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My Favorite Hand: 9-10 Suited

My Favorite Hand: 9-10 Suited
by Chad Holloway of

Every poker player has a favorite starting hand. Most people stick to the obvious and like the big pocket pairs Aces or Kings. Some like weak offbeat hands such as 7-3 offsuit or K-8 suited simply because they got lucky in the past and took down a large pot. I have a favorite hand myself, one that is neither an obvious choice nor a weak hand, 9-10 suited. Whenever I ask someone to tell me why a particular hand is their favorite, I usually get an answer back like, “I usually seem to win with it,” or, “I don’t know, I just always like to play it.” Very few are actually able to logically describe the advantages and benefits of their favorite hand. The good news is I am able to say why 9-10 suited is my favorite and I am going to share that with you here.

Let me start by admitting, yes, one of the reasons I like 9-10 suited is because I tend to win with it a lot. However, the reason I tend to win so much is because I know when to play it. My favorite time to play 9-10 suited is when I can get into the hand cheap. Ideally, this means being able to limp in but I am often willing to call a small raise as well. This is because 9-10 suited plays well against many raising hands. For instance, 9-10 suited would be a coin-flip against any pocket pair eights or lower and has big pot potential with hands such as pocket Jacks and Queens, J-10, Q-10, K-J, K-Q, K-10, Q-9, J-9 and the like. This is because many of the cards that make those hands enticing can also make your hand. Take the following hand as an example: Your opponent makes a preflop raise, most likely with pocket Jacks (we’ll say Jc Js), and you make the call with 10d 9d.


Even though you are a major underdog (18.67% chance of winning versus your opponent’s 80.96%), it is usually worth taking a look at the flop. If you totally miss, you can get away from the hand; however, often times the flop will come down something like Jd Qc 6d (you’ve suddenly jumped to a 40.30% chance of winning while your opponent dropped to 59.70%). In this case, your opponent will not get away from the hand with top set and you are drawing to a flush and a double gut-shot straight draw, which is better than an open-ended draw because it has the same amount of outs but is much more disguised. If you manage to make your hand you are going to felt your opponent and win a huge pot. Do you see how 9-10 suited plays well against hands in the same range? This example didn’t even take into account those times you’ll be up against a small or mid-pocket pair.

I do want to put two disclaimers on playing 9-10 suited. First, don’t get attached to your hand when all you flop is a pair. This is a weak hand that you do not want to lose money with. Second, you must proceed with caution when you make a straight or flush with the hand. Be sure to ask yourself if it is the nuts and if not, what hands can beat you? Like I mentioned before, many of the hands you’ll be up against will like the cards you do, so sometimes your opponent may have a better straight or flush. Minimize your losses in these situations by trying to keep the pots manageable and playing with caution. Played correctly, 9-10 suited is a powerful hand with unlimited money-making potential. I encourage you to give it a try the next time you play.


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