What Hands to Fold in Poker (2020)

Introduction to Folding

Knowing what hands to fold in poker doesn’t come easy to most players. If you’re reading this article, you’re probably concerned that you play too many hands, call too many raises speculatively or on the contrary, play too tight and need some guidance. We can’t all play like Phil Ivey or Tom Dwan and expect play a wide range of hands profitably. This article will give a basic guide on what hands to fold in poker.

Playing Situations, Not Just Cards

Before I get into the hand groups you should be folding. Let me preface it by saying that, as your experience, table awareness and proficiency in Texas Holdem develops, you will often be looking for profitable situations instead of just playing solid poker hands. This is something I always tell players I mentor but this article is designed to help those of you who are having difficulty with pre flop hand selection and want some general advice on what hands to fold in poker.

Ace Rag

Ace rag is almost definitely the most overplayed and overrated hand in Texas Holdem. Even professionals will occasionally overplay the ace if they’ve been dealt junk for hours. The truth is, unless you are in position or shorthanded, these hands are unlikely to generate you much money or help build your stack much. They don’t play particularly well post flop and you are unlikely to extract 3 streets of value if you make top pair. Sometimes when you think you will, you end up finding yourself outkicked.

Low Paint Cards

This may surprise you but the Queen Jack and King Jack hands are not as powerful as you think. Granted, you have two paint cards and have the opportunity to make straights but if you are calling raises with these hands, particularly against early position open raises, you are often going to find yourself outkicked or against a higher pair. If a strong player is opening from under the gun and you are tempted to play Queen Jack from the small blind, think again. The range of hands you are likely to be up against have Queen Jack in bad shape. To make this clearer, if you are against an Ace Jack, Ace  Queen or King Queen, you are approx. 25% to win the hand in a showdown. Let’s also not forget you do not have the pre flop lead.

what hands to fold in poker
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Low Connectors

Hands like 4-5, 6-7 and 3-4 are hands to fold in poker. I make a distinction from suited as they play so much better, but the offsuit low connectors are unlikely to help your ROI. You may have seen some professionals call raises on High Stakes Poker with these hands but that doesn’t mean they were right to and it doesn’t mean you should. Unless you make a hand stronger than one pair, you are unlikely to feel secure with low connectors so just throw them away.

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