Explore All 169 Hold'em Hands With Jennifer Shahade on 'The Grid'

'The Grid' with Jennifer Shahade

If you're looking for another strategy-based poker podcast to add to your listening rotation, let me recommend one to you. You might have heard about it — "The Grid" hosted by Jennifer Shahade.

"The Grid" takes a unique approach to discussing no-limit hold'em strategy, with Shahade inviting a different guest each episode with a plan to devote one show each to every starting hand. As Shahade explains in the show's intro, "The Grid" presents "a 13 by 13 episode journey through every possible no-limit hold'em hand, 169 hands in total, from aces to seven-deuce offsuit."

As you know, in hold'em you can be dealt 13 pocket pairs, 78 unpaired suited hands, and 78 unpaired offsuit hands — thus a total of 169 different starting hands (not taking the different suits into account).

Each episode of the podcast involves a guest sharing and analyzing a no-limit hold'em hand he or she played, with Shahade's goal being ultimately to produce one episode each for the 169 distinct hands. The shows are all around a half-hour long, beginning with the hand histories and analyses and then usually ending with the guests sharing other stories or anecdotes about themselves — often (but not always) poker-related.

Shahade, of course, is a two-time U.S. Women's Chess Champion and Woman Grandmaster, which means the 8-by-8 grid that makes up a chessboard has long been a focal point of her study of that game.

Meanwhile the idea of "the grid" of starting hands is a somewhat recent development in poker, having gained more prominence as players have begun using tools that employ such a grid to display starting hands on a computer screen. For example...

The 169 hold'em hands, presented as a grid
The 169 hold'em hands, presented as a grid

Shahade is so far just 10 episodes into her 169-episode journey, but already the show has proven both entertaining and enlightening as guests discuss hands in which they've gone to battle not just with A-A or A-J suited, but J-2 suited and T-5 offsuit.

The self-imposed requirement not to repeat any of the starting hands already ensures a lot of variety when it comes to the hand analyses, such as when players are forced to play hands from the bottom of the grid that often don't get a lot of attention since the usual recommendation is not to play them at all.

But the variety of guests means listeners are exposed to a lot of different strategic approaches as well. Take a look at the 10 guests (and hands) that have been featured so far on the show:

  • Episode 1: Lex Veldhuis plays K-4 offsuit and discusses the mental game
  • Episode 2: Kevin Rabichow plays T-5 offsuit and talks high-stakes heads-up strategy
  • Episode 3: Jamie Kerstetter plays A-A and sends her opponent on a (hilarious) "walk of shame"
  • Episode 4: Maria Konnikova plays 7-2 offsuit and gains a new perspective on bluffing
  • Episode 5: Ryan Laplante plays K-Q suited in the $10K WPT Five Diamond Poker Classic at the Bellagio
  • Episode 6: Greg Shahade plays A-9 suited in a sit-n-go and sparks a debate between "math" and "feel" players
  • Episode 7: Matt Matros plays J-2 suited in the NBC Heads-Up Championship
  • Episode 8: Jake Abdalla plays 8-2 suited against Phil Ivey in an online mixed game
  • Episode 9: Aleeyah Jadavji plays A-J suited and attempts the ultra-rare triple check-raise
  • Episode 10: Carlos Welch plays K-Q offsuit in an online tournament against a player he thinks might be Phil Laak

New episodes are arriving every week or two, with the next few featuring such heavy-hitters as Matt Berkey, Dan Smith, and Christopher Kruk.

The show can be heard via "The Grid" website, on iTunes, on Stitcher, and other places where you listen to podcasts.

  • Explore all 169 starting hands in no-limit hold'em with @JenShahade on her podcast, "The Grid."

  • Veldhuis (K4o), Laplante (KQs), Matros (J2s)...analyzing *all* the hands on @JenShahade's "The Grid."

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