What are ‘Openers’?
The term ‘openers’ is most commonly heard in the world of poker, and particularly draw games. It essentially refers to the minimum hand that a player must have to open the betting in a game. The openers will often be decided by the players around the table depending on the rules they normally play, although the most common opener is two Jacks. Simply put, the player must have two Jacks or a better hand if they want to place an opening bet.
Hang around a poker table and you may well hear one of the players ask “What are the openers?” This player is basically asking what is the lowest hand they can have to open up the betting. If the player were to respond with a comment like “the openers are two 10s”, then this would mean that no player can make a bet unless they have this hand or a better hand.
Poker is all about reading an opponent’s hand using their betting patterns, betting amounts, and physical tells. Because of this, openers are absolutely essential in draw poker. The players at the table will have some knowledge about what their opponent could be holding because they know that any player opening the betting can only have a certain range of cards in their hand.
A player does not need to keep both of their openers. For example, if a player opened a hand with two Kings, they may want to discard one of the Kings if there is the possibility of making a straight. In this instance, the player can tell the table that they are splitting their openers.
Finally, no matter which two cards the player has in their hand when they open the betting, these cards are referred to as the player’s openers. Openers are at the root of one of the most commonly heard poker phrases – “jacks or better“.