Preflop Hand Selection: The Hutchison System

One of the biggest mistakes new players make is that they play too many hands. Without the experience and knowledge of your opponent’s game, a loose playing style will more likely lead to going broke. The Hutchison System, created by Edward Hutchison, was designed by mathematically rating each starting hand based on their value, their relation to each other (i.e. suited, connecting or paired) and your position. By comparing that value on a simple chart, you’ll have a better idea how to play the hand depending on your position.

Step 1:

Assign a value to each of your starting cards as follows:

  • A:16
  • K:14
  • Q:13
  • J:12
  • 10:11
  • 9-2:face value

Step 2:

  • Add 10 points if your cards are paired
  • Add 4 points if your cards are the same suits
  • Add 3 points if your cards are connected (e.g.: 10 and J or 5 and 6)
  • Add 2 points if your cards have a one card gap (e.g.: 7 and 9)
  • Add 1 point if your cards have a two card gap (e.g.: 8 and J )
  • Add 5 points if you are in late position
  • Add 3 points if you are in middle position

Step 3:

  • If the total combined value is less than 30, fold your hand
  • If the total combined value is 30-33, you may call a bet but fold to a re-raise
  • If the total combined is 34 or more, then you can raise or call any re-raise


Hole cards: [10S] and [JS], Position: middle
11 (card value) + 12 (card value) + 4 (suited) + 3 (connected) + 3 (middle position) = 33

Result: Call a bet but fold to a re-raise
Hole cards: [KC] and [KD], Position: early

14 (card value) + 14 (card value) + 10 (paired) = 38
Result: Raise or call a re-raise

Hole cards: [6S] and [8S], Position: late
6 (card value) + 8 (card value) + 4 (suited) + 2 (one gap) + 5 (position) = 20

Result: Fold

It’s important to note that it is not a perfect system as it is rather strict. This also means that it’s much easier for a good player to put you on a hand since the system is predictable. It also limits your hands as low pairs and low suited connectors are never played. Lastly, the system is based on at least nine players at the table and that won’t always be the case. However, if you’re new to the game, it serves as an excellent beginner’s guide as it will help you get a better sense of the strength of your starting hands and how to play them.

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