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Online Poker News Archives - January 16, 2006

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January 16, 2006

On poker some hands can be nothing but trouble

Author: Daniel Negreanu

When you're playing No Limit Texas Hold'em, there are certain cards dealt that are known as trouble hands. They earn this label because they're difficult to play and often dominated by better hands. [also see our Poker Staring Hands Page]

Here are the top 10 trouble hands to watch out for:

J-8 — The trouble with this hand comes when the flop is Q-10-9, giving you the second-best straight. If an opponent is playing K-J, a hand most players would, you're simply doomed to lose everything you have. It would take a miracle, or a ridiculously good read on your part, to get away from this trap.

A-10 — While it's an excellent hand in blackjack, the A-10 doesn't fare nearly so well in Texas Hold'em. Here's the problem: If you happen to catch another ace on the flop, A-K, A-Q and A-J will all have you beat. Add to that, if the flop comes A-7-4, for example, you'll lose to A-7, A-4, A-A, 7-7 and 4-4. The only time you can really feel safe with A-10 is when you flop two pair or make a straight.

K-Q — It looks like a powerful hand, but you have to be careful with this one. While K-Q will be OK much of the time, if someone has raised the pot in front of you, he may hold A-A, K-K, Q-Q, A-K or A-Q. Your hand is dominated. If the flop is Q-7-2, you'll have a powerful pair with a powerful kicker, but you'll also be trapped. Now you're forced to put more money in the pot and are doomed against Q-Q, K-K, A-A or A-Q.

A-x suited — These hands look appealing because they're two parts of a powerful ace-high flush. Be careful, though, not to fall in love with drawing hands in No Limit, as you'll often be forced to pay an all-in bet to try to complete the flush. Another problem with this hand: if you're playing Ah-6h and flop an ace, your kicker will usually lose to anyone else who is also playing an ace.

K-10 — It's just not a strong hand and should be folded in the face of a raise. If you catch a king on the flop, you have to worry about kicker trouble, and if you flop the 10 you'll have to worry about A-10 and all of the overpairs: J-J, Q-Q, K-K and A-A.

A-J — Here's another hand that's ideal for winning small pots but destined to lose big ones unless you make a straight, flush or two pair. If the flop comes, say, A-8-3, and your opponent makes a big bet, you'll be forced to play the guessing game. Does he have A-K or A-Q? Did he flop two pair or maybe three of a kind? Unfortunately, with A-J you'll often be guessing more and winning less.

Q-9 — The problem here is the same you faced with the J-8. When a flop comes K-J-10, you'll be doomed to lose all of your money to a player with A-Q. On top of that, if you hit your pair of queens your kicker will almost surely be beat.

K-J — This is known as the rookie hand. It seems too good to fold, but not quite strong enough to raise with. As a general No Limit Hold'em rule, if it's not good enough to raise with, then it's not good enough to call with. The big problem with the K-J is that it's dominated by too many hands your opponents would likely play: A-A, K-K, Q-Q, J-J, A-K and A-J.

J-J — It's the fourth-best pocket pair in the deck, but when someone else puts it all-in against you, the decision with pocket jacks is excruciating. Even if you call correctly, and your opponent has a hand like A-K, you'll still only win the pot a little more than half the time. If you guess wrong, and your opponent is holding Q-Q, K-Kor A-A, well, then you're a 4-to-1 underdog.

A-Q — Ask any pro what hand they hate most and A-Q will be right at the top of the list. Why? Well, because it is a strong hand in most situations, but when you're up against the dreaded A-K you'll be almost a 3-to-1 underdog to win the pot.

See our Poker Staring Hands Page

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