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# Essentials in Texas hold ’em hands

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There are (52 × 51)/2 = 1,326 distinct possible combinations of two hole cards from a standard 52-card deck in hold ’em, but since suits have no relative value in poker, many of these hands are identical in value before the flop. For example, A♣J♣ and A♥J♥ are identical, because each is a hand consisting of an ace and a jack of the same suit. There are 169 nonequivalent starting hands in hold ’em (13 pocket pairs, 13 × 12 / 2 = 78 suited hands and 78 unsuited hands; 13 + 78 + 78 = 13 × 13 = 169). These 169 hands are not equally likely. Hold ’em hands are sometimes classified as having one of three “shapes”:

• Pairs, (or “pocket pairs”), which consist of two cards of the same rank (e.g. 9♠9♣). One hand in 17 will be a pair, each occurring with individual probability 1/221 (P(pair) = 3/51 = 1/17).
• Suited hands, which contain two cards of the same suit (e.g. A♠6♠). Four hands out of 17 will be suited, and each suited configuration occurs with probability 2/663 (P(suited) = 12/51 = 4/17).
• Offsuit hands, which contain two cards of different suit and rank (e.g. K♠J♥). Twelve out of 17 hands will be nonpair, offsuit hands, each of which occurs with probability 2/221 (P(offsuit non-pair) = 3*(13-1)/51 = 12/17).

It is typical to abbreviate suited hands in hold ’em by affixing an “s” to the hand, as well as to abbreviate non-suited hands with an “o” (for offsuit). That is,

QQ represents any pair of queens,
AK (or, sometimes, AKo) represents any ace and king of different suits, and
JTs represents any jack and ten of the same suit.