Poker Guide – The value of starting hands

 One of the most important things a poker beginner needs to start learning is how important it is to know the “math” part of the game. In fact, all the choices and strategies we can make at the table depend on it, and it offers us a series of very important information that we must always keep in mind. If before we started talking about the first attention to be had during the game, and it is also time to talk about pure and simple probability: which are the starting hands that have the most chance of winning?

The starting hands

By “ Starting Hand ” we mean our two cards that come to us during the current hand. It is basically the second great information that we have available during a stroke (the first is precisely that of the starting position in the hand) and it is also based on this that we will have to start making decisions about it.

Those who approach this game, at least initially, will give great importance to these two cards and how they will bind together during the hand. We will then understand later how relying only on this is not very productive in the long run, but in the meantime, since our eyes will be conditioned by the value we attribute to these cards, let’s at least try to be aware of their real value in terms of the possibility of winning and not only for what we “perceive”.

The chance of winning the starting hands

There are 169 possible combinations of cards that we can have as a starting hand, at least in terms of numerical value and not of precise suit (which interests us only if it is the same for both cards). By definition we will call two cards of the same suit ” suited ” and it is particularly important to evaluate because as we will see, having this type of pairing could increase our chances of winning.

When we talk about ” chance of winning ” we are obviously talking about a theoretical condition: the beauty of poker is also the possibility of inducing the opponent to believe something different from what we have in hand, so apart from the mathematics a lot will depend on how the hand is unfolded. But in general, the percentages that we will see later in the table are useful for two reasons: meanwhile to have a precise idea of ​​the absolute value of the hand we have, to have a precise data that we can then use during the mathematical calculations that the game requires to understand how profitable an action is.

The value of the hands also depends on the number of players involved. Even in this case, if only we begin to become familiar with the fact that the more people there are in one hit, the more our chances are tapering even if we started with good or excellent starting hands (which is why often the best strategy is to limit the number of people involved).

Best Starting Hands: Percentage Tables

Not that it took an expert to figure out that AA, KK, QQ and so on are the best hands to have in a game of poker. But analyzing this table better also allows us to make several other considerations. Let’s start with a simple reading: in this case we are talking about the win percentage of our hand (represented in the left column) , compared to a “random ” hand (that is, whatever our opponent may have in his hand) and compared to the number of participants in hand (always with any hands).

It is an important consideration because obviously in reality we will often have additional information that allows us to narrow the “range” (the range of possibilities) of the opponent’s hand, actually changing the chances of winning and the analysis we will have to do.

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The perfect turn card for bluffing against a loose-aggressive

Jonathan Little in the past few weeks has been the protagonist of a really interesting hand at WPT Borgata . Not so much for the importance of the pot, but for the thought process and the excellent strategy with which the American player went to snatch the pot from a loose-aggressive . A commercial that shows all of Little’s class and that highlights some aspects of the rivals’ readings.


It is the perfect demonstration of how the turn is often the watershed of a hand in poker and how certain well-thought-out bluffs can give their results , without having to jeopardize the stack or permanence in the tournament. As usual Jonathan Little analyzes the hand from preflop, motivating every single action, to the point where he strikes the decisive blow.


The game in position on the Loose-Aggressive


Jonathan Little is busy on day 2 of the last main event of the “ $ 3,500 WPT Borgata “. The bubble has burst and is being played now to reach day 3, then aiming for more important steps in the payout. In the 6,000-12,000 big blind ante 12,000 level , the American opens the ball at 28,000 from utg + 2 with J 10 and can count on a total stack of 734,000 pieces.


Small bet on the flop


Jonathan Little and his rival are ready to see the flop: in the three community cards we find Q 5 5 .


“ This is a very favorable flop for me, with only one overcard present . As expected, my opponent opts for the check and I have two options in front of me, considering that the check behind I tend to exclude a priori. So my choice is divided between a small bet and a heavy bet “.


“ In the first case I know that on the one hand I can limit the damage on any oppo raise , but on the other hand I deliver fantastic pot odds to my rival. The heavy bet definitely brings out all those hands that have not tied and his call would be a wake-up call that I cannot underestimate for the continuation of the hand “


Eventually Little opts for a small size and comes out at 20,000 , a quarter of the pot. His opponent calls and the turn is folded.


Turn as a turning point


The two players start heads up on the turn and when there are already 114,000 pieces in the pot, a king falls in fourth street . It is a perfect card for Jonathan Little’s strategy which also sees a two-sided straight draw. Oppo “knocks” for the second time and the word returns to the American.


Little comes out at 100,000 and as expected his opponent lets go. The 114,000- chip pot adds to the American’s stack. Once again impressive is the clarity in the actions and the mental process that turns out to be spot on.

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