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The So-Called Coin Flip

by John Vorhaus |  Published: Apr 30, 2014


Let us consider the so-called “coin flip” confrontation of overcards versus a pocket pair in no-limit hold’em. Most players and even TV commentators call, say, 8-8 versus A-K “a coin flip.” While I’m not fussy about precise numbers — a thumbnail grab is usually as useful as exact odds to many significant figures — I think it’s misleading to imply that this is a true 50/50 proposition, and that those inclined to gamble would happily take either side of the action. In fact, the pocket pair, no matter which pocket pair, is always at least a 52-to-48 percent favorite over any two overcards. While that may be in the neighborhood of a coin flip (if you define neighborhood loosely enough), it’s not a neighborhood you’ll find profitable if you’re consistently on the wrong end of the odds. Does this mean you should always make a big move with pocket pairs, ...

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