Before learning how to win in poker, it is very important to understand how not to lose. Or rather – lose less.
Even professional players who pay for expensive coaching, study poker charts and memorise sophisticated mathematical strategies – often continue their downswing.
In a game of poker, fundamentals are what make or break a player. Complicated strategies have their place, but all the poker literature will be useless , if fundamentals are not present.
Luckily, today you will learn something which is not present in poker solvers and charts. Pure mathematical knowledge is crucial for advancing your skill level, but it is not “cheat sheet” to success in poker, as many “poker coaches” claim.
What they will not tell you, however, is which poker hands are costing you most money in the long term. And no, its not 7-2 offsuit.
Why these starting hands cost me money ?
There are total 169 poker starting hands. You may get a rough idea from preflop charts about the range of hands you should play from each position.
In reality, the starting hands which lose you most money, do so, because they put you in dangerous spots. Yes, there are many such hands, and in poker you rarely feel safe, but these five poker hands will make your life miserable, more often than not.
Today we will not concern ourselves with positions, overcomplicating the very simple truth, that some poker hands lose you money. They have place in your arsenal, but use them very carefully, as the cost may be your whole stack.
Without further ado let us dive into it :
5 . Suited 6-5
Look, we like suited connectors. Who does not right ? What is not to love ? Perfect hand for 3/4bet bluffing, it is not popular in preflop charts and has ton of playability. When it hits the flop, it hits it good with potentially flush draws, straight draws or combo of the two in the works.
The way this hand costs you money is by being seemingly the best hand, when it gets there.
First of all , hitting the nuts with this hand is by having a straight. To be the nuts straight, on the board must be 2-3-4. This means other players probably have air and will not pay you off.
This example is actually the least of your worries. When you draw with this hand, like any other suited connector, your are in position of disadvantage, as you often invest in seeing turns and rivers.
The problem becomes when you hit your flush prematurely. You are sitting comfortably, thinking it is a wrap and you will win the hand. In reality, you can be stacked by better flush. You can lose all, if one more card of the same suit hits the board.
Nothing more frustrating to have a flush on the flop and receiving a bad beat, from someone with single higher card of same suit, who hits his flush on later streets.
Same principles can be applied for straights and trips. In summary, with 6-5 you are getting paid less often when you have it, while bad beats / cooler situations are common.
4. Q-9 offsuit
Two relatively high cards with somewhat good connectivity . It is perfect example of a starting hand, with which you almost never know where you sit. In most situations, Q-9 is not blocking top of the range of your opponent, leaving you to play mostly against stronger hands.
Its not low enough, to play with low boards, and it is not suitable for high boards either. Leaving it basically in the middle of nowhere.
When it hits pair, kickers are weak. By far the most common way of losing with this hand. Calling 3 streets with top pair, only to get the bad news later – losing the hand due to weak kicker.
3. A-5 offsuit
Playing the suited version of this poker starting hand is acceptable, but offsuit ? Come on, you know it will become ugly on later streets. You have weak ace, poor connectivity and the hand is included in many preflop charts.
This is a recipe for disaster. Good opponent will milk you like a farm cow. He knows you probably have this hand in your range – you lack the element of surprise. You are left with weak ace , which plays poorly on almost any board.
Notice how all of the hands on this list, are leaving you guessing most of the time and only seem like good hands, but with each new street, they are raising more questions, than giving answers.
2. 6-9 Suited
Especially if it is 6-9 hearts. This hand is causing problems mainly to recreational players. But you know what ? At least 80% of all poker players are recreational, which means this hand is demaging a lot of people.
As you may have guessed, this starting hand has everything to do with the meaning of number sixty-nine.
Whether it is for fun, out of sentiment or you feel lucky today – people keep playing this hand. I feel there is no need to explain it is not very strong hand, but playing it a lot from various positions, often by calling preflop raisers, is how you lose money.
1. J-T suited
Most controversial one, but in our opinion this is the most dangerous poker hand. Many would argue it has ton of playability, it is a must play from many positions. All that is arguably true, but at what cost ?
Playing J-T is like taking a roller coaster at Disney World. But it ends with a train wreck, instead of photos with Mickey Mouse.
Sure, we all know how fulfilling is to hit Q-K-A on flop, against multiple opponents. It feels like you have won a lottery.
In many other occasions, however, poker gods are not that generous. They give us hope and promise of riches but leave us with bad beating ( pun intended ).
More concrete about J-T suited. Actually it has all the negative aspects of Q-9 and 5-6. It right in the middle, you always are drawing for something, keeping you invested in the hand. Your kickers are weak + you are dominated by huge amount of opponents range. Imagine you face JQ+, 8Q+, K9+, A8+. You are behind all those hands. Now go to the preflop charts and check what percentage of your opponent’s range, consists these poker hands.
The proper way of playing this hand is either trying to hit the nuts, as cheap as possible, or just fold it. You never are happy with the flop either. Hitting two pair ? What if opponent is drawing with K-Q or he managed to hit some other straight ? You hit pair of jacks. Is my kicker good ? Received premium draw ? How much chips i am going to lose this time, chasing ? What if my opponent knows my exact hand, as J-T often plays itself out ?
No this is not ” Who Wants to be Millionaire” , these are questions going through poker player’s head for just a few seconds.
These 5 poker hands will make your life miserable if you are not careful. Try to play them less and with more attention to detail, to avoid long term losses.
Instead of those popular poker hands try implementing some surprising ones to keep your opponents guessing. After all, keeping it fresh and spicing things up, is how game develops, not by reading preflop charts, before bed and after waking up. Till next time !