We all know the routine: the best hands are AA, KK, QQ, AKs...

These are the hands that win the most often, but what if the metric we are interested in is not "how often you win", but the overall cash performance of the hands? Are these top hands the most productive, money-wise?

Let's take AA. Great hand to take small pots. You raise hard/all-in early. People fold and you pick up a few blinds. Once every 221 hands, you get to take 2-4 BB.

Not bad, but every once in a while, you get called by a couple opponents and the flop looks nasty. Opponents 3-bet. You re-raise. The board brings 4 spades and you don't have any. You stick to your guns and you lose your stack, or you wise up and you fold, losing a lot of chips in the process.

Win small, lose big, as the saying goes.

Of course, it would vary from player to player, but overall, I figure that some hands just play so well that they would beat the ROI of QQ+ by a wide margin for most players... except I don't which ones they are.

What are the starting hands that routinely take down the biggest pots and cause the least losses?

2 Answers 2


In comment on another question you wanted to know what worked for you. I suggest you elevate your play rather than just look at what worked.

If you are not getting paid off with AA KK then you are playing them wrong. They should have the highest return.

Don't open big and telegraph you have a big hand. Come in for a standard raise based on position. Like 2.5 BB in early to mid and 3 BB in late position. If you get raised then 3 bet. With AA you want all the money in pre flop. I will take all in with KK.

If you only open 5 BB with AA KK you are an open book and will only pick up blinds.

If you got 3 bet with AA on a wet flop you did not hit then don't re-raise. This is a time to call or fold. You are loosing big pots because you let it happen. AA is a great hand you want it all in pre flop but don't get married to the hand.

In another question you wanted to find your range by position based on hand history. You should know your range. Have a strategy. I get the impression you are playing poker by feel. Not a winning strategy.

In mid to late also open with a standard raise with like 56s and 68s. It opens up your range. If you do hit you have some money in the pot. If you don't hit then get away most of the time. Those hands will not have the payout of AA but you need to play them to get paid out with AA. Don't limp with speculative hands as you have announced your hand.

A strategy is to limp some monsters to mix up your play. That is for players at a very high level with really deep stacks.


What hands on average makes the most money? It is of course just AA, KK, QQ. They just make the most money, since they have the highest equity. True, sometimes you smash the flop with a suited connector and take down a huge pot, but most of the time you miss. On average you will be a lot better off with aces. The reason you sometimes lose a huge pot with a big overpair, is that with a big overpair you want to play big pots, and in poker sometimes you lose. Note that when playing deepstacked the relative value of some of the suited connectors go up, but are still nowhere near the value of aces. If aces didn't make the most amount of money, what hand would you rather see? KK? 87s? Surely not.

Edit: it is true that overpairs could have some reverse implied odds and suited connectors or lower pocket pair some replied odds. However this does not by far bridge the gap.

  • Equity tells us that you win more often, it doesn't take into account how much you win/lose. On a 6-men table, KK starting equity is 41%. You hit the flop with an ace, and 3 players stick around... you're behind (equilab) but a large portion of your stack is committed, and it's really hard to walk away from your cowboys. If you are a tight player, you win 1-5 BB each time you win with KK (people fold) and lose >15 BB when your KK lose, you're not breaking even on KK. Can you see how KK could end up being a non optimal starting hand? Hence my question.
    – Sylver
    Commented Jun 30, 2018 at 10:42
  • I understand. But if you play kings in a way you end up losing big blinds you are not playing good poker. If you play good poker aces and kings should make more money than any other hands.
    – Raymond
    Commented Jun 30, 2018 at 10:51
  • I think you are talking about (reverse) implied odds. I updated my answer at the bottom to address this point.
    – Raymond
    Commented Jun 30, 2018 at 10:54
  • Yes, comparing implied & reverse implied odds gets closer to what I want. I expect AA and KK to have a reasonable ROI%, but I have never seen any list ranking cards based on profitability, and I wonder whether we just take AA-AK's ROI for granted as opposed to observing actual performance. Do you know what ROI you get from your AA?
    – Sylver
    Commented Jun 30, 2018 at 12:41
  • I do not. As you said equity does not equal performance. And performance depends on the skill of the player and his strategy. There is no way of knowing general performance exactly, since this is not tracked. If you are interested in your performance specifically you should keep track somehow yourself.
    – Raymond
    Commented Jun 30, 2018 at 12:47

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