Here is the game: You are playing Texas Holdem and in each of the various situations you get to choose which hand you would rather have 78 suited or AJ offsuit.
- Everybody folds and you are first in on the button.
- There are five limpers and you are on the button.
- There are two callers and you are in middle position.
- You are in the big blind against an early position raiser.
- Everybody folds and the button raises and you are in the big blind.
Think it over before reading any further.
- This one is pretty clear cut. AJ figures to be the best hand and plays well in a short handed pot.
- This is the one that the Internet people shocked me on. They all liked the AJ in this situation. This is the result of computer analyses, AJ won a significantly higher percentage of pots than the 78 suited.
In poker the winning players are not the ones that win the most pots. Obviously if you played every hand you would win many more pots than a conservative opponent, if you plan on playing every hand, make sure that you bring plenty of Slot money, you’ll need it. When you have one opponent that is virtually playing every hand, try to sit on his left. You want to isolate this person as much as possible. Also, you should make a deal with him, “every time I win a pot I will give you $5, every time you win a pot you give me $5” this will be quite profitable.
Now back to the analyses: 78 suited plays well with many people ( in this case 6 or 7 depending on whether the little blind calls), this is a drawish type hand and you will always be getting great odds to draw. Say for example, that you flop as little as an inside straight draw, you will be getting the right price to take a card off, especially if you have a back door flush draw. You are in late position, if you should flop a flush draw or an open end straight draw, you can raise on the flop if the bet comes from early position. One of two things will happen. You miss your draw on the turn, when it is checked to you, you can check and take your free card. You hit your draw on the turn, now your raise on the flop built you a bigger pot.
AJ does not play well against a large field of players. With AJ you will flop two pair, trips, a straight, or a full house 3% of the time. By the way, we are not considering flops of A77 as flopping two pair. When you flop exactly one pair, half of the time it will be a jack which does not have to be top pair. The flop could be KJ or QJ. You have 7 opponents so it is difficult to get the pot thinned out, when you do flop top pair.
This is where computer analyses lets us down. It assumes that all opponents go to the river on every hand. In other words, the opponent that had 56 of diamonds will continue to play even when the flop is AKQ of clubs. This is why the win percentage of AJ is skewed. Also consider when the flop comes QsJs 9d and the five opponents check and the player in front of you bets, you have to fold. Now the next two cards are 2c 4c and the winner of the pot has something like the J10. You folded the best hand. Another example is when the flop come 567 and you fold and the Ace or the Jack comes on the turn, which would have ended up being the best hand. The bottom line is that this hand is hard to play and you will not end up winning all the pots that the computer analyses shows you will.
- AJ is best here. This is not a multi-way pot, you should raise and try to eliminate the rest of the players. If you are in a game where the opponents on your left are routinely calling raises, the 78 suited is getting closer. But I would still rather have the AJ.
- Most early position raisers have decent raising standards. AJ is a big trouble hand in this situation. When the flop comes Ace high you are afraid that you could be in kicker trouble. When the flop comes Jack high you are afraid that you are against an over pair. When the flop comes AJ you could still have the worst hand. Even if you have the best hand you will usually end up missing bets and giving free cards. The 78 suited on the other hand doesn’t have all of the above mentioned problems. When you flop a pair with all small cards on the flop, there is a decent chance that the raiser has a holding like AK and you have the best hand. When you flop two pair or trips, you are much happier with your hand. And these are the types of hands that will flop draws, which are much better hands to have against a possible big pair. Consider the situation where you flop a draw and are up against AK no pair. If that player checks on the turn behind you, you get to draw for free. It is up to you to decide if you think that a bluff will be profitable on the river if you end up with 8 high. That is where knowing your opponent comes into play.
- This does not have to be a legitimate raise like the example above. When everybody folds and the button raises, there is a wide variety of hands that the raiser can have where AJ is the best hand or is in OK shape. For example, the raiser has any ace. An example of being in OK shape would be when the raiser has a smaller pocket pair than Jacks, where you have two over-cards.
As you can see, there are many instances where you would rather have AJ and the same can be said for 78 suited. The values of the hands changed depending on the exact situation that you were confronted with. It is important for players to understand exactly what kind of pot their particular hand plays best in.