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The Hammer fails? Nov 02, 2006/02:28 PM

7-2 offsuit, also known as the hammer, is the worst hand you can have in Texas Holdem. Since years many people try to win pots with this hand, especially for poker bloggers it is an honor to "drop the hammer" and win a nice pot with this hand. I myself have made fun of my opponents (and embarrassed myself way to often) by playing this hand, even going all-in preflop by raising with it but I never had the balls to do this in a real high-limit game or big-buyin tournament. While I chicken here, others do not. In a 25-50 live No Limit Holdem Cashgame at this years WSOP was a big-money table with name players who had a special deal: everyone winning any pot with 7-2 offsuit gets $200 from each other player in the game! I heard stories about monster pots won (and lost ) with the hammer there. Watch here how the hammer might fail:

Watching this made me re-think. Maybe playing the hammer is not a good idea? Is there something wrong? How can Can Cim Hua lose there? That's not right! If you go in with the the absolute worst hand you should really win the pot, that's a nature rule! I went into "the tank" (which is actually my kitchen) and thought about it. Finally I found the flaw in our thinking: 7-2 is actually not the worst hand to play!!! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT I hear you asking now. Think seriously. We're now changing from joking around to really think about poker and it's changing situations.

Of course, we are investigating preflop situations only here and we don't value our holding by possible hand ranges from our opponents (like somebody has raised or re-raised or the rock-tight young lady looks to uninterested to hold anything valueable) but what we should consider of course is how many players are in the hand. This changes the outlook for 7-2 offsuit to:

versus 5-9 players: hand rank 169/169 (worst hand)
versus 3 players: hand rank 168/169 (second worst hand only!)
versus 2 players: hand rank 168/169
versus 1 player: hand rank 165/169 (!)

Wow. 7-2 offsuit not the worst hand in 33% percent (1-3 opponents). For your information, those hands are even worse: 3-2off against 2 and 3 opponents and 3-2o, 4-2o, 5-2o and 6-2o in heads-up situations. Now, the world can rest in peace again, the hammer is save, Can Cim Hua just played BAAAAAAD. He should really have checked his hand here in the BB and wait for premium trash such as 3-2 offsuit!

How are those hand rankings obtained?
Based on 10 million "nofoldem" deals with this method:

For each possible hole card combination (suits simplyfied, 1=AAo - 169=32o)
   For each possible number of opponents (1-9)
      Simulate 10,000,000 hands of 'nofoldem' (see the river), save win/loss probability
List starting hand by win probability

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