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Get the most out of 7-2

7-2 is the worst starting hand in Texas Hold'em. You are not very likely to win with this hand... or are you?

From 1st to 7th October PokerStars is offering the "7-2 Game" - a favorite in many home games - as an online experience. During this promotion getting dealt the worst starting hand in No Limit Hold'em means that you can win bonus cash if you make that 7-2 hold up.

Keep reading to learn how the promotion works and how to adjust your strategy to get the most out of 7-2.

What is it?


Win a hand in a Real Money Hold'em Ring Game or Zoom Pool while holding 7-2 suited, with or without a showdown, and win a bonus prize. The cash prize you win in the 7-2s game will be based on the table's big blind. The big blind of the table you are playing on is multiplied by the number of opponents on your table, up to a maximum prize of $20.

Example: If you are playing at a 9-handed Hold'em ring game table with blinds of $1/$2 and you win with 7-2s and Boom your hand then you would win $2 (big blind) x 8 (your opponents at the table) = $16 cash prize.

Long a twist to make the game more interesting for regular cash game players in high stakes settings, the 7-2 game is a tantalizing prospect. Win a hand with the worst starting hand in Texas Hold'em and win a prize. But is there actually a strategy towards this bluff of bravado? Of course there is. 
 
Everyone knows 7-2 is the worst hand in Hold'em, starting cards to be folded without a second thought. But with the bonus, does 7-2 suited suddenly become worth playing, or even raising? Is it now as strong as aces? Like anything in poker, the answer is that it depends.
 
In order to make your decision, the first thing is to analyze what this bonus means. Where the game changes the most is in the pot odds that you are offered when dealt 7-2 suited, or the ratio of the bet to the amount in the pot. Every time you are dealt the 7-2 suited, just imagine that there is an extra big blind in the pot for every opponent at your table.

For example, if you are under the gun with 7-2 suited in a nine handed table of $1-2 No Limit Hold'em, instead of there being $3 in the pot (small + big blind), the pot as far as you are concerned is actually $19, or the amount of the blinds plus $16 ($2*8 players). With $19 in the pot, even a hand as bad as the 7-2 is surely worth playing for an opening raise. By making it $5 for example, a raise of 2.5 times the big blind, you are effectively getting almost four to one odds on stealing the pot right there. Yet every other player at the table who doesn't have the 7-2 is only getting the standard odds to call or raise the pot. In this situation it will always be worth it to make an opening raise if you are the first player with the option to raise holding 7-2 suited. 
 
Where the game does not change, however, is in the relative strength of 7-2 suited against other hands willing to play for a pre-flop raise. Heads-Up against a range of pre-flop raising hands, the 7-2 suited fares terribly, winning 30% of the time or less. For this reason, it'll often be better to try and win pots with the 7-2 early, or not at all. The more the pot grows and the more you are forced to rely on the value of the cards themselves, the less value this hand will have. 
 
There is one exception: If you are up against very tight players it can be a good idea to try to bluff them of their good but not great hands by showing strength by barreling all streets. Of course you will have a problem if your opponent wakes up with a hand he can call with.
 

Let's look at a few more examples. 

Q: The game is $1-2 NLHE, nine handed. You are on the button with 7-2 suited and the cut-off, a loose player has opened the pot to $5. What should you do?
A:  Re-raise. With the bonus money on offer, there is effectively $24 in the pot ($3 + $5 + $16). This pot is offering you attractive odds on winning right now against a late position raiser.  
 
Of course, the situation becomes a little more complicated as the pot gets bigger. For example, let's look at the following situation:
 
Q: The game is $1-2 NLHE, nine handed. You are in the big blind with 7-2 suited.  The pot is opened in middle position to $6 and the button re-raises to $18. What should you do?
A: Strength has been shown in two seats, and either of these players is likely to have a hand that can resist pre-flop pressure. Also, the more money that is already in the pot, the less value the $16 in bonus money has. You now stand to lose a great deal more than you could potentially win. It's time to let your hand go. Unless of course you know that the button is capable of light 3-betting. 
 
Q: The game is $1-2 NLHE, nine handed. You are in middle position with 7-2 offsuit and the action is folded around to you. What should you do? 
A: Fold. There is no bonus given for 7-2 offsuit, only for suited hands. It's still the worst hand in Hold'em, remember?  

 
Good luck at the tables!
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