Worst Hands in Poker and Are You Playing Them
November 13, 2023
November 13, 2023
The game of poker requires a certain level of skill. For this reason, many players keep playing it only on an elementary level.
In contrast, skilled players know that to master any poker variation, they need to assess the value of their starting hands and whether they hold a good, mid-level, or bad hand.
The truth is that a player can never know the actual value of their hand until all community cards are laid down on the table. They know it is a rookie mistake to play every single hand they are dealt, hoping the flop will strengthen a weak hand.
So, to prevent you from folding pocket aces and making huge moves with bad cards, we will analyze the worst starting hands in poker and teach you what to avoid at all costs.
What Is the Worst Hand in Poker?
The 7-2 off-suit combination is considered the worst hand in Texas Hold’em. This hand is terrible in terms of equity and playability. However, other starting hands are almost as bad as 7-2o, including 8-2o, 8-3o, 6-2o, 9-2o, 9-5o, 10-2o, unsuited face card and a low card, unsuited ace and a low card, and a few others.
Let’s examine each starting hand individually.
Why Is 7-2 the Worst Poker Hand?
Even a non-specialist can see why this starting hand is considered the worst. A 7-2o hand is the least playable — it doesn’t have any straight or flush potential due to the four cards gap. Plus, players can never make a strong pair with it.
Aside from playability, 7-2o is the worst regarding equity (winning chances). It only has 12.4% equity versus pocket aces, which have 87.2% and are considered the best hand you can get. Regarding other combinations, 7-2o has 32% equity against AKs, 29% against JTs, 28% against Broadway, 27.2% against 9-8 suited, and 18% against any pocket pair.
Making trips (three-of-a-kind) with 7-2 offsuit is also possible. However, another player’s trips will most likely beat your hand. We must highlight that 7-2 suited has a little more potential in terms of equity since you can make a low flush with it. When compared against a random hand, 7-2s has 38.16% equity, while 7-2o has 34.58%.
If you are wondering if there is anything worse than 7-2o, the answer is yes. Starting hands with 3-2o and 4-2o are worse than 7-2o in terms of winning chances. However, if your opponents get these cards, they will probably fold, meaning that the likelihood of you being in an advantageous situation when holding 7-2o is extremely low.
Conversely, if you do find yourself in this situation, there is a possibility to win against a set or a pocket pair. You should also remember that this will work when you are playing heads-up and not when there are multiple opponents.
This is why many seasoned players avoid playing once they get a hand like this — their opponents start with a considerable advantage. They usually fold pre-flop because they have invested only a few chips up to that point. If they proceed to the flop and turn, it can get pretty costly as the pot increases and every street is more expensive.
Other Starting Hands to Stay Away From
Let’s discuss the other starting hands poker players should avoid.
2 and 8 (Offsuit)
A combination like this is similar to 7-2o, with an eight instead of a seven. This is the second worst hand in Texas Hold’em, as an eight is still pretty bad for a high card. If you play against eight random hands, it has a 5.6% winning potential, while in heads-up, the equity is a bit better, but still not great — 36.9%.
Like 7-2o, this hand doesn’t let you create a flush or straight. If you form a pair, it will also be a weak one. This hand might work only if you play heads-up and your opponent has a 7-2o. Any other situation calls for a fold pre-flop.
3 and 8 / 3 and 7 (Offsuit)
Even though an 8-3o or 7-3o hand is a bit better than 8-2o or 7-2o, it is still a horrible hand to start with in Texas Hold’em.
These hands also cannot make a flush, and the pairs they form will again be weak. Regarding straight, 7-3o has a very low probability of making it, while it’s a no go for an 8-3o hand. Since these starting hands have a low winning chance (only 4.30%), the earlier you fold, the better.
2 and 6 (Offsuit)
This is also one of the worst starting hands in poker. There is only a 6% chance of winning if you play versus eight random hands and 34.1% against any two cards.
Statistically, this hand loses 90% of the time when playing against four players. This combo can make a straight, but you’re likely to be beaten by another player’s more powerful straight. Additionally, any pairs you form will be too weak.
9-2, 9-3, and 9-4 (Offsuit)
Your starting hand is terrible if you are dealt a 2, 3, or 4 with 9. Even though a nine can be your savior if it makes a pair, that will still be a mediocre pair that other players’ 10s, Js, Ks, Qs, and aces can easily beat.
There is also no chance of forming a straight between these numbers. Thus, it is best to fold, considering these hands only have a 4.50%–4.70% winning percentage.
5 and 9 (Offsuit)
With a 4.90%–5% winning percentage, this hand is also known as the “Dolly Parton” hand. Although many players play it for its famous name, those looking to win are advised to fold.
4-7, 4-8, 3-6, and 5-8
If you happen to get any of the pairs above, it is best to get rid of them since low and especially unsuited pairs rarely make a winning hand. A blind allows you to see the first three cards, better determine your odds and know if you can proceed. But if this is not the case, you should fold automatically.
Everyone and their mother knows how this hand became famous. The late professional poker player Doyle Brunson won two WSOP bracelets with it. Hence, it is often referred to as the “Doyle Brunson” hand. His achievement doesn’t change the fact that this is one of the worst hands a player can play pre-flop.
Like the 7-2o, it doesn’t have straight, flush, or winning pair potential. Knowing that this hand carries only a 4.90% winning probability, many players in Texas Hold’em opt to fold.
Unsuited Face Card (K, Q, J) and Low Card (2, 3, 4)
This combination is also considered one of the worst, although it can bring occasional wins. It will often lose to better hands as it only has a 5.30% equity.
However, many poker beginners fall into the trap by playing every face card. It is better to fold because the other player’s higher hand may cost you big time.
Unsuited Ace and Low Card
Playing a low kicker with an ace is another rookie mistake. You might get over-excited about holding an ace, but you should not play all of them. An ace accompanied by a low card makes a weak hand.
This hand can see occasional wins, but only in heads-up situations. It is better to fold if you are at a table with four or more players and there is a raise involved.
Pocket Kings and Aces
Pocket kings and aces are probably a dream come true for many players, and they are far from being the worst hand.
We have included them on our list as they are not unbeatable and, after all, just a pair. You should always play these hands, but inexperienced players must be careful. They must pay special attention to how many players enter the pot, as there is a high chance some of them can beat your pocket aces or kings.
Considering everything, we can conclude that 7-2o is the worst starting hand in poker by far. Players are advised to fold if they are dealt a hand like this. This is easy to do, especially in situations when they are not blind committed. If you still want to embark on a 7-2o journey, all power to you, but don’t expect to win.