Loose-passive players are often amateurs who play anything in the blind optimism that something will turn up and save them. These ‘calling stations’ can be spotted a mile off and will often get fleeced as a result of their bountiful enthusiasm. You can avoid falling into this category by developing a better understanding of the hands that win in Texas Hold ‘Em, and the hands that you should gracefully side-step.
Hands like 2-6 are notoriously dodgy. If you have them suited and are looking to make a flush, it is likely that someone will have a higher flush. If you make a straight, it is likely they will make a higher straight. Your made 3-4-5 on a lucky flop might very well lend a three through seven or four through eight hand to someone else for example.
Low, split hands
First off, beware cards that are low in rank and divided by more than four rank points i.e. 2-7, 2-8, 3-8. Even if these hands are on suit, your flush will be very low value and you won’t be able to make a straight given the number of central dividing cards. You might get lucky if the rest of the table is having an equally poor hand but you’re best advised to respectfully decline play of one of these hands.
Look out for the nines
The nine card is a deceptive beast. It is just high enough to pair up regularly with a low card in which no straight can be made, and just low enough to miss out on making a strong pair should they come up. They’re sneaky because, if you do make a pair you want to play it, particularly if there are lower cards on the table but you’ve still got tens, picture cards and aces that could crop up or get pulled out of the pocket in an opponent’s hand. Hole cards of nines paired with twos, threes and fours are statistically weak hands.
Unsuited low cards
Any combination of unsuited cards under the value of eight could cause you trouble. Putting money in to see whether you could pull out a straight could just be burning cash pointlessly. Of course you can get lucky but it is generally the action junkie or bored player that will take a chance against the odds on these cards.
Good vs bad
One of the most difficult hands to fold is one that holds a picture card or ace card in conjunction with a low card. A-2 may get you excited because you have an ace. And it’s true that sometimes you will steal pots on the strength of you ace but invariably another player will have an ace and a higher card (kicker) that will out-rank your hand. While it pays to take a look at the flop with this type of hand, be wary of matching raises and going to the wire with it unless you are in a heads up. The chance of other players in a larger game beating you is much, much higher.
As you play more hands you will undoubtedly learn through dogged experience what card combos carry the best and worst winning stats but the above gives you a rough guideline as to the types of hands that will catch you out most often. You’ll also learn the benefit of purposely playing a bogus hand to mislead your opponents as to your level of play. Throwing in play of a bad hand early in the game can help encourage them to underestimate you – it may prompt them to call you through a strong hand later in the game. Making a strategic decision like this is good play; you are making a strategic decision to lose a hand, but leaving it to lady luck and expecting to survive poor hands regularly is just poor judgement and will have players ee-awing at you as they scoop your chips from across the table.