Trouble Hands in Texas Holdem

Playing Trouble Hands in Texas Holdem

Just like there are many hands in Texas Holdem that will win you money; there are plenty of horrible and deceptive hands that can lose you a huge chunk of your bankroll. The sooner you learn the quality of your hand in relation to your opponent – or the sooner you realize you’re behind – the more money you’ll save yourself in the long term. This article intends to address to most common hands that become the underpinning problem for new poker players (and alot of experienced players also!).

Firsly, many internet and live poker players find it difficult avoiding a player who’s managed to make a set on the flop with pocket pairs. This has personally been my greatest weakness in recent years playing internet poker. Particularly when you have a very strong preflop hand such as AA or KK, it is incredibly difficult to work out when opponents are sitting on a set on the flop. This is because the range of hands you can put a player on who has hit a set on the flop through pocket is diverse.

Trouble Hand Scenario

Consider the following example: I hold KK, I raise 3 times the big blind, get called by a player with 22 and the flop comes up 2hQs7s. Now, after calling my preflop raise, I can assume the player to be on a range of hands including Ax, Kx, Qx, suited connectors or an entire range of pockets. The chances of him having high pockets or AA or next to none as he surely would have re-raised me preflop. Even after i lead out after flop with my pocket kings (which currently look the best hand), if I get called I am only reducing my player down to: a flushdraw, Qx, A2, A7, 77 or 22. Any other hand and it is unlikely he would call (it is also unlikely he has QQ as he would have re-raised my preflop bet). The problem is that for the majority of hands I can safely put him on, I am ahead by a wide margin, when in reality am significantly far behind. I need to bet big to prevent him getting the odds to call ony any flush draw, but by then there is a serious committment of my chips into the pot – almost to the point I could well be committed. Meanwhile, with his constant calls, I am receiving very little information about his hand and am not really improving my situation at all. Before you know it, you’ve committed yourself all in thinking realistically the player has top pair. If I make two paid on the turn or river, and he makes a full house, than I am in serious trouble.

How to Avoid This Situation

The best way to avoid the situation above in my opinon, is to make a stronger bet than you normally would in that position if you assume your opponent could hold a set. Although you are making an inefficient risky bet early on in the game, you could well be saving yourself the rest of the stack further on. If he calls your bet, he clearly holds a stronger hand. If he folds, than you win a decent pot.

Other hands which definately ruin an amatuer poker player’s game involve playing suited cards far too often. New players in particular see these hands as worthwhile because they think if they hit their unlikely flush, it will pay off big time (which they are right in assuming). However, by over playing these type of cards, they will significantly reduce and profitable play with respect to pot odds, and will inevitably run out of bankroll before they hit their monster pot.

Another trouble hand for new poker players is low connected cards like 5c,6h. Again for the same reason above, if they catch an unlikely straightdraw or two paid than they assume they will win big. However in the long term they are simply leaking money with unprofitable play.

I’ve saved the best danger hand to last. The single most unfortunately, badly played, and disastrous hand for new and experienced players alike is a Rag Ace. Rag aces are simply aces accompanied by a low ranking holecard below ten. The problem these hands tend to cause, is that players find it bizzarely difficult to let go of a hand if they see their ace on the board. They will often end up losing alot to a better Ace kicker. The best advice I can give to these hands is to fold them before the flop. Even with pre-flop raises there are definately likely to be players in the flop with much better Ace kicker hands.

One Response to “Trouble Hands in Texas Holdem”

  1. Orly S says:

    As Phil Helmuth has said, we are not good enough to fold KK. After the flop, unless there is an A, or the board is paired or coordinated for a possible flush or straight, I cannot fold my pocket Ks. Sometimes a fish calls a 3x to 4x raise pre-flop with junk hands and gets lucky to get a 2 pair against your KK, but small probability. Sometimes even if you bet pot size on the flop, a fish, having top pair or even mid pair, would call, hoping to catch 2 pairs or trips on the turn or river. Nothing you can do about that.

    I played in a mtt tournament 2 weeks ago. Level 4, everyone folds, dealer button raises 3x the blinds, sb calls, I had KQ suited and call. Flop goes K K 8, sb checks, I raise half pot size, dealer button calls, sb shoves all in. Pot is around 6k, my raise is 3k, sb shove is 25k. I had 20k left in my chips, I though he had either 88, or K8 to go all-in. Since I had a K, it was more probable that he had 88. However, I cannot fold my trips of K, even if I’m 70% sure he had 88 for a full house. I called all-in, dealer button folds. Sb shows his 88, turn and river came A and 9. I busted out. There’s nothing you can do about it. Would you have folded your trips K knowing the other player may already have a full house on the flop and goes all-in, with 3 players on the hand? Maybe, but I don’t think so.