Dominated Hands in Texas Holdem
Domination is a Key Concept in Texas Holdem
A hand is dominated by another hand if there are three or fewer cards that improve the dominated hand enough to beat the hand that is dominating. Interestingly--when the dominated hand does hit one of those outs they usually switch places and become the dominating hand (as the previously best hand now has 3 or fewer outs to beat the new best hand.
Now a King Four is not automatically a dominated hand, it's just what we'd call a good start to having one. If your opponent has:
You have them dominated with this sad holding. However in a full table chances are that your King Four will be dominated preflop by a king with a better kicker and this is the kind of hand where you will want to continue when you hit a pair beyond the flop, and will usually be enticed to surrender at least one bet, and often enough to see a showdown, only to find out you had the second, third, or fourth best hand. For example if you get this flop:
How will you possibly dump your K2 hand before a showdown? A more recognizable version of this can be seen here:
This hand is affectionately called "Ace Rag" and includes pretty much everything from A8 down. It is extremely common for new holdem players to play any hand that has an ace in it (and this habit sometimes stays with them forever). Why? Because when you hit your ace there is at least a decent chance you will win the pot, and winning pots feels good... even though, in the long run, you will lose money.
The problem is that when you play an ace with a bad kicker you will usually either win a small pot or lose a larger pot. Most people will pay off their hand all the way to the river even against a full table of people where one or more of your opponents is clearly telling you that they have a better hand.
When you do play this hand it is often better to hit your kicker than to hit the ace, as it gives you some outs where your opponent is the one that will feel compelled to see the showdown with the second best hand. This is especially true if you are at a table where people with overcards will often call the flop bet after missing even if they are up against eight other players!
Dominated Hands Leak Chips
Another Ace Rag hand, but this time it is slightly better even though it has a lower kicker (note that this is true vs a full table even though it wouldn't be true against a single opponent)
Surprisinly it's slightly better because it makes up for its lack of "power" with the seven with the ability for both cards to participate in a straight, even though any straight that an Ace-Rag hand can participate in will not be the nut straight. For example if the flop is 2 3 5 to give your A 4 a wheel then the nut straight will be someone holding 64. Still any straight is very often good enough to win the pot and straights and flushes are usually paid off by one pair, two pair and trip hands.