Poker is not an easy game. It’s easy enough to learn, but it can be tough and to be truly successful requires guts and smarts.
You see that play out when you watch beginners lose pots with the top five trouble hands. But the fact of the matter is some hands are just simply harder for new players to play than others.
However, there are five poker hands that are difficult both for beginners and pros. The big difference however is that the pros know how to fold these hands much quicker.
To everyone who is just starting out or is in the intermediate stages of poker, here’s some advice. Ace-jack is not a premium hand. In fact, it's not really even a good hand. Sure, it looks cool when you peel back your two off the felt but the fact is, it isn’t.
Unless you're heads-up, you have to treat Ace-Jack the same as Ace-Ten rather than playing it as if it's Ace-King.
More than any other hand, the king-ten has been called the "sucker's hand”. If you're holding this hand, know that there are a lot more boards that will give you the second nuts or a bad beat than boards that will win you the pot. If you don't flop broadway, you're in a tight spot.
Flopping top pair of kings will almost certainly pit you against a king with a higher kicker. Flopping a pair of tens is rarely the top pair, and if it's not, you have straights to look out for. Flopping two pair again puts you at risk against a straight, and you're going to run into more two pair-versus-sets scenarios with this hand, because people are playing all the pocket tens and pocket kings they're dealt.
This one’s like the king-ten, but a little less ominous. Because it is not as risky, some players see this hand as being more powerful than it really is. If you flop two pair, you're going to have to watch out for sets, and you still have to be concerned about kicker problems on one pair.
This hand is better left in the unwanted pile or discarded than played too often.
2. POCKET JACKS
This is the second-most-overplayed hand in poker. Pocket jacks is a top-five hand and is a killer hand when compared to almost any hand you can be dealt. But, if you raise it pre-flop, the only hands that ever call you are far ahead, or a coin flip (excluding the odd lower pair).
However, if played properly, this can be a very profitable hand. When you play it too much though, as beginners tend to, it will cost you a large portion of your roll. No matter how strong your hand was before the flop, after the flop (unless you hit your set) you only have one pair.
The dreaded Ace-queen is the biggest trouble hand for many people. Many pros will tell you they have given away a lot of their chps on a big click with big chick. The Ace-Queen is not a top 10 hand but does make it into the top 20.
For the sake of this discussion, we will consider Ace-Queen off suit and Ace-Queen suited together. Obviously, Ace-Queen suited is a stronger hand. Practically speaking, however, this shouldn’t have a tremendous impact your decision making. Think of it more as a tiebreaker in marginal situations. If you’re on the fence and it’s suited, lean toward playing; if it’s off suit, lean toward passing.
The Ace-Queen is a hand that plays well against short stacks and is useful for both raising short stacks and calling raises from short stacks. It also plays well when you’re on the short stack, as other players are likely to call your raises with a range that includes a lot of combinations that Ace-Queen dominates.
But it is isn’t a hand that flops well, so it’s difficult to play with deeper stacks, especially if you’re out of position. The Ace-Queen is also awkward when you have a medium to large stack and you’re playing against medium stacks.
These five hands obviously don't cover every tough situation you’re likely to face as a beginner. It’s not that you shouldn't play these hands, but you should play them carefully. Be aware that there’s more to them than first meets the eye. Practice makes better.