Random deal for 8♥ 4♠ (2013-11-20, pre-opening)

How it works:

Each day, Mike Caro deals a hold ’em starting hand, which is displayed on the Poker1.com home page.

When you click the link, you come to a page (like this one) that provides the statistics for that category of hand.

Then we ante $1 million and deal a five-player showdown.

IMPORTANT: This Poker1.com home-page feature is experimental. I haven’t decided whether it will appear daily after P1 officially opens, whether it will appear occasionally, or whether it will be abandoned. The decision will depend largely on the number of visits it receives.

Hands are posted soon after being dealt. Please let me know about any glitches. — Mike Caro

→ Jump down to today’s $5 million showdown

Anatomy of today’s hold ’em hand

Category1: 8-4 of mixed suits

Expected win rate2 vs. a random hand (heads up): 39% (50% is average)

Expected win rate2 vs. eight random hands (nine-handed): 7% (11.11% is average)

Odds against being dealt a hand in this category3: 109.5 to 1

MCU4 ranking against few opponents (limit): 147 of 169

MCU4 ranking against many opponents (limit): 153 of 169

MCU4 composite ranking (limit / all situations): 154 of 169

COPS5 units6 won or lost (limit / nine-handed): -0.16

COPS5 units6 won or lost (no-limit / nine-handed): -0.14

NOTE: Unlike the precisely accurate Mike Caro statistics found elsewhere at Poker1, the chart below was generated by simulating 1,000,000 deals randomly by computer.

When you compare today’s distribution chart to other days, you’ll notice slight differences in statistics that should be exactly the same. Keep this in mind next time you play poker:

Your luck probably won’t stabilize, even after a million deals.

Distribution chart of outcomes7
(final strength)
Chance of finishing
with this outcome
Heads-up win-loss
with this outcome
Straight flush 0.02% 100%
Four of a kind 0.12% 88%
Full house 2.22% 92%
Flush 1.94% 76%
Straight 4.77% 91%
Three of a kind 4.42% 66%
Two pair 22.6% 61%
One pair 45.0% No data1
No pair 18.9% 7%

1This percentage is only provided for paired starting hands, because most other hands results can be heavily skewed by the possibility of board pairs. Although similar issues affect other final hand strengths, the statistics for them usually aren’t quite as misleading.

NOTES: *For ties (i.e., “split pots”), chances are prorated in accordance with the share of the pot won. *This chart doesn’t differentiate between results using both starting cards, one starting card, and no starting cards (“playing the board”). *The win/loss rate for hands in a category ignores ties.


1CATEGORY: There are 169 categories of hold ’em starting hands: 13 for pairs, 78 for non-paired cards of mixed suits, and 78 for cards of the same suit.

Categories have various numbers of members, depending on the suits and the order the cards arrive.

Therefore, there are 2,652 hold ’em starting hands that can be displayed at Poker1, assuming, as an example, that K-7 and 7-K are different. But, because order of arrival doesn’t really matter for hold ’em starting hands, there are actually only half as many combinations — 1,326 — that the 169 categories comprise.

2WIN RATE is based on computer simulation of one million deals through the showdown using Mike Caro’s Poker Probe software or another program based on the Mike Caro Poker Engine. When a hands ties, a portion of a win is credited. (Rounded to nearest percent.)

3ODDS AGAINST: There are only three possible likelihoods for any category of hand. They are 220-to-1 against a specific pair, 330.5-to-1 against any specific ranks of the same suit, and 109.5-to-1 against any specific unpaired ranks of mixed suits.

4MCU is Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy.

The MCU rankings are for limit hold ’em. No-limit rankings are similar and often identical.

The composite category is a compromise between many and few opponents. So, it may seem strange that sometimes it can be higher or lower than both. That’s because it was determined by the actual strength relative to other composite hands, not by adding the two other rankings and dividing by two.

5COPS is Caro Online Poker Solutions — the cheating prevention system for online poker developed by Mike Caro and Bill Handy. Here’s a link to a Poker1 entry about COPS: → Go there.

6UNITS: The big blind is one unit. Therefore, +2.1 “units won or lost,” if applied to a $10 big-blind game, means the hand averages a $21 profit; -0.4 means it averages a $4 loss.

The units were calculated from a COPS database of hands played online. Some hands that are higher on the MCU rankings are misplayed and, therefore, lose more than worse hands (such as 7-2 of mixed suits) that are more often folded.

Unit information was supplied by Bill Handy, my COPS-project colleague. It is subject to revision.

7CHART OF OUTCOMES: The distribution chart lists the likelihood of outcomes from a royal flush down to no pair. The statistics reflect the final strength of the hand after all five board cards are dealt, whether both starting cards are used, one is used, or the board is played. To save time, I simulated 1,000,000 deals and, so, the statistics aren’t as precise as others found at Poker1.com that I personally calculated.

→ Jump up to anatomy of today’s hand

Today’s $5 million showdown

Now we enter today’s hold ’em hand in our imaginary $5,000,000 showdown.

You can treat it two ways: (1) as a substitute for astrology, signaling the kind of luck you can expect today; or (2) as amusement, like I do. Your choice.

Remember that — similar to real life — you only need to be lucky once in five days to break even. So, let’s ante $1 million and see what happens…

Today’s starting hands…

↓ Our hand ↓ ↓ Amy ↓ ↓ Bob ↓ ↓ Cal ↓ ↓ Deb ↓
22% chance 18% chance 9% chance 37% chance 13% chance

(Note: A 20 percent chance is average at all stages.)

Starting hand comments

If we’re destined to be stuck with 8-4 of mixed suits, this is a good day for it. We have a 22 percent chance of winning (better than average), due to the fact that there’s only one card in four opposing hands higher than an eight! Sometimes, in poker, your chances can be a lot better (or a lot worse) than you perceive.

Our ranks are only duplicated once. There’s a four in Deb’s hand. And since Deb could make a pair of fours with a lower kicker than ours, we’re in good shape on the pairing front. However, if we win, it’s more likely to be with two pair than with one pair. Much of our hope centers on winning with a straight. And it’s about half as likely that we’ll win with a flush, since our eight is the highest-ranking heart.

Oddly, Amy’s 7-2 of spades isn’t much worse than average in today’s showdown. She is bolstered by the fact that her seven is the highest spade.

Let’s see the flop…

↑ FLOP ↑

↓ Our hand ↓ ↓ Amy ↓ ↓ Bob ↓ ↓ Cal ↓ ↓ Deb ↓
55% chance 7% chance 25% chance 12% chance 1% chance

Flop comments

Wow! With one wimpy-looking flop, our chances have soared to 55 percent! We paired our top card — an eight. And although a pair of eights after seeing the flop doesn’t seem very commanding, in this case it is.

Remember, our eight is the second-highest starting-hand rank among all players.

Our main threats are Bob, who flopped an open-end straight, and Cal, who hopes to snag an ace.

Show us the turn card…

↑ FLOP ↑               ↑ TURN ↑

↓ Our hand ↓ ↓ Amy ↓ ↓ Bob ↓ ↓ Cal ↓ ↓ Deb ↓
60% chance 11% chance 16% chance 8% chance 5% chance

Turn comments

The turn helped us a little. Why? It’s because it didn’t help opponents enough. Amy increased her chances by pairing deuces and Deb now has an inside straight draw to keep her two-day winning streak alive.

Our chances are now about three out of five that this is the day we secure our first showdown win.

Don’t be disappointed if that doesn’t happen. There’s a good chance that it won’t — but that’s poker.

Number of winning river cards: 23 of 38 remaining

We’re ready to ride the river…

↑ FLOP ↑              ↑ TURN ↑   ↑ RIVER ↑

↓ Our hand ↓ ↓ Amy ↓ ↓ Bob ↓ ↓ Cal ↓ ↓ Deb ↓
Lost Lost WON Lost Lost

Bob won the $5,000,000 pot — a $4,000,000 profit

Our pre-opening results so far: -$3,000,000 in 3 days.

Final poker words

We almost held on to win our first showdown! Bingo for Bob! That nine of diamonds didn’t do anyone else any good. A straight wins.

Final real-life words

That’s an important life lesson, too. Sometimes you don’t need to do anything to succeed, except to avoid catastrophe. Today, we failed to do that.

For now, we’ll ponder today and anticipate tomorrow. — MC


AMY, BOB, CAL, DEB: We play against these same opponents each day. The three-letter names were chosen because they substitute for players A (Amy), B (Bob), C (Cal), and D (Deb).

% CHANCE: The percentages given beneath each players cards are determined by simulation of 1,000,000 deals (5,000,000 individual hands), using Mike Caro’s Poker Probe software. They are rounded to the nearest whole percent, so it’s possible that some could have been very near the mid point and rounded up, when they should have been rounded down, and vice versa. In some cases, the percentages may not add to exactly 100 percent, because of the rounding.

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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