Your Poker Cards
To succeed at Hold'em, you must have the ability to judge the winning potential of the first two cards you are dealt (your pocket cards). There are exactly 1326 equally probable combinations for two cards dealt from a deck of 52.
However, because the suits are all equally ranked, the number of unique starting hands is reduced to 169. Not all 169 starting hands occur with the same frequency because the number of combinations required to produce each unique starting hand differs. For example, of the 1326 combinations, six result in AA, four result in AK suited, and 12 result in AK unsuited. In terms of percent, this means the chance for AA is 0.45%, A-K suited is 0.30%, and A-K unsuited is 0.90%.
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Compute All Poker Probabilities
To compute probabilities, it is useful to divide the 169 starting hands into five distinct groups. The groups and the number of hands in -
Each group is based on what type of hand can be built when initial cards are combined with favorable community cards. The chart below summarizes the five groups and their frequency.
Frequencies of Starting Hands
|Pairs||5.9%||Two cards of the same rank|
|Straight Flush Draws||13.9%||Two suited cards that are also part of a straight. The hand 10♥ 8♥ is a straight flush draw (the flop could come up J♥ 9♥ Q♥).|
|Straight Draws||41.6%||Two cards that form part of a straight, but not a flush. With 10♥ 8♣ only a straight is possible after the flop.|
|Flush Draws||9.7%||Two suited cards that cannot form a straight.|
|No Draws||28.9%||Two cards that cannot be used as part of a straight or flush.|
For example Q♥-4♣.
Subcategories of starting hands can be identified within these five groups. For example, a hand that contains two of the top five cards such as Ace, K, Q, J, or 10 is an Ace-high straight draw. The subcategories of starting hands can be grouped into roughly four categories of strength. The strength of a starting hand, identified in the table below, is described as premium, strong, drawing, or garbage.
Strength Categories of Starting Hands
|Premium||Hands that can win on their own||Big pairs A-A, K-K, Q-Q, J-J, 10-10; straight. draws with aces such as A♣- K♣, A♥-K♦.|
|Strong||Hands that will probably need improvement to win.||Medium pairs: 9-9, 8-8, 7-7; Ace-high straight draws such as K♥-Q♦; Royal Draws such as K♥-J♥.|
|Drawing||Hands that will need help from the board to win.||Little pairs: 6-6, 5-5, 4-4, 3-3, 2-2; connected straight flush draws such as 5♦-6♦; Ace-high flush draws such as A♥-7♥.|
|Garbage||Should not be played.||All other hands not listed above.|
Patience is required to play Hold'em because you rarely receive premium and strong starting cards. The next table summarizes the frequency of selected premium and strong starting cards.
Frequencies of Selected Starting Hands
|Starting Hand||Frequency||Odds Against|
|A-A||0.45 %||220 - 1|
|k-k||0.45 %||220 - 1|
|A-K||1.2 %||82 - 1|
|Any premium Pair A-A, 10-10||2.3 %||43 - 1|
|Any Royal Draw||3.0 %||32 - 1|
|Any Ace-Face Combination||3.6 %||27 - 1|
|Any Ace High Flush Draw (Including Royals)||3.6 %||27 - 1|
|Any Ace High Straight Draw||14.3 %||6.0 - 1|
|Any Hand with an Ace (Including A-A)||15.4 %||5.5 - 1|
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