Hand frequencies are an important part of one’s poker game, especially in today’s aggressive online games that have so much pre-flop action. Knowing hand frequencies will give you a better idea of the likelihood that an opponent is holding a certain hand. It’s about knowing what percentage each hand combination has, or the number of ways that a hand can be constructed using the cards in the deck. This information can assist with putting a player on cards as more information is revealed during the rest of the hand.
Different hands are more likely to occur than others. There are 1,326 possible two-card combinations. Most of them are junk hands that are rarely played. In fact only 27% of starting hands are generally considered to be playable. They include pocket pairs, two high-suited cards, two unsuited high cards, medium & low suited connectors, and ace & medium combinations. The other 73% are considered rags, and rarely come into play unless your opponent is aggressive and bluffs often.
There are 28 combinations for pocket pairs which make up only 5.88% of possible hands. Two high-suited cards can come in 40 different combinations, making up only 3.02% of the possible starting hands. There are 120 combos for two unsuited high cards (9.05%) and medium & low suited connectors have 52 combos for 3.92%. Ace & medium pairs have slightly more at 64, for 4.83%.
If you have more information on the cards in the deck, the likelihood of an opponent holding a certain hand will change. It’s important to know that as soon as the cards have been dealt, some hands are more likely to be out there than others. If you think for some reason that an opponent has either A-A, K-K, Q-Q or A-K, you must realize that A-K alone is almost as likely to be their holding as the rest of the hands put together – 16 vs. 18 combinations.
The likelihood of an opponent holding certain hands will change as more information is revealed. If you’re trying to figure out whether a player has A-A or A-K and an ace comes on the flop, it’s much less likely that they have pocket aces. Instead of six possible combinations, the likelihood is cut in half to three. The more information that the hand provides, the more accurate you can be figuring out an opponent’s holdings.
This information can be used to determine the chances that you have in the hand. Those presumed chances can be compared against the pot odds to determine your next play. Hand frequencies are not an exact science. Figuring out the likelihood of an opponent’s holding is only that; a likelihood. It’s about putting your opponent on a range of possible hands based on the betting being displayed and deciding if the cost warrants that you continue.