Kc Qs]] type of hands making it even more difficult for your pair of Jacks to hold up as the best hand.

Double Hold'em is very much a post-flop game, but that doesn't mean you should take whatever three pieces of paper you were dealt to the flop. Play tight, especially if your table is playing loose, and try to flop big hands that can win large pots. Medium pair type of hands, like [[cards Kc 8c 8d]] become very strong for their set-mining value. See a flop cheaply with those hands, try to flop a set, and if you don't you can get out of the hand for a minimal loss. Avoid playing hands that aren't defined very well and don't have a chance of hitting the flop very hard. For instance, something like [[cards Ks 9d 7s]] might not look too bad, but it should probably be mucked.

Determining the Point Card
At first, determining the point card might seem like a whole new complicated decision, but this is actually a fairly easy aspect of Double Hold'em. What makes Double Hold'em a challenge isn't determining your point card, it's trying to decide how strong of a hand you have after the flop.

Most of the time, determining your point card will either a.) not matter or b.) be a very obvious decision, or both. Just ask yourself: which of the three possible hand combinations is worth the least to me? And then break that hand up by making the other card the point card. Very rarely will you have any decisions where all three of your possible hand combinations are all equally valuable (unless they're all just garbage and in that case, just pick a point card at random and be prepared to fold on the flop).

Sometimes the decision may seem a little tricky. For instance, suppose you hold [[cards Ad 7d 6c]] and the flop comes [[cards Jd 5d 4c]]. Should you try to go for the flush draw or the straight draw? The correct answer is: both! By making the [[cards 7d]] your point card, you keep both a flush draw and a straight draw in tact. That makes for a very powerful hand and could be played for all your chips on the flop as you are only a slight dog against anyone holding a set.

The key to setting your point card is just to avoid making any huge blunders. For example, when you are dealt [[cards 7h 7s Ad]], the knee-jerk reaction might be to make the [[cards Ad]] the point card. After all, that is the card that sticks out from the crowd. But this would be a horrible blunder as you would be breaking up your pair of 7s to give yourself A7 twice.

Give It a Try
Don't be intimidated by Double Hold'em. Even if you don't feel totally confident about the game yet, realize that the competition is so bad that you don't need to be an expert to win. Avoid the major pitfall of over-valuing mediocre hands and you're already better than the field. This is truly one of the softest poker games out there right now, so visit Party Poker today and give it a try.

Next Article: Introduction to Omaha

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