Why Most People Raise with High Starting Pairs in Texas Holdem Poker
Whilst poker hand rankings determine the winner of the pot, frequently two players will have the same rank of hand, for example they both have a pair. In this case the one with the higher value pair will win the pot, with a pair of tens beating a pair of sevens say. In a poker game like Texas Holdem where five-sevenths of a players hand is comprised of communal cards on the table, players will often have the same type of winning hand.
As there are so many incidences in Texas Holdem poker of similar hands contesting the pot, higher value starting pairs are much more highly prized than lower ones are, as in some hands a high pair is all that is necessary to win the pot. Many players will even value high cards that aren't a pair over low ones that are because of this fact, e.g. folding with a pair of fours but continuing to the flop with a queen and king.
Why the Flop can Change the Situation Dramatically
Of course the flop is the most significant part of the Texas Holdem hand, with the ability to transform promising starting cards into lousy ones and vice versa (Related Page: Why You Probably Won't Win in Texas Hold Em If You Get a Bad Flop). In the above example if the player held a pair of fours and the flop also contained a four, their three-of-a-kind fours would beat a pair of kings, or even a two pair of kings and queens for that matter. So even though they are much lower in value than a king or queen, those fours can be particularly useful, and is why some players will actually avoid folding if they are dealt any pair at the start, even a low value one.
Flushes, Straights and Kickers
If a player is dealt a pair at the start of the hand, with five communal cards to come in the flop, turn and river there is still the potential of making other hands such as a flush or a straight. If two or more players have this type of hand at the showdown, the winner is determined by the one who holds the highest card, for example a straight of 2-3-4-5-6 is beaten by a straight of 3-4-5-6-7. Similar to a straight, the winner is determined by the highest card of the flush. Kickers are used to decide winners of pairs and two pair contests, with the higher kicker winning the pot. Also, should nobody still left in the pot be able to even manage to muster so much as a lowly pair, the pot may come down to who holds the highest card. This is another reason why being dealt high value cards in Texas Hold Em poker at the start is more preferable to receiving low ones, even if those low ones could become three of a kind or be the vital constituents of a straight or flush.