Unsuited Hands

There are 78 different hands of each combination of unsuited hands. But instead of 4 different suits, there are 12 different suit combinations. For example, AK can come in 12 different unsuited ways:

AvK*

AvKA

AvK^

A^ K*

A^K*

A^Kv

A*KA

A*Kv

AAK*

AAKv

This means there are 936 different unsuited hands (78 x 12) or 70.6% of all hands.

Overall, there are 78 different combinations of pairs, 312 different combinations of suited hands and 936 different combinations of unsuited hands. These add up to 1326 total different hands. Here is a table with the full breakdown.

Type of Starting Hand

Different Quality

Different Combinations

Total Number of Hands

Percentage of all Hands

Pair

13

6 possible combinations

78

5.9%

Suited Hand

78

4 different suits

312

23.5%

Unsuited Hand

78

12 different suit combinations

936

70.6%

Total

169

1326

100.0%

In Hold'em, we do not care about the particular suits until after the Flop. For example, before the Flop, A*J* is the same as A^J>, and 9^8* is the same as 9*8 v. It is only after the Flop that these hands may start to diverge in strength, although sometimes they stay the same if flush factors are non-existent after the Flop. This means there are only 169 different hands that can be dealt. You can see this by looking at the above table and add up the "Different Quality" category. When we look at it in terms of 169 different hands, it is important to keep in mind that the different hands have varying weights. A pair has 6 different combinations, a suited hand has 4 different combinations and an unsuited hand has 12 different combinations.

Understanding these factors becomes useful if we can narrow our opponent's hand down to just a few quality hands. For example, it is possible that a tight pre-Flop player will only raise with six different hands from the under the gun position: AA, KK, QQ, AKs, AKo and AQs. With all other hands, it is possible he would either fold or call. Here are the possible combinations these hands could have.

Hand

Possible Combinations

Percentage of the time the under the gun player holds this hand

AA

6

15.8%

KK

6

15.8%

QQ

6

15.8%

AKs

4

10.5%

AKo

12

31.6%

AQs

4

10.5%

Total

38

100%

Since this player will only raise under the gun with those hands, it means he will only be raising under the gun 2.9% of the time (38/1326). If you have played against this player often, it should come as a surprise to you when he does raise under the gun since he does it so seldom.

If you held JJ, you would know that you are in a dangerous position against this specific player. Against AA, KK, QQ, your hand of JJ is a major underdog. Against AKs, AKo, and AQs, it is only a slight favorite. Here is a chart that shows how often you should win if you were all-in before the Flop.

Hand

Possible Combinations

Percentage of the time under the gun holds this hand

Your winning percentage with JJ

JJ's Equity (Third Column x Fourth Column)

AA

6

15.8%

19%

3.0%

KK

6

15.8%

19%

3.0%

QQ

6

15.8%

19%

3.0%

AKs

4

10.5%

54%

5.7%

AKo

12

31.6%

57%

18.0%

AQs

4

10.5%

54%

5.7%

Total

38

100%

38.4%

Note - the information from the fourth column, and all subsequent winning percentage numbers, are from the Texas Hold'em Calculator on Cardplayer.com.

If you assume no other players are going to play and the blinds will fold, then calling this tight pre-Flop raiser is a losing play even with a strong hand like JJ! Assume you are going all-in at this point (meaning you only have three big bets left in your stack), then you are risking three small bets to win four and a half small bets (three from the pre-Flop raiser, one from the big blind and a half from the small blind). This means you would need to win 40% of the time to break even. With these assumptions, the table above shows that JJ only wins 38.4% of the time on average, so in this instance playing JJ is slightly below the goal of 40%.

In practice, JJ is a playable hand even against a tight pre-Flop raiser. Most players will raise with more hands than the ones listed in the previous table and you will have positional advantage. Let's add in AQo, JJ and TT as two other raising hands by this player, and see how JJ fares in that case.

Hand

Possible Combinations

Percentage of the time under the gun holds this hand

Your winning percentage with JJ

JJ's Equity (Third Column x Fourth Column)

AA

6

10.5%

19%

2.0%

KK

6

10.5%

19%

2.0%

QQ

6

10.5%

19%

2.0%

AKs

4

7.0%

54%

3.8%

AKo

12

21.1%

57%

12.0%

AQs

4

7.0%

54%

3.8%

AQo

12

21.1%

57%

12.0%

JJ

1

1.8%

50%

0.9%

TT

6

10.5%

19%

8.5%

Total

57

100%

47.0%

Note - There is only 1 possible combination that your opponent has JJ because you have JJ as well.

Note - There is only 1 possible combination that your opponent has JJ because you have JJ as well.

Now the average winning percentage for JJ is much higher, jumping from 38.4% up to 47.0%. With the assumptions listed above, JJ now has a high enough of a winning percentage to play the hand. The under the gun raiser is now raising with 4.3% of his hands (57/1326) rather than 2.9%, and this makes a big difference to JJ.

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