The Strength of Hand Spectrum

You might be able to judge the character of a man by the strength of his handshake, but can you also judge the strength of your own hand? We’re not talking about your handshake in this situation, we’re talking about a game of poker and the strength of the cards you are holding. Typically, players are well aware of the best hand they can be dealt, and the opposite spectrum that you never want to see, the worst possible hand you can be dealt. But, there are so many different combinations that one can find themselves holding, do you know how they all fall in the spectrum of relative hand strength? Knowing the strength of your hand can increase the strength of your game ten-fold.

Obviously, in a game like Texas Hold’em or Omaha Stud, theoretically the best hand you could possibly be dealt is a pair of aces, but the chances of this actually happening are not that good: In reality, 1 in 220- really not that good. The worst possible hand you could find yourself stuck with is a 72 off-suit. So we’ve established the optimal best and the abysmal worst, but what about all those combinations in-between? Which hands should you play and which should you fold? Of course in all situations, the choice is yours. Everyone has different styles and approaches to the game but there are a few things to keep in mind.

For example, holding a mid-pair in a late position when many opponents have already folded is better than having the same hand when you are the first to act. One holding a pair of aces against a full set of players, all of whom keep their cards, only wins about half of the time. The same pair of aces paired against only one other player wins more than 4 out of 5 times. Therefore, the given hand, a pair of aces, and its strength is completely reliant upon the number of players who remain in the game. In other words, fewer obstacles between you and the target makes the target a whole lot easier to hit.

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