Do you know the WORST Starting Hands in Online Poker?

Posted June 19, 2010 by Andrew in Tips

Worst Staring Hand in Poker I see so many articles and sources showing off the best starting hands in poker (Texas Hold’Em). There isn’t a poker place you can go to online or offline that will showcase the pocket cards that you can safely play.  And I’ll admit it.  I’ve certainly contributed my fair share of articles regarding this area of poker playing strategy.

However, there’s not nearly as many articles that show you exactly what the poorest hands are and why they are a no-go despite the temptation to play.   There is another article on that discusses this topic, but I thought it might be time for a refresher.

You’re not tempted to play bad starting hands, you say?

Well, the truth is that MANY amateur players play pre-flop in hopes of catching something on the flop with horrible starting hands.  Of course amateurs don’t usually play bad starting hands as a matter of habit.  They will likely fold the majority.  But I bet you that after folding 5-10-15 hands in a row, the temptation play (just for sake of actually playing – since online poker is incredibly boring if all you do is fold!) rises like magma in a volcano.

Before you know it, amateurs who should know better are playing the 2-7.  That being said, never forget that poker is a game of chance and skill.  How you play your hand is JUST as important (some might even argue MORE so) than what cards you play.  People routinely win big on garbage hands.

While conventional wisdom tells you to avoid the cold statistical reality of playing a bad hand (which I do agree is the correct play), I thought I would dedicate one article to the lowest of the low.  Statistically, all the hands I will list below are all about equally bad.  If bluffing is not your strongest quality either online or offline, then I recommend folding with these hands no matter what.

If you have the 2 card and the 6 card (suited or off suit)…

  • Bad News. The card values are just too low to have a chance.  The really cruel twist is the straight flop (5-4-3).  Hooray, you hit a straight.  Sadly, another player may have a 6 card and 7 card.  Or the same or higher may come on the turn and river.  Now you have the lower straight and you lose.  Oh, and if you think a flush will save you… think again.  Odds are another player will have a higher flush.  You could get a straight flush, but now we’re talking statistical improbabilities.

If you have the 2 card and either the 7 card or 8 card (suited or off suit)…

  • Worse News. You don’t even get the possibility of a straight on the flop.  I even think this hand (2-7) is universally regarded as the worst hand in poker or “the hammer” (Poker Fact: Actually an optimistic reference for a player who actually wins the pot with this starting hand or “dropping the hammer”).  Again, there is the same problem with a low flush draw if you do get lucky with a flush.  This is the throw-away hand.

If you have the 9 card and either the 2 card, 3 card, or 4 card (suited or off suit)…

  • Not Good. First of all, there are no straight possibilities.  The 9 starts to tempt you that it’s a higher value number card.  Most likely, you’ll pair the 9 which will give you some false hope that you could win with that (or at least throw more good money into the pot).  The big problem is that 10, J, Q, K, A pairs have you beat.  And cruelly, even another 9 pair will likely beat you since you have the low kickers with either 2, 3, or 4.

If you have the 3 card and either the 7 card or 8 card (suited or off suit)…

  • Still Bad. Let’s put it this way: About the only hands you can beat are the ones above.  Again, there is still no straight possibility and statistically other players will likely have better cards.  Don’t lose your money on this one!

I hope this helps you with your poker playing.  We all sort of intuitively know that certain hands are bad hands.  Sometimes it’s nice to know exactly why they are so bad and generally unplayable to the average player.

I should also say that there are plenty of other weak hands, but these are the scum of the Texas Hold’Em starting hand world… so I chose to focus on them exclusively.  Finally, if you win on an off suit 2-7, please post a comment and gloat about your victorious and skilled playing – you will have deserved it!

About the Author


Andrew Keyes is a poker enthusiast, a writer, researcher, speaker, and consultant. You can visit to get poker articles along with winning poker tips, tested poker strategies, the latest poker news, free poker tools, cool poker resources, and more! Visit today and you can download some of the best poker bots for automating your poker play!