Some poker hands are tempting to play, but they’re going to lose you money over the long haul. Despite their tempting nature, it would be wise to start folding them.

Bigger Game Range

If you happened to have read The Perfect Range, then you will find contradicting information here, but keep in mind that The Perfect Range was written for beginner-intermediate players playing in low limit games. In those games, you can splash around a little more because you can outplay your opponents on the flop, turn, and river. When you play in bigger games, you need to tighten up. This doesn’t mean you should be passive, though. Actually, when you play a hand, you want to be more aggressive. This doesn’t apply to every hand because you need to change speeds, but you want to be more aggressive in general. I like to refer to it as uber-TAG, or uber-Tight-Aggressive.

Dangerous Hands

A lot will depend on your situation because poker is situational. That said, if you’re looking for a basic idea of what hands are +EV and –EV after being run on computers for millions of hands, the following hands are –EV:

44

33

22

KT-off

QT-off

QJ-off

JT-off

Of course, many more hands are –EV. I only listed these hands because many poker players like to play them. Two important points here. One, if you’re in late position and nobody raised, the value of these hands increases tremendously and they move into +EV territory. Two, if you’re not in late position or if there has been a raise, you’re asking for trouble.

The three pocket pair hands are obvious. Either you flop a set or you don’t. Since you only flop a set 1 in 7.5 tries, it would only be wise to call if you’re getting the right odds. That takes care of that. The other four hands are trickier yet easy to understand.

Those unsuited Broadway hands are trap hands. Think about it. If someone raised pre-flop and you’re holding one of those hands, the most likely scenario is that you’re dominated. For example, if you’re holding KT and you’re up against AK or KQ, you’re in big trouble. If you’re holding QT and someone is holding AQ, you’re in big trouble. If you’re holding JT and someone is holding AJ, you’re in big trouble. Notice a theme here?

You might be saying that these are hypotheticals. Stop the nonsense. Obviously, if someone raises pre-flop, then they’re likely to hold a premium hand. And if someone (or more than one person) calls, then it’s a near guarantee that those four hands are dominated. If that the case, why the hell would you call? You WILL NOT make money over the long haul with these hands in those situations. If you want to open-raise with them in late position, go for it. That would be a good idea. You can also open-raise with them from mid-position in a soft game, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re very experienced and playing in a soft game.

The good news is that if these four hands are suited, they shift to +EV territory. Another surprise is that a computer simulation of millions of hands showed that K9-suited and Q9-suited are +EV over the long haul. This is good news as it can add a bit more fun to your game. Just don’t get into the habit of calling with those hands in early or mid-position. For me it’s a fold early and an open-raise late. Middle-position play depends on the table.

Conclusion

Pocket fours and lower as well as KT-off, QT-off, QJ-off, and JT-off might look appealing, but pocket fours and lower will lose you money over the long haul, and the other four are trap hands. Tread carefully.


Tyler Nals

If you love poker, then you're in the right place. My poker strategy books are written for the beginner-intermediate player, and many readers have told me that these strategies have helped them turn a profit. My books are easy to understand and written from a macro perspective on how to win as a poker player. You will also find an entertainment angle. Regardless of what level poker player you are, you might enjoy A Fishy Poker Tournament, The Dark Side of the Felt, and The Poker Office. These are poker adventure books, not poker strategy books.

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