What is Beat the Board?
In poker, a player is said to ‘beat the board’ if their cards outrank all other cards showing in the game. It applies to stud games where some of each player’s cards are exposed to the table, and to hold’em games where players share the community cards to make their hand. A player who is able to beat the board knows they have a chance in the showdown, while a player who is unable to beat the board knows they cannot win without bluffing.
Beat the Board Explained
To ‘beat the board’ in poker means to hold personal cards that are better than those exposed to the rest of the table. It appears in both stud poker and hold’em poker, with slightly different meanings in each form of the game.
In stud poker, players are all dealt a mixture of hidden and visible cards, which are face up and face down accordingly. A player can look at their hidden cards and know exactly what hand they hold, but they only know parts of the other player’s respective hands. A player who is able to ‘beat the board’ holds a better hand than any they can currently see. This does not mean that they have the best hand at the table, because another player’s hole cards might raise their hand’s rank – but it does suggest the player has a good chance, and should bet to enter the showdown.
In hold’em poker and other community card games, a player gets a small number of personal cards while more cards are dealt face up to the table, to be shared by everyone. Every player must assemble their best hand by combining cards in their hand with those on the table. A player is said to ‘beat the board’ if their best hand is better than the hand showing at the table. For example, if the board shows 9-10-J-Q-K, but the player has an ace in their hand, they have ‘beaten the board’. Their own straight outranks the board’s straight with the high ace.
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