Tight and Loose Games - A Rule of Thumb for the Popular Poker Games

Most serious players like to play tight poker in loose games because loose players are usually less experienced and tend to play a lot of bad hands. If you agree with this approach, then here's an easy way to make a quick skill level evaluation of the players in just about any limit game.

Here is your rule of thumb . . . Regardless of the game, only about one out of every four or five starting poker hands dealt are normally playable. Good players know what they are and usually only invest their money in the better starts. Inexperienced players don't know and tend to find too many hands to play. Sometimes this is more than half of the hands they are dealt.

We can take a look here at the starting hand ratios of the popular limit poker games found in American casinos, riverboats and online. The examples here assume full tables, average position, and consideration given to forced bring-ins and blinds.

Texas Hold'em > Combinations of all possible two card hands = 1,326
Total combinations of normally playable starting hands = approx. 350 (26%)
Playable starting hands = Approximately One in Four

Omaha > Combinations of all possible four card hands = 270,725
Total combinations of normally playable starting hands = approx. 59,500 (22%)
Playable starting hands = Approximately One in Five

Omaha High Low Qualify > Combinations of all possible four card hands = 270,725
Total combinations of normally playable starting hands = approx. 47,000 (17.4%)
Playable starting hands = Approximately One in Five or Six (actually about 1 in 5.7)

Seven Card Stud > Combinations of all possible three card hands = 22,100
Total combinations of normally playable starting hands = approx. 5100 (23%)
Playable starting hands = Approximately One in Four

Seven Card High Low Qualify > Combinations of all possible three card hands = 22,100
Total combinations of normally playable starting hands = approx. 5400 (24%)
Playable starting hands = Approximately One in Four

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