Poker 104: Starting Hands

Poker 104: Starting Hands

There is not a unique mode to play poker; you can play better or worse. So you can easily win money if you play better than your opponent.

A card deck has 52 cards. Possible distinct starting hands are 52*51 / 2 = 1326. Wow, would be really difficult to learn what to do (call, check, raise or fold) with all of them. Luckily, most of them have identical value before the flop (the 3 first community cards). For example, A♥ J♥ and A♠ J♠ are identical, because both have an Ace and Jack of the same suit.

There are 169 starting hands combinations of different value. Yes they are a lot too, but they can be divided into (in order from better to worst):

  • Pocket pairs, e.g. 9♠ 9♣
    • 13 cards * 4 suits * 3 other suits / 2 half repeated.
    • 78 out of 1326, aprox 6%
    • There are 13 combinations of different values
  • Suited Cards, e.g. A♣ 6♣.
    • 52 cards * 12 cards (same suit different number) / 2 half repeated.
    • 312 out of 1326, aprox 24%
    • There are 78 combinations of different values. 13 cards * 12 other cards/ 2 half repeated.
  • Unsuited Cards, e.g. K♠ J♥.
    • 52 cards * 36 cards (different suit and number) / 2 half repeated.
    • 936 out of 1326, aprox 70%
    • There are 78 combinations of different values

Hand groups

David Sklansky proposed some pairs have a similar value, so they can be played similarly. If we put a reference number of pairs value (being the 1 the best), we could divide starting hands into:

So if you have a 7 and a 2… hey, you better fold. Or you can bluff… which will be explained in our next post.

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