10 Tough Poker Hands (With Answers!)

Some poker hands are easy, and you know exactly what to do with them. But there are some hard poker hands that can make or break your winrate. To help you practice your poker skills, I created this 10 hand poker quiz that tests your ability to estimate what your opponents are playing AND what line you should take in some common preflop situations.

If you’ve already taken the quiz, fire up the playlist and enjoy. There are synopsis descriptions plus quick links down below if you want to dig a bit deeper. If you have yet to take the quiz, click this button and spend a few minutes – then compare your answers to mine (and over 2,321 other poker players!) to see how your playbook stacks up. Good luck!

Click the icon in the upper-left hand corner to jump to different videos within the playlist

#1 - SQUEEZE OR FOLD ACE-4

A TAG open-raises to $20 from EP2. We begin by breaking down the TAG’s open-raising range and notice the median answer is a 10% range while the average answer is 13%. After dissecting the average answer, I compare it against the range I would personally assign, which looks a little something like 22+/AJ+/KQ.

After assigning the range, we discuss line creation (and why flatting is NOT a great option) with A4s and begin to see why this is a much better “squeeze or fold” opportunity.

NEXT STEP: Download & use my squeeze calculator

#2 - 4BET WITH QUEENS?

We open-raise to $20 with QQ, a fishy player on the button calls, and a LAG in the big blind squeezes to $100. While assigning precise squeeze, let alone 3bet, ranges can be tricky – understanding range width and shape can help you find extra 4bets, flats, and even folds. The average range assigned here was 19%, but I explain why a more tempered depolarized range is likely being 3bet here…

Then we discuss the best play with pocket Queens. 4betting and flatting are both viable options, but flatting likely creates a more profitable situation, even though we will have to combat with an overcard on the flop roughly 1/3 of the time.

NEXT STEP: Visualize 3-Bet Ranges Properly

#3 - LIMP OR ATTACK WITH KING-TEN

A weak/passive player open-limps in middle position, and we begin by building this limping range. While strong players avoid open-limping, weak players tend to do this one of two ways: limp weak hands along with strong hands, or they raise their strongest hands and limp the rest of their “playable” hands. I break down the range I would assign, even though it’s considerably tighter than the average range assigned…

Then we choose a play with KTo in the hi-jack. 61% of players wanted to raise, and 28% of players wanted to fold. FOLD!? Let’s break this down.

NEXT STEP: The Value Of Raising Limpers (PODCAST)

#4 - RAISE OR LIMP WITH POCKET EIGHTS

A player limps in early position, and then a TAG limps behind? Something smells fishy, but we have to decide how strong (or likely weak) this range really is. We take the time to build out a 20% range of hands, discuss where the strong hands likely go, and show how many weak hands we need to include to expand the range wide enough.

Next, we choose our line with 88 on the button. Should we limp-behind, or just raise here? 22% of players wanted to limp this, but I personally think that’s incredibly weak…

NEXT STEP: The Live Poker Player’s Workbook

#5 - CALL OR 4BET WITH ACE-KING

We open-raise from middle position and a TAG in the cutoff 3bets us. Starting with their range, we begin by estimating the range width (how often they would 3bet) and then their range shape (which hands they would fill that width with). We notice this range never goes absurdly nitty but is likely not as loose as many players wish it were…

After it folds back to us, we have a big decision to make with Ace-King. Should we 4bet, call, or fold? A discussion about 4betting with ~200bb stack depth ensues, along with why folding AK against a 3bet is likely an awful idea.

NEXT STEP: The Ace King Playbook

#6 - CALL OR 3BET WITH ACE-JACK

A LAG opens from middle position and we aim to put him on a range. The average range was nearly 25% of hands, but my assessment comes in a bit tighter at 20%. At the end of the day, this is really about how many Ace-X suited and suited gapper hands likely get raised from this position.

Once it folds to us on the button, we have to decide if we want to play Ace-Jack suited. 67% of players said they would 3bet, 33% said they would call, but which one is correct? The player in the big blind is actually the determining factor!

NEXT STEP: Hand Reading In 3Bet Pots

#7 - POCKET KINGS VS. SQUEEZE

An early position LAG opens, 2 unknowns call, and a TAG in the small blind squeezes to $140. Like the other re-raise ranges, we need to quickly determine width and shape. When building this range, a quick tip is to think about the ‘cusp’ hands and if they would flat or 3bet hands like TT, 99, and AQ. If they would flat those hands, then their squeezing range is either narrow or quickly increases in bluff-density…

We end up looking down at KK in the big blind and need to make a decision. 60% of players said they would 4bet, and 30% said they would just mash ~200bb in right now…but which line should we take here?

NEXT STEP: 4 Poker Math Concepts You NEED To Know

#8 - FOLDING ACE-JACK?

A NIT opens from under-the-gun and we quickly build this range. While the average answer was close to a 10% range, my personal answer was a bit tighter at roughly 7%. The big differences creep up when we consider if nits will open all pocket pairs from UTG, and how they are likely going to treat AJ and KQ.

Next, we need to decide which line we would take with AJo. Most players actually wanted to fold here, and I’m inclined to agree…but maybe not for the reasons you’d suspect.

NEXT STEP: How To Beat Nits In Poker

#9 - PLAY A SMALL SUITED CONNECTOR?

A fishy player opens from early position and while the average person assigned a 28% range of hands here, my person assessment is a bit tighter at roughly 25%. This is largely due to getting rid of many cusp hands around A6s, smaller suited gappers, and stronger unsuited combos. But of course, this can vary QUICKLY by position and with any information.

When it folds to us in middle position holding 43s, we need to decide what to do with a small suited connector. We discuss the value of playing this drawing hand, and when 3betting it could be more appropriate.

NEXT STEP: Are You Folding Too Much?

#10 - A TOUGH SPOT WITH POCKET TENS

An unknown player opens to $15, a TAG in the cutoff calls, and the nit on the button squeezes to $75. While the average quiz-taker assigned a range around 5%, my personal answer is even tighter since this player is a nit and nits aren’t well-known for squeezing that aggressively.

However, the range you assign could easily have you looking at our pocket Tens in the big blind differently. If you assigned a wide range, folding seems ludicrous. But if you assigned a tight range, like I did, doing anything other than folding looks to be a losing proposition.

NEXT STEP: Why Nits Are Losing Players

THE BIG TAKEAWAYS

After going through all of this data, there are a few major takeaways:

#1 The average range was wider than what I would assign.

Disagreeing on ranges is typical, and having small quibbles about cusps is standard – but notice that the ranges I assigned were typically 20-25% tighter than the ones assigned by the average player. To me, this means that players are over-estimating preflop ranges, which makes sense why players wanted to continue more and fold less.

#2 The average player folded in the wrong spots.

It may seem silly, but knowing when to fold is a huge preflop skill. Getting away from bad situations and focusing on +EV setups is crucial. Notice how few people wanted to fold TT, how many people wanted to play 43s, but yet how many people wanted to fold KTo. If you struggled with these preflop lines, I would suggest checking out CORE from Red Chip Poker and spending some time in the Preflop Courses.

#3 Confidence dropped as ranges expanded.

Notice how much confidence there was when building a nit’s or TAG’s opening range? Notice how wide the answers spread when LAG 3bet? This isn’t shocking, but the only people that filled this quiz out are players who study poker at least a little – so imagine how confounded non-studiers are at the table!

WHAT'S NEXT?

If you liked this kind of exercise and analysis, here are 3 things you can do to continue improving your poker strategy piece-by-piece:

This 15-question quiz looks at more preflop poker hands and does a similar level of analysis. Only instead of getting into the nitty-gritty of hand reading and range building, this quiz only looks at your preflop plays and compares them against 5,591 other players. These spots range from simple setmines to 3bets, and ensure that your preflop strategy is on the right track.

Building ranges is something you get stronger with the more you practice. I’ve spent hundreds of hours refining my hand reading skills, and it makes all the difference when making plays in real-time. My hand-crafted workbooks layout the same off-table practice that I do so you can improve your skills at your own pace. Try just 1 exercise per day and see how much stronger your range building skills are in a month…

If this process seemed super confusing, I’d like to invite you to sign up for The Hand Reading Lab. This course takes you step-by-step through the hand reading and range building process. You’ll learn not only how to assign ranges with extra precision preflop, but also how to discern value, bluffs, and draws postflop. This skillset is mandatory, and once you are beyond the basics of poker, hand reading is the next frontier where edges are won or lost in each session.