Hutchison Texas Hold'em Point System
Various "experts" may disagree on the relative importance of different factors in becoming
a successful Texas Hold'em player, but high on everyone's list is the ability to make correct decisions
about which starting hands are worth playing.
While one can error in the direction of being too tight (i.e., playing too few hands), most observers
would agree that beginning Hold'em players are much more likely to error in the opposite direction and
play too many hands. In all poker variations, especially at the lower limits, the newcomer will pay a
higher penalty for being too loose than being too tight. Given this proclivity to play too many hands
and the unpleasant consequences of this behavior, it is probably excellent advice for the beginning
player to pay special attention to the task of identifying hands that have the best chances of winning
the money. There will come a time when other factors, such as the desire to be deceptive, the need to
"play the players," post-flop strategies, the significance of position, the importance of
"table image," etc., will need to be mastered, but these are complex and subtle issues that
are very difficult to quantify.
Fortunately for the novice, one skill that lends itself to fairly easy quantification is the question
of determining worthwhile starting hands. What follows is a very easy method of using simple math to
objectively identify winning hands.
STEP ONE: Add the value of your two cards using the scale below:
- Ace= 16 pts.
- King= 14 pts.
- Queen= 13 pts.
- Jack= 12 pts.
- Ten= 11 pts.
- all other cards are worth their face value, e.g., a two is 2 pts., a nine is 9 pts.
STEP TWO: If your two cards are paired, add 10 points to the total.
STEP THREE: If your two cards are both of the same suit, add four points.
STEP FOUR: If your cards are connected (i.e., next to each other in rank, as with a Jack and Ten, a
Jack and a Queen, etc.) add three points.
STEP FIVE: If your cards have a one card "gap" (e.g., a Queen and a Ten, a Jack and a Nine,
or an Ace and a Queen, etc.) add two points.
STEP SIX: If your cards have a two-card "gap" (e.g., an Ace and a Jack, a Queen and a Nine,
or a Jack and an Eight, etc.) add one point.
STEP SEVEN: If you are in middle position add three points, and if you are in late position or on the
button, add five points.
STEP EIGHT: Call a bet with 30 points or more, and raise or call a raise with 34 points or more.
By limiting yourself to these hands you will always be playing premium cards.
Monte-Carlo type simulations prove that any hand that earns 30 or more points under the first six
steps of this system will win at least 17% of the hands in a ten-handed game. A random hand, of course,
will win 10% of the time under Monte-Carlo conditions where every hand is played to the finish. Thus, a
30 point hand will win at a rate about 70% above chance expectations and this should provide beginning
Hold'em players a margin of safety as they progress in developing the other skills necessary for greater
success in this interesting and complex game.
Hutchison Omaha Point System
The purpose of this system is to provide a simple means of evaluating starting hands in Omaha poker.
It was developed in several steps:
First, Mike Caro's Poker Probe software was used to determine the win percentage for various four
card combinations when played against nine opponents. This was accomplished via a Monte-Carlo type
simulation with a minimum of 50,000 hands being dealt for each starting hand. The assumption made in
this type of simulation is that each hand is played to the finish. This is, of course, an unreasonable
expectation, but , in the absence of detailed knowledge of each player's starting requirements, method
of play, etc., it is the best means of approximating a hand's strength and earning potential.
Secondly, a number of components were examined in an effort to determine their relative contribution
to the value of each starting hand. Eventually, it was decided that the primary determinants of good
Omaha starting hands related to the rank of the cards and whether or not they were paired, suited, or
Finally, a type of regression analysis was conducted to try and determine the relative weighting of
each of these factors. The system that follows is the result of quantifying the contribution made by
each of these various components.
Once the calculations are made, the resultant point total, WHEN DIVIDED BY TWO, is an approximation
of the actual win percentage for a particular hand--when played to the finish against nine opponents.
The correlation between point totals and win percentages, while not representing a one-to-one
correspondence is, nevertheless, quite high. In fact, in about 70% of the cases the actual win
percentage will be within just one point of the total points awarded by this system. This means that if
the system indicates that a given hand earns, say, 40 points, you can be quite confident that the actual
win percentage for this hand is between 19 and 21 points. It is very likely to win more often than a
hand with 38 points and almost certain to outperform a hand with 36 points.
STEPS IN CALCULATING POINT TOTALS
FIRST, to evaluate the contribution made by suited cards, look to see if your hand contains two or
more cards of the same suit. If it does, award points based upon the rank of the highest card. Repeat
the procedure if your hand is double suited.
- If the highest card is an ACE award 8 points
- If the highest card is a KING award 6 points
- If the highest card is a QUEEN award 5 points
- If the highest card is a JACK award 4 points
- If the highest card is a TEN or a NINE award 3 points
- If the highest card is an EIGHT award 2 points
- If the highest card is SEVEN or below award 1 point.
- If your hand contains more than two cards of the same suit, deduct 2 points.
SECOND, to factor in the advantage of having pairs,
- If you have a pair of ACES award 18 points
- If you have a pair of KINGS award 16 points
- If you have a pair of QUEENS award 14 points
- If you have a pair of JACKS award 13 points
- If you have a pair of TENS award 12 points
- If you have a pair of NINES award 10 points
- If you have a pair of EIGHTS award 8 points
- If you have a pair of SEVENS or below award 7 points
- Award no points to any hand that contains three of the same rank.
THIRD, when your hand contains cards capable of completing a straight it becomes more valuable.
Therefore, If your cards contain no more than a three card gap, add the following points:
- For FOUR cards, add 25 points
- For THREE cards, add 18 points
- For TWO cards, add 8 points
From these totals, subtract two points for each gap, up to a maximum of six points.
To account for the special case represented by ACES, deduct four points from the above totals when an
Ace is used. This is necessary because an Ace can make fewer straights. However, when your hand contains
small cards that can be used with an Ace to make a straight, the hand's value increases. Therefore, when
your hand contains an Ace and another wheel card, add 6 points. Add 12 points for an Ace and two wheel
FINALLY, a determination must be made as to which hands qualify as playable. This becomes a function
of how many points one decides are necessary before entering a hand. My suggestion would be to only play
hands that earn 28 points or more. It can be argued that, ignoring the rake, any hand with more than a
10 percent win rate (i.e., those with 20 points or more) is potentially profitable in the long run.
Still, I have the prejudice that most players, and especially those who are relatively inexperienced,
would be better advised to forsake marginal hands and to focus on those that earn 28 points or more.
Recalling that a random hand will win about 10% of the time in a ten-handed game, it can be seen that
playing only premium combinations of 28 points or more insures that you will always have a hand that is
40% better than a random hand. The total required to raise or to call someone's raise must also be
determined subjectively. I feel that 32 points is the appropriate level, so, in summary,
YOU SHOULD CALL WITH 28 POINTS OR MORE AND CONSIDER RAISING WITH 32 POINTS OR MORE
SOME EXAMPLES FOR CLARIFICATION
The hand that has the highest win percentage in Omaha contains two ACES and two KINGS and is double
suited. A hand containing the AS, KS, AH, and KH would earn 54 points under this system--calculated as
follows: under step one above, the two double suits headed by the two aces earn 8 points each for a
total of 16 points; step two awards 18 points for the pair of aces and 16 points for the pair of kings,
or a total of 34 more points; under step three, the ace-king combination earns 4 points for its straight
potential. (NOTE: The two consecutive cards earn 8 points but a deduction of 4 points is made because
one of the cards is an Ace.) The resultant total of 54 points, when divided by two, closely parallels
the actual win percentage for the hand which is about 26.65.
Assume you have the 9S, 8S, 9D, and 8D. Step one awards a total of 6 points for the two double suits
headed by nines. Under step two, the pair of nines earns 10 points and the pair of eights earns 8
points. The last step awards 8 points for the 9-8 combination. The total of 32 points, when divided by
two, is the same as this hand's actual win rate of 16 per cent.
With the QS, QD,9H, and 9C, no points are earned under step one as there are no suited cards. Step
two gives 14 points for the pair of queens and 10 points for the pair of eights. Step three awards 8
points for the Q-9 combination but then calls for a deduction of 4 points because of the two card gap
that exists between the two cards. The final total is 28 points and, when divided by two, it again
closely reflects the actual win percentage for this hand which is 14.5%.
An example of a hand that tends to be somewhat over-rated by novice players is AS, KD, QH, and TS.
Under step one the hand receives 8 points for the suited ace and ten. Step two is disregarded as the
hand does not contain any pairs. Step three awards 23 points for the straight potential of the four
connected cards. The final total is only 31 points, making this a marginally playable hand. It actually
wins about 16.2%.
Finally, consider AS, 3S, KD, 4D. Step one awards 14 points, step two awards none, and step three
grants 12 points for the A-3-4 combination and 4 points for the A-K combination. This total of 30 points
corresponds with the actual win rate of 15%.
To state the obvious: many skills other than initial card selection are essential to maximizing your
profits when playing Omaha. Unfortunately, these other skills do not lend themselves to easy
quantification, and are thus beyond the scope of this simple mathematical approach. I do hope, though,
that this system will be of help to the novice player in making the important decision about which
starting hands are worthwhile.
Hutchison Point Count System For Omaha High-Low
The following is slightly modified from an article of mine that appeared in the December, 1997 issue
of the Canadian Poker Monthly. I want to acknowledge with appreciation the contributions of Nolan
Dalla, Dave Scharf, and others to this effort to quantify starting hands in Omaha Hi-Lo Poker (Eight or
ASSUMPTIONS: A ten-handed game at the lower levels with a mix of good and poor players.
OBJECTIVE: To identify those hands that have at least a 50% above chance expectation of winning. That
is, while any random hand should win about 10% of the pots in a ten-handed game, the hands identified as
"playable" by this system have at least a 15% probability of winning.
METHOD: In any split pot game the best hands are those that have a chance to win both high and low.
Most of the hands without this potential should be discarded. However, there are a few hands that are
profitable even though they have no potential to win low.
The first step in evaluating your hand is to see if it is one of these HIGH-ONLY hands. To qualify,
all four of your cards must be Ten or above AND include (1) two pair, or (2) a pair and two suited
cards, or (3) two double suits. Eliminate any high hand containing three of the same rank. If your hand
does not qualify as a HIGH hand, then...
The next step is to see if your hand can be played as a LOW or TWO-WAY hand. This determination is
made by adding the number of points obtained in these four simple steps:
FIRST, look at your two lowest cards and award points as follows:
- A-2 equals 20 pts.
- A-3 equals 17 pts.
- A-4 equals 13 pts.
- A-5 equals 10 pts.
- 2-3 equals 15 pts.
- 2-4 equals 12 pts.
- 3-4 equals 11 pts.
- 4-5 equals 8 pts.
- Anything else = no pts.
SECOND, look at your two remaining cards ("kickers") and award points as follows:
- 3 equals 9 pts.
- 4 equals 6 pts.
- 5 equals 4 pts.
- Jack, Queen, or King equals 2 pts.
- 6 or Ten equals 1 point
- Do not award any "kicker" pts. for a card that duplicates a card used in step one and if
the kicker is paired it is counted only once under this step.
THIRD, if you have any pairs, add points as follows:
- Aces equal 8 pts.
- Kings equal 6 pts.
- Queens equal 5 pts.
- Jacks equal 2 pts.
- Tens equal one point
- Fours equal one point
- Threes equal one point
- Deuces equal 3 pts.
- Deduct half of the points awarded under this step if you have three cards of the same rank.
FOURTH, if you hold two suited cards and the highest of them is:
- an Ace, add 4 pts.
- a King, add 3 pts.
- a Queen or Jack, add 2 pts.
- an 8, 9, or Ten, one pt.
- Deduct half of the points awarded under this step if your hand contains three cards of the same
suit and award no points if all of the cards are of the same suit.
EACH HAND WILL EARN A TOTAL FROM 0 TO 45 POINTS. PLAY THOSE HANDS WITH 20 POINTS OR MORE AND CONSIDER
RAISING WITH 30 POINTS OR MORE.
EXAMPLES FOR CLARIFICATION
You are dealt AS, 3S, 5H, KD. Since not all four cards are above Ten, the hand is evaluated as a low
or two-way hand by following the four steps outlined above. Step one awards 17 pts. for the A-3, step
two grants six pts. for the 5 and K "kickers," step three does not apply, and step four gives
four pts. for the two suited cards (spades) headed by the Ace. The total equals 27 pts. making this a
You are dealt AS, AC, 2S,3C. The hand does not qualify for high. Step one awards 20 pts. for the A-2,
step two gives nine pts. for the 3 "kicker," step three grants eight pts. for the pair of
Aces, and step four means that each double-suited combination headed by an Ace is worth four pts. each
or a total of eight pts. for the two combinations. The grand total for this hand is 45 points.
Incidentally, this is the most powerful hand in high-low Omaha.
You are dealt AS, TS, AC, QD. This hand qualifies for high because it satisfies the condition that 1)
all four cards are Ten or above, and 2) two of the cards are paired and two are of the same suit.
You are dealt AS, TS, KD, QD. This hand qualifies for high because 1) all four cards are Ten or
above, and 2) it contains two double suits.
A very high correlation (but not a one-to-one correspondence) exists between a hand's point count and
its winning percentage. Thus, a hand that earns 25 pts. is quite likely to have a higher win percentage
than a hand with 24 pts. and it is almost certain to have a higher percentage than a hand with 23 or
It should be noted that initial card selection, while crucial to success, is not the only skill
necessary to maximize Omaha profits. These other skills, however, do not lend themselves to easy
quantification and are beyond the scope of this simple mathematical approach. Recall, too, the basic
assumption that this system is being used at the lower limits. I hope that these limitations will not
detract from the main purpose of this approach which is to provide a simple aid to the beginner.
All systems have been devised by Edward Hutchison.