Play the Board
word type: verb
- To use the five community cards in Texas Hold'em to make your best give card poker hand; not using either of your hole cards in your final five card poker hand. This often occurs when the board shows a straight, full house, or two pair with a high-ranked kicker.
I call. I play the board. -Kevin McBride at the 1998 World Series of Poker
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It is unusual for more than one person to play the board in the same hand. Situations where this may occur is when there is a full house on the board and neither player has a pocket pair (or matches one of their hole cards to one of the pieces of the full house), when there is a four of a kind on the board and neither player can out-kick the fifth community card, or when there is a straight or a flush on the board and neither player has hole cards that can improve upon what's on the table.
1998 World Series of Poker
Perhaps the most famous instance of someone playing the board occurred on the final hand of the 1998 World Series of Poker Main Event between Scotty Nguyen and Kevin McBride. Going into the hand, Nguyen had a massive chip lead, but McBride still had enough chips to inflict a little pain. McBride raised pre-flop, Nguyen called, and they saw a flop of 9-9-8. Nguyen checked, McBride bet, and Nguyen called. The betting was the same after an 8 fell on the turn. When yet another 8 came on the river, Nguyen moved all-in, and what followed resulted in two of the most famous lines in World Series of Poker history.