How good is your Texas Holdem Hand?

Texas Holdem is no doubt the most popular poker game around because of its quick turn around and simple rules.

The odds of playing a specific hand against another can be calculated. However, the odds is only meaningful in hindsight because you never know what hand you are up against until after the game. Therefore, for example, knowing the odds of playing hand A against hand B, will not help you make decision on how to play your hand (A) because you do not know if you are playing against hand B at the moment.

However, it will help us if we know the general winning percentage of a hand (say Ace-King). In the context of my experiment, when we compare 2 hands, we compare thier winning percentage overall against all hands. Do not confuse them with the odds of one hand against the other.

I have performed a computer simulation of 3.2 billion hands. (For details of the experiment design, see the previous article.) The full results of winning percentage table can be found in another article. The winning percentages are calculated with all community cards used.

So how good are the hands:
1, suited hands are approximately 2%+ better (2.5% +/- 0.15% margin of error). So when you hear someone say their hand is “suited!” you know a sucker’s at the table!
2, Jack-10, a must-call by many, has a winning percentage of 54.25% – barely over 50%! It has always been amusing to see players holding onto the hand on a huge raise.
3, Ace-King has approximately the same winning percentage than pocket 7’s. Pocket 8’s is 2.5% higher than Suited Ace-King. In my opinion, Ace-King is probably the most over-valued hand by most players.
4, King-Queen suited is barely lower than Ace-10 suited.
5, Queen-5 suited is actually slightly better than 10-8 suited and 9-10 off-suited.
6, Any hand with an Ace has better than 50% of chance of winning.

If you would go all-in with Ace-King, you should go all-in with pocket 7’s, pocket 8’s, confidence-wise. However, with these hands, you barely win 6 while losing 4 out of 10 hands. That’s nowhere close to pocket Queens’ winning 8 out of 10 hands. So should you go all-in with Ace-King? considering that if you get a caller, you only have 60% of chance to win (before you know what the calling hand is). Then again, an all-in might scare the winning hand away while keeping Ace-Jack, for example, that has little chance to beat your Ace-King. On the other hand though, Ace-Jack, has a better chance of beating pocket 8’s than beating Ace-King. You never know though – an all-in can scare away for example King-Jack leaving you against pocket 7’s.

The conclusion is if you feel comfortable going all-in with Ace-King, you should feel just as comfortable going all-in with Ace-10 suited, King-Queen, as well as pocket 6’s, etc.