MCU poker tip: High cards better against fewer foes

Some poker players play their hold ’em starting cards consistently wrong. That’s because they don’t understand a basic truth


When you have low, coordinated cards, such as 8-7 of the same suit (often called “suited connectors”), you’ll generally fare better in the long run if you play against many opponents. However, high cards alone, such as A-K unsuited, A-Q unsuited, and K-Q unsuited usually have a greater profit expectation against just one or two opponents.

The reason is that high ranks are much more likely to win for you with only a high pair, if the board helps you. Also, with high cards against just one opponent, you can win without helping at all a measurable percent of the time. You will almost never have that happen against a large field of opponents.

Big mistake

The biggest mistake players make is raising with small- or medium-ranking suited connectors from early positions. That raise discourages others from coming into your pot — and usually you need many opponents for that hand to average a profit. Raising also diminishes your immediate pot odds when holding these speculative hands — the opposite of what you want to do.

With low-ranking speculative hands, meaning low suited connectors and small pairs, you should be thinking: I want as many opponents as possible, as cheaply as possible. So, don’t raise. — MC

Published by

Mike Caro

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Known as the “Mad Genius of Poker,” Mike Caro is generally regarded as today's foremost authority on poker strategy, psychology, and statistics. He is the founder of Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy (MCU). See full bio → HERE.


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