What is ‘In the Hole’?
‘In the hole’ describes any cards held by a player in poker which are kept in the hand or face down at the table, and are therefore hidden from the player’s opponents.
These ‘hole cards’ are used in stud and hold’em games, where players mix their hidden and open cards to make a complete hand. The term is most associated with Texas Hold’em, where players receive two cards ‘in the hole’ and share five cards with the table.
’In the Hole’ Explained
If a poker player describes their cards as ‘in the hole’, they are talking about their personal cards or hidden cards which make up part of their final hand. Some forms of poker, like stud and hold’em games, require the players to make their final hand from a mix of hidden cards and open cards. These open cards might be dealt face up to the individual players, or dealt to the centre of the table and shared by everyone. The cards which are ‘in the hole’ are those held by the player in their hand, or those dealt face down to the player individually.
The phrase is perhaps best associated with Texas Hold’em. In these hold’em games, players get two cards of their own and share five more with the table. Those two in their hand are often referred to as being ‘in the hole’. For example, if a player gets dealt 3-3 and the board reveals 3-6-8-J-A, the player can make three of a kind using their ‘threes in the hole’. Hold’em players often have to decide whether to stick with a hand or fold early, based on the strength of these two hole cards. The best possible set of hole cards is the A-A hand, while it is widely accepted that a 2-7 starting hand is the worst set to have ‘in the hole’.