The Most Overplayed Poker Hands in Tournaments and Cash Games

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A pair of aces sits on top of stacks of poker chips in a poker-chip case.
BetMGM Apr 18, 2024, 3:12 AM

Whether you play poker online or you prefer to play face-to-face, you may have played what you believed to be a highly valuable hand, only for things to end in disaster. Yes, there are certain hands in poker that are undoubtedly stronger than others in the poker hand rankings, regardless of whether you’re playing in a tournament or in a cash game. However, you may be surprised to discover that some of these hands are overvalued, overplayed, or both.

Learn more about these Texas Hold’em hands and how to avoid falling victim to them.

1. Ace-King

Wait a minute. Ace-king (A-K)? Isn’t this considered a strong hand?

Yes, it is, but late poker pro Gavin Smith felt it was an overplayed hand. In an interview with the SunSentinel in the article “Commonly Overplayed Ace-King Can Be Trouble,” Smith described a game that he played at the World Poker Tour Championship at the Bellagio in 2009. Unfortunately for him, the A-K didn’t pay off how he hoped it would.

“I think it’s a badly overplayed hand,” Smith said. “If either of them had re-raised me preflop, I would’ve dumped it. It wasn’t like I was going crazy with the hand. I just chose to play it that way in that spot. I think people could increase their overall expected value with A-K if they were to really slow down the way they play it.” 

It’s a shame that things didn’t work out for Smith in that hand, as it may have ended up being an exciting poker underdog story.

Ultimately, whether suited or offsuit, it’s still one of the strongest starting hands in Texas Hold’em. But players shouldn’t overplay it. Push early to get the most out of this hand, but consider folding if things don’t get better after the flop.

2. Ace and Any Other Weak Card

Players are often tempted to play the A-X (also known as rag aces.) However, players need to properly assess the strength of the second card, which they sometimes fail to do because they’re so excited to have one of the most valuable cards in their cash game or tournament hand. Once they have a good idea of the actual value of their second card, they can decide how to proceed. 

In the YouTube video “The Science Of Weak Ax Hands | Poker Quick Plays” from The Poker Bank, they define any combination of A-2 to A-8 as a weak A-X hand, regardless of whether they are suited or offsuit. This means that an A-A (the best hand in poker to start with,) the A-K (which has already been discussed,) A-Q, A-J, A-10, and A-9 are considered strong A-X hands.

The video also highlights a number of other reasons why players often overvalue and overplay this particular hand. Firstly, many players think that they have a good chance of hitting something big on the flop. However, by scrutinizing the stats using the analysis tool Flopzilla, it’s revealed that the odds of this actually happening are less than +2,757. More realistically, the odds that you might hit a top pair are +513, but that’s still far from being a reliable play. Things do get better when the A-X is suited, as it opens the opportunity for flush draws. 

The video goes on to explain that a weak A-X hand misses two thirds of the time, but people also make mistakes when they do hit. The narrator discusses a number of scenarios, but ultimately concludes that if you’re considering playing a weak A-X hand, aggression preflop is the preferred way forward since things don’t tend to get much better postflop.

Ultimately, when playing a weak A-X hand, it’s important to remember that it’s risky since the chance of you losing naturally increases the longer the game goes on. You could face off against combinations like A-K, A-Q, A-J, or even weaker pairs that will beat your weak A-X hand. This is especially true when your A-X hand is offsuit, as this lowers the chance of you forming a flush with your starting hand. 

3. King-Jack Offsuit

Nathan Williams, also known by his online nickname BlackRain79, is a popular poker content creator, author, teacher, and micro-stakes poker player. On his poker blog, a contributing author discusses four poker hands that aren’t worth your time in the article “4 Overrated Poker Hands You Need to Just Fold.” The four hands discussed are jack-9 suited, ace-10 offsuit, pocket 2s, and king-jack offsuit. 

The author highlights how the main problems with the king-jack offsuit hand are the fact that it’s offsuit, meaning that you don’t have an opportunity for a flush, and that it’s not as good as a connector hand. This means that it often loses to statistically stronger hands, like ace-king, ace-jack, and king-queen.

This hand is undoubtedly one of the most deceptive, as it’s not bad, but it’s not great either. The fact that it is offsuit as opposed to suited also further limits your options. As the author recommends, it could offer some opportunity postflop, but if it goes down to a 3-bet, it’s safest to just fold.

4. Suited Connectors

A suited connector is a double-edged sword. On one hand, they are key to winning in straights or flushes. However, they are really dependent on the flop, which is where the problem arises. 

Most people don’t get what they need on the flop, but they hope that the last two community cards will help them turn things around. They commit to playing hand because they’ve tunneled in on the idea that they’ll win with a straight or flush, when the odds of them landing that straight or flush are extremely low.

If things aren’t looking good on the flop, just fold. Suited connectors are decent, but they aren’t hands that you should automatically play through if the flop doesn’t work out.

5. Medium- or Low-Value Pairs

A pair of aces, kings, or queens is one thing, but once you start going further down, whether you should play medium- (pair of 10s to a pair of 6s) and low-value pairs (pair of 5s to a pair of 2s) starts to become increasingly questionable. 

Similar to suited connectors, people often fixate on the idea of getting three or four of a kind, or a full house or two pair. Some lower-skilled players are even happy to ride a pair of 10s all the way to the end of the game despite how quickly they drop off in value.

If you have medium-value pairs, it might be worthwhile to see what happens with the flop, but with low-value pairs, it’s often a good idea to fold, especially if someone raises. However, if people are calling, you might at least want to see what the flop brings before folding.

Put Your Newfound Knowledge About Poker Hands to the Test at BetMGM

Now that you have a better understanding of poker hands and how some of them are overplayed, you may want to test this knowledge out in poker games online at BetMGM. BetMGM is a premiere online casino and online poker site that offers players exciting cash games as well as poker tournaments. These games and tournaments are also available in multiple variants, including Texas Hold’em, Seven-Card Stud, and Omaha, so you can pick your preferred way to play. You can also test out other skills in a cash game or poker tournament, such as hand ranges or the 10-to-1 rule, to take your game to the next level.

And when you’re done playing poker, you can also try your luck at dozens of other fun online casino games, like online slots, roulette, and blackjack, or even wager on your favorite sports at our online sportsbook.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.