This article is in a series of articles that will look at various starting hands you can get in hold’em and what to do with them. It will focus mainly on preflop play, and will cover a normal 9 handed No limit game were you have an average chip size and a reasonable read on other players. While these articles do focus on no limit play, the principles can be applied to limit and pot limit games.
Before we look at how to play junk cards I will describe what junk hands are. Junk hands are just as the name suggest junk. That is they are unplayable hands that in the majority of circumstances should be folded preflop. They include hands not mentioned in any previous article. Junk hands include hands with only 1 face card, weak aces that are unsuited or 2 cards that are both lower then 10 and are not suited. Examples if junk cards include, A, 2 unsuited, 2, 7, 10, 7, K, 3 and J, 8 etc
So as you can see this includes a large list of cards. In fact the majority of hands you will get in hold’em will be junk hands and as boring as it might be the best thing to do with them is muck them preflop. If you play these cards you will only cause yourself to lose money in the long run. While you might get lucky once and call with J, 7 and flop J,7,3 the odds of this are unlikely. Do not let results like that fool you into thinking that playing junk is good, it is not and in the long run will cause you to lose a lot of money. You must have the discipline in poker to muck these cards repeatedly preflop.
That being said there are a few situations were playing junk cards can be a good idea. The first such situation is when you are in late position and there are lots of limpers in front of you, in this case it might be worthwhile to limp with junk hands. If you then however do not flop something big like 2 pair or the like you must fold on the flop or else run the risk of losing a large pot with a bad hand. This strategy works well when you are in the blinds, because you already have money invested in the pot. If you can see a flop for half a bet or so and there is already a lot of money in the pot it can worthwhile. If you miss you can check fold and if you hit you can come out betting or check and hope to check raise them on the flop.
Another situation when playing junk is to steal the blinds. If you are in late position you and no one has entered the pot in front of you, you can put in standard size raise and hope to steal the blinds. If the blinds reraise you, you should fold. If they flat call however, you have are last to speak and so might be able to bluff at the pot on the flop or easily fold if they bet.
The last situation were playing junk can be useful is to mix up your play. If you occasionally raise with junk and people can see this (because you show your hand when you fold), the next time you raise with big hand you might get more action because people believe you might are raising with junk again. This however should only be done occasionally and as above if you get reraised or should fold.