Relative Hand Strength

 

When you’re playing online poker and you look at a hand rankings chart it seems pretty obvious what a strong hand is and what is not. At the top of the hand rankings you have straight flushes, quad and full houses. Then you have weaker holdings like two pairs, one pair and high cards down at the bottom. But looks can be deceiving. Sometimes in poker a strong hand like a full house can be beaten, and sometimes a weak hand like Ace-high can be the best out there.

When you are dealt a hand pre-flop the strength of that hand is absolute. For example, it’s a fact that pocket Aces is the best hand you can be dealt, and that 7-2 is statistically the worst hand you can be dealt. However, once you add in other factors to the hand – such as the flop, turn and river and the playing styles of your opponents – things become much more complicated. 
 
Let us to use an example to illustrate what we mean. You have a full house holding 3-3 on a 3-A-K-K-Q board. When you’re up against a weak opponent, Player A, who overcommits with hands, you should treat this as basically the nuts. However, if you’re up against a good, tough player (let’s call them Player B) and face a lot of aggression then suddenly your hand loses a lot of its appeal. When Player A is in the hand pocket Threes are so strong because you could get paid off, or even raised by, inferior hands like any Ace, trip Kings, straights or perhaps just a Queen. In this instance a full house lives up to its literal billing as a very strong poker hand. 
 

That’s not the case when playing Player B. There’s still a strong chance you have the best hand, but if you face any aggression in this spot you definitely have to proceed with caution. That’s because strong players will only commit significant chips here when they also have a full house, holding hands like A-K or K-Q, a straight, or perhaps a strong King such as K-J. As you can see, this is a much narrower range of hands that will give you action – and many of these hands beat you too! 

Relative Hand Strength
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