Ending up with just a high card after the river is almost never desirable. In fact, high-card hands are the least powerful poker hands in the game. They unequivocally lose out to all the other poker hands, except for lower high card hands. The question is: can you win poker games with a lowly high card hand? Well, you can indeed win a car race with a bicycle, but it is a very unlikely outcome. Joking aside, making the most out of a high card hand is never an easy feat, but it might bear fruit every so often.
In this article, we’ll explain the exact definition of a high card in poker, the chances of being dealt a high card in each street and what tips you should keep in mind when playing with a high card.
WHAT IS A HIGH CARD IN POKER?
There’s not much to a high card as a poker hand — it is simply a five-card hand consisting of different suits (usually four suits, but not necessarily) and unmatching ranks. Seeing as obtaining five random cards is, by no means, difficult, the high card hand is the lowest-ranking hand in the game.
Here is an example of such a hand: Qh – 7s – 5h – 3c – 10s. As you can see, there is no hand combination possible this way, which means that it will rank last among any other made hands. As we’ve mentioned previously, high cards won’t be beating any other made hand, at least, in the traditional Texas hold’em. Seeing as it ranks dead last in the list of the poker hand rankings, a high card will get beat by any made hand — even a simple one pair.
Can a high card ever be a winning poker hand? While it is very unlikely to be one, a high card wins against other lower-ranking high cards. Using the example above, the hand Qh – 7s – 5h – 3c – 10s will beat a hand such as 10s – 8d – 4s – 3h – 2c, seeing as the highest card of the former hand (Q) beats that of the latter (10) — despite the fact that both hands fall under the same hand ranking.
As a side note, the examples above show how high card holdings usually feature different suits, making them very hard to make a strong hand.
ODDS OF MAKING A HIGH CARD OUT OF A 52-CARD DECK
There are a total of 1,277 distinct high-card combinations in poker. You can draw this hand in a total of 1,302,540 ways, which places the overall probability of being dealt this hand at 50.1177% — that is, roughly once every two hands.
ODDS OF GETTING A HIGH CARD IN TEXAS HOLD’EM
The funny thing about the odds of being dealt a high card is that they are lower than that of being dealt a pair in a hand of seven cards (five community cards and two hole cards). Statistically speaking, it is more likely that you will make at least a pair than it is to obtain a high card in this case.
ODDS OF HITTING A HIGH CARD ON THE FLOP
Now, let’s have a look at the odds of flopping a high card in traditional poker. The chances of making a high card on the flop are the biggest of any other poker hand, excluding pocket pairs.
- The odds of flopping a high card with any starting hand are 63%.
- The odds of flopping a high card with any starting hand that is not a pair are 66.9%.
- The odds of flopping a gutshot with ace high and king are 67.2%.
ODDS OF HITTING A HIGH CARD ON THE TURN
The odds of hitting a high card on the turn equate to 6/47, that is, 0.1277 or roughly 12.8%. It should also be noted that, unless the overcards are ace and King, then it is definitely possible for an overcard to fall on the turn. In turn — pun intended — this makes it impossible for us to make top pair when the river comes around.
ODDS OF HITTING A HIGH CARD ON THE RIVER
The odds of hitting a high card by the river are calculated by considering the odds of not hitting and substracting them from 100.
- Odds of not hitting on the river are 40/46, that is, 0.7586. Roughly speaking, 75.9%.
- That places the odds of hitting by the river 24.1% (calculated by subtracting 75.9 from 100).
IMPLIED ODDS OF A HIGH CARD IN POKER
Seeing as the high card is the lowest hand in the list of poker hand rankings, it has the worst implied odds in the game. High hands are usually abandoned early on by most players, especially if the two following variables are present:
- The highest card in the high-card hand is a low-ranking one.
- There is a wet board (a board texture in which multiple hand combinations are possible).
Seeing as any given hand can beat a high-card hand, it is not recommended to sink too much money into it. Forget a full house, three of a kind or a royal flush — even as much as two cards of the same suit can beat this hand.
HIGH CARD POKER TIPS
Holding the weakest hand in poker is not a very desirable position, but in some cases, it is possible to get something out of it.
- Don’t fold this hand too early – If everybody seems intent on checking their way to the turn or river, avoid folding. All it takes is one card to help you make a pair, thus potentially swaying the pot odds in your favour.
- Be wary of bluffing with a poor high card – Bluffing is always great when it works, but if somebody calls your bluff at showdown, you might lose quite a lot of chips.
- Know when enough is enough – High hands have the biggest limits of all the poker hand rankings. They lose out to all the other hands, which is why it’s vital to make correct tells as to what other players have.
- Practice makes perfect – Practice really does make perfect when it comes to playing online poker, so if you are yet to start playing this wonderful card game, feel free to hop by the poker tables of EnergyCasino to refine your skills!
High card Probability in Texas hold’em
- Hitting from the flop: 63%
- Hitting on the turn: 12.8%
- Hitting on the river: 24.1%