What Is the Nuts in Poker?

Because of the many interpretations of the term, the nuts is one of poker’s most controversial. Two people could hold two cards, and each player might see them as the nuts on the street. This is why many people still need to learn what it means despite being a trendy poker term.
There is so much controversy and discussion around nuts that it’s hard to understand why. Let’s get into it. Even the most obscure rule in professional poker has to do with stone-cold nuts.

The History of the Nuts

According to apocryphal legend, the most common folk etymology for “The Nuts” is that it comes from American historical poker games. A player should place all of his belongings on the table to ensure he doesn’t lose.

A player only places such a wager if he believes he has the best hand possible. A player will not go all-in if it isn’t part of a complex strategy. This is how the term “nuts” was created in poker. It is widely misunderstood and discussed.

The nuts refer to the best hand in any street or game. A royal flush is the best example of the nuts. It’s the absolute nut in every game. The nuts can also be used to refer to combinations of cards that are unbeatable by any other hand. It’s safe to assume that a player with the nut is guaranteed a tie with any other player.

Hand: The Most Misunderstood Poker Term

The nuts are a topic of much debate, and many players continue to discuss it on various poker forums. Some argue that the nuts are only possible once the game reaches the river. This is because having the best hand with four community cards is impossible. We’ve seen in many games that the river card can make a massive difference to the game. A weaker hand will often beat the nuts on the turn.

Others may be able to wake up with a nut hand even before the flop. It’s too early to call it the absolute nuts, as a single draw on any street could dramatically change its strength. Both interpretations are correct, but they have very different meanings.

There are many interpretations of the nuts that fall between these two interpretations. These interpretations only increase the confusion about what they mean. There are games where a player may hold the nuts but still tie with another player. You’ve probably played enough games to know that community cards can be used to complete hands that end up being the nuts.

Despite the many interpretations, the nut has one clear meaning: You can’t lose it.

Because of the many different players’ interpretations, it can only be evident to some. Let’s begin by discussing nuts on the street to make it more transparent.

Street Level Nut Hand

Although street-level nut hand is not the correct name, let’s discuss it. Because if you awake to a pocket Ace, no other hand can beat it.

Here’s how to show street-level nut hands:

Ben wakes up to find a pocket aces
James draws a strong AJ
Chris awakens at 10:09

Ben has the best hand and therefore has the “nuts pre-flop.” Although Ben can tie with another player who is already a remarkable feat, it is impossible for AA not to lose the pre-flop. The nuts can change, however, as it is still early in the game.

Let’s look at a flop scenario: The dealer draws the flop, and the player gets 8 6.

The flop is now in play. Chris switches to the nut hand with a straight 10 high. There is no way to beat Chris’ hand at this stage. A tie with another player is the worst thing that could happen in this round’s straight 10 high.

There are still two streets in the game that has the potential to give James a flush. Chris isn’t the “absolute nuts” hand. Ben’s pocket Ace is still strong, but it’s no longer the nut because the flop has nothing to support it.

You can see that the nuts can change on any street. This turn card scenario illustrates this: The dealer draws K for the turn.

James must draw this card to win the “absolute nuts,” as it gives him AJ 8 7 K, the best hand possible. No matter what hand the other players have or what the river card is, there’s no way to lose a flush high in this game. Ben can only have a trip, and Ace and Chris can only have a straight Jack high. Both are lower than flush ace high.

Because the nuts change three times during the game, we call it the street nut hand. Each hand was the best on the street, but it didn’t hold up when he drew the community cards.

There are many other types of nuts you need to know about poker besides street-level nuts. This will help us determine which nuts each player had during the game.

Different types of nuts in poker

A nut hand is the best hand in the game. There are many interpretations. The “game” can be interpreted as the street with the most substantial hand or having all the community cards up to the river. To avoid confusion, we need to be familiar with the various types of nuts so that we are referring to the same thing when reviewing a game.

You need to be aware of these types of nuts when you play poker. This will help you strategize and perform better against your opponents.

The Nuts

The general term “the nuts” describes a hand that beats or ties with any other player. The community cards were the reason that all three of the players had the nuts, but they lost it in our case. It’s possible to have more than one player with the nuts, but you can’t beat it on this street.

It can also be stated as a hand that no one else could beat, but could lose on the next street. The nuts can only be understood when you are watching professional poker games. It is a hand that is impossible for another player to beat or tie.

When you hear the term “nut hand” or “the nuts,” it simply refers to a firm hand one player cannot beat at any time. It can also change over time and lead to a different type of nut hand.

Street Nuts

Because it is possible to beat this nut hand as the game progresses, it is the weakest of all the nuts a player can have. This hand is the strongest on the street, but it can instantly change after the turn, flop, or river with a backdoor draw.

In the game’s early stages, the nuts change so frequently that it takes time to pay attention. It’s the best hand in the game at that point, so it can dramatically alter a player’s strategy.

Ben has every reason to use his pocket ace pre-flop because there is no better pocket hand than AA. He can see the river with this card, which is a strong card. However, in our example, he might need to be more motivated to raise another player.

Chris failed to make a straight and has the nut hand since no combination can beat a straight 10 high. He is more motivated to see the river and would call an all-in from James, who has the stone-cold nuts at the turn. When the K-turn card appears, Chris realizes he needs the nut hand. Even a very low spade-suited pocket card can outweigh his straight 10 high.

Although it can have a massive impact on a player’s psyche and is the most damaging, it’s also the most vulnerable. It’s temporary, but we can still consider it the nut hand at that game stage.

Relative Nuts

Relative nuts are when a player has a hand that is so strong it is difficult to beat but is still possible to tie with another player. This is when a player has a hand that is as good as possible at a showdown.

We can’t lose, no matter what the hand of our opponent. Splitting the pot with another player is the worst thing that could occur to our writing.

Board Nuts

The nut hand is only sometimes won by the player with the strongest pre-flop. Sometimes, the nuts favor a player who has a strong hand pre-flop but loses it after drawing community cards. If the dealer draws 10 JQ K A, this combination will outnumber any possible combinations a player could have. This saves Chris and Ben from potentially fatal rounds by allowing all three players to split the pot.

A “full board” hand is one that ties all players regardless of hand. This is a different type of nuts people don’t talk about, as it voids the entire game. There’s only a little to review except the bets made by players and the drivers that led them to make their decisions.

Absolute Nuts

You can call yourself the absolute nuts or the stone-cold nuts if you have a hand that is unbeatable at any stage of the game. James is the whole nuts in this example because he has the A. Because he has the A, no other player can tie his hands.

As long as his hand isn’t affected by the turn or river card, a player can have absolute nuts as soon as the flop. A royal flush is the finest way to get early stone-cold nuts. It doesn’t matter what turn or river card you have; no player can always tie with a royal flush.

Why are nuts critical?

Although the absolute nuts are what most players consider “the nuts,” it all depends on how the player interprets them. It’s one of the most misunderstood terms in poker. Understanding what nuts means can help you improve your poker strategies. This will help you to understand your opponents’ moves and impact your decision-making.

Knowing what a nut hand means can help you make better poker decisions. It could also save you from losing your chance at a WSOP bracelet. An unspoken rule in professional poker requires you to have the nuts.

The Unspoken Rule: When you have the Nut Hand

While we’ve discussed the importance of having a nut hand in a player’s psyche, there are instances when a player plays slow to give the impression of a weaker hand. This strategy can be used even if you don’t have the nuts. If the game ends, it’s not a reason to have a player check the nuts on the river. This practice is frowned upon by professional poker tournaments and can even be punished.


Anyone can get confused by the nuts, especially given the many ways that players interpret them. It could refer to the strongest hand on a specific street, overall, or for the entire game. However, if the game is over by the time you have the nuts, it just implies that you can never lose. The various kinds of nuts you may come into when playing poker are listed below:

  • The Nuts 
  • Nuts in any street
  • Relative nuts
  • Board nuts
  • Absolute nuts