Its a strategy thats not for the faint-hearted and one that usually makes us shout at the screen when we see pro poker players raise on those nasty 9-2 hands. But Daniel Negreanu nicely lays out when its actually useful to play junk hands – showcasing Gus Hansen’s trash hand specialty
The basic principle behind playing a trash hand isn’t that you believe your hand has any value at all. It’s based on two things: You’re representing a strong hand by bluffing and you’re hoping your opponent(s) don’t have much of a hand.
Negreanu goes on to give a good Hold’em example
Everyone has folded to you in last position, and you’re dealt the worst hand in hold’em: 7-2 off-suit. Probably 98 percent of the time I’d suggest folding this junk and waiting for a better situation. Unless, of course, you know that the two players in the blinds are conservative types who operate very predictably. In this case, you can raise with any two cards — now, this is important — because you won’t be playing your hand, you’ll be playing theirs.
If you do raise, chances are the blinds will both fold. That would be the most desired result, but even if they don’t, you aren’t necessarily out of the hand.
Suppose the big blind calls your raise and the flop comes As 9c 4d. If the conservative player in the big blind doesn’t have the ace, he’ll probably check to you. Despite the fact that you have nothing at all, you should still bet on the flop. If your opponent calls the bet, or, worse, raises, then you’ll abort mission. What will happen more often than not is that he’ll fold if he doesn’t have the pair of aces.
That’s not the only way you can win the pot; you could hit the flop yourself. Sure, 7-2 is a really poor hand, and difficult to hit, but you might just get lucky and flop a pair, two pair or even three of a kind.