Sucked Out on Sucker Hands

by Rich McComas (updated Oct 6, 2004)


What every poker players hates more than anything else is betting heavily into a pot and losing on a show-down.  When you lose to a long shot, to someone with such lousy cards that they had no business betting in the first place, this is called a "bad beat."  When you lose to a hand that was slow-bet or the other player stayed in because of pot odds, it is called being "sucked out." Bad players are the source of all bad beats, but good players can cause a suck-out. 


Often, bad beat stories and suck out stories are simply sour grapes stories that no one wants to hear, akin to the fish stories about "the one that got away."  Sometimes, however, having too many of these stories to tell is a clue that you are playing marginal hands and making yourself more vulnerable to both better players and worse players.


A sucker hand is a hand that you think is good and you play to a show-down without fully considering what the other player might have.  Below is a list of hands that many people play to show-downs and lose.  These hands are enticing, but they are a voodoo curse, a source of more suck-out stories for you to tell that no one wants to hear.


Low Straight Draw v. High Straight

If the flop is a 4-5-6 and you have a 3 in your hand, fold.  Drawing to the low end of the straight is a losing proposition most of the time.  More often than not, you won't complete the straight, and you will be beat by a 7 in the pocket.


Nut Flush v. Straight Flush

Another great way to lose a lot of money is to hold the Ace of any suit in your hand, and draw to a flush, while not watching out for a straight flush.  You have an Ace/Jack suited, and the table shows 8-6-5 of the same suit.  You can be beat by someone with a seven of your suit, plus either a 9 or 4.


King Flush Draw v Ace Flush

If you have a suited K-Q in your hand and a flush on the board, and someone is re-raising you, it is probably because they have the ace.  It would be poor play of them to re-raise on a flush if their highest card is a Jack and they don't see the A-K-Q on the board, so they almost certainly have an Ace.


Jack-Ten in the Hole

Back in the 70's, someone started telling folks that a Jack-Ten wins more hands than a pair of Aces.  Before computers and poker books, there was no one to argue, so many low-limit poker players love this hand.  It is the highest of the possible Trash Hands, and is the most likely to win a big pot in a straight draw as other face cards hit the board.  However, now that we have computers, we know that this hand is marginal at best.  Play it carefully only in late position, and bail immediately if you fail to get a four-straight on the flop.


Nuttin' but Trips on the Flop

When a board pair matches a card in your hand, most players will bet into the pot in order to drive the draws out.  However, if more than one player raises after this flop, you may be in store for a real shocker.  Let's say you have an A-K, and the flop is A-A-8.  You are holding the highest possible trips and the highest possible kicker, so you are probably already licking your chops.  However, if two people raise with you after this flop, then one likely has the other Ace, and the other may have pocket Eights.  In either case, the race is to see which of the three draws to a full house first.  If the others continue to raise and you fail to draw a King, you will either have to fold, or get suckered out.