However, what is Split Hold'em, and how do you play it? The game is based on Texas Hold'em, so if you are familiar with that game (and who isn't at this stage?) you'll find it easy to jump right into Split Hold'em. Before the flop the game plays out identical to No Limit Texas Hold'em (NLHE). Each player gets two cards, the game is No Limit and there is a small and big blind as usual.
It's post-flop where things get a little wacky and weird. The usual five-card board, including the flop, turn and river, is dealt out and the same hand rankings and rules as in NLHE apply. But in Split Hold'em, two completely separate boards are dealt at the same time! That means two flops, two turns and two rivers. The hand then plays out exactly the same as in a normal NLHE game but with one major difference; there are two separate pots to be won.
Players can win either the first board or the second board when their hand beats that of their opponent/s. Each board is worth half the pot. So, if Player A wins board one with a straight and Player B wins board two with a flush they will chop all the money in the pot. There is one other key rule to remember; if a player has the best hand on both boards, they win the entire pot. A player will also 'scoop' the whole pot if all other players fold. Obviously, this should be your ultimate goal in any hand of Split Hold'em.
Here are some quick tips to get you scooping Split Hold'em pots like an ice cream van in a heatwave…
Focus on the scoop
It's impossible to over-estimate how important trying to win both pots, instead of just one, is. It's not always going to be possible of course but if there's any situation where your hole cards connect well on both boards you should play very aggressively. A good example of this might be if you have suited connectors that hit a flush draw on one flop and a pair on the second flop. In this instance, you probably don't have the best hand on either board yet but do have lots of potential to improve on the turns and rivers. It's worth playing aggressively in an attempt to drive your opponents away – even if you get a caller you will have a good chance of hitting to win one or both boards.
Don't get scooped yourself!
There are going to be situations where it's impossible for you to challenge for both pots, and that's OK. One common example would be if you hold Ace-King. On the first board you have top pair top kicker, whereas on the second you've completely missed.
In a situation like this where you are only battling to win half the pot you should tread cautiously. If a huge pot develops and you get all-in there's a good chance that you are up against an opponent who is challenging for both pots, giving him a huge advantage against you. Just as your core aim should be to focus on trying to scoop pots when you can, the opposite holds true too. The worst possible thing you can do is overplay a vulnerable hand that is only challenging for one pot. These are liable to get scooped, which is the worst case scenario in Split Hold'em.
Post-flop is king
In standard NLHE a hand such as pocket Aces has a huge advantage over any other hand if all the money goes in pre-flop. With just five cards to come the Aces will go in as the best hand and will stay the best hand approximately 75% of the time or more by the time the river has been dealt.
These huge mismatches don't exist to this extent in Split Hold'em. With two boards instead of one, there will be ten community cards dealt now, instead of five. That gives your opponents twice as much chance of getting lucky and cracking your Aces. It doesn't mean that you shouldn't play big pairs aggressively pre-flop but it's important to be aware that you will be statistically more at risk of a bad beat on one or both boards once all the cards have been dealt.
You will be able to find Split Hold'em for both play money and real money in the PokerStars client now, under the cash games tab. Good luck at the tables and keep checking PokerStars School for more exclusive Split Hold'em strategy tips in the future.