Worst Starting Hands in Texas Hold 'em

Poker hands that can ruin an otherwise fun game

Most people know that a pair of aces is the best hand in Texas Hold 'em, but do you know the top worst starting hands?

If you know which hands are almost-always-fold 'em hands, you can have an upper hand and perhaps not lose miserably. Fold 'em hands are just as important to improving your poker game and not leaving you with egg on your face, or as experience poker players call bad players, a ​donkey player.

Most of the following worst hands are bad in the same way and will lose at about the same rate.

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2 and 7

Playing cards with chips and dices.
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Holding 2 and 7 off suit is considered the worst hand in Texas Hold 'em. They are the lowest two cards you can have that cannot make a straight (there are five cards between 2 and 7). Even if they are suited, they will make you a very low flush, and if either makes pairs, it is a low hand.

Because it is the worst, some players will play it for fun, and in online games, it is known as "the hammer."

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2 and 8

The 2 and 8 cards are the same basic problem as 2 and 7, only you've got an 8 instead of a 7. An 8 is still pretty bad for a high card. Suited or not, this is a fold 'em hand.

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3 and 8, 3 and 7

The 3 and 8 or the 3 and 7 are better than having a 2 and 8 and a 2 and 7, but just barely. With the 3 and 8, you still cannot make a straight and the 3 and 7 straight has a low probability of occurring.

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2 and 6

If you draw a 2 and 6, toss it. Even if you got a miracle flop of 3, 4 and 5, giving you a straight, if someone has a 6 and 7, you will lose to the higher straight. And, if you get a flush, someone will probably have a higher flush. Against only four players, this hand will lose about 90 percent of the time. 

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2 and 9, 3 and 9, 4 and 9

If you a draw a 2, 3, or 4 paired with a 9, the only thing you have going for you is the 9. If the 9 pairs, you will have a middle pair that could still be beaten by anyone holding pocket 10s, jacks, queens, kings or aces. No straights can fill the gap between these cards either. 

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2 and 10

Drawing a 2 and 10 hand has a legendary quality because poker pro Doyle Brunson captured two World Series of Poker Bracelets with it. On the face of it, it is not a good hand. Brunson is one of the all-time best players of the game. So unless you are a Texas road gambler who has logged thousands of hours at the table, you should not try and win with the Doyle Brunson hand.

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9 and 5

The 9 and 5 hand is another hand people play because it is fun and it is known as the "Dolly Parton," named for her popular song and movie in the 1980s. If you are playing to win, it is not a good idea to play hands because they have a funny name. Over the long term, there is no doubt this hand is a statistical loser.

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4 and 7, 4 and 8, 5 and 8, 3 and 6

If you pull a 4 and 7, 4 and 8, 5 and 8, 3 and 6, toss them. All of these hands will rarely win, especially unsuited. Unless you are in the big blind and you can see the flop for free, fold.

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Face Card Plus Low Card, Unsuited

One of the most common mistakes beginners make is that when they see any face cards in their hand, they play it. Jack and 2, queen and 3, king and 4 whatever the case. Most of these hands are losers. They are considered junk cards. Randomly, they may win a few pots but more often than not, this hand will lose you huge cash when you find the other player has a higher hand.

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Ace Plus Low Card, Unsuited

Another common beginner mistake is playing any ace. It may win occasionally, and heads-up it is a fine hand, but at a table of four or more, this hand should not be played if there is a raise in front of you. Chances are you are going to be outkicked if you are playing an Ace and a low card.