What is a ‘Garbage Hand’?
A garbage hand is a hand of cards which has little or no chance of winning the game. Garbage hands usually consist of a series of mismatched suits and values, with little to work with even at the draw or the flop. The term might also be applied to hands which do make a set, but of such low value that it is unlikely to win – for example, a pair of twos. The term is usually associated with poker, but it is sometimes borrowed by blackjack players.
‘Garbage Hand’ Explained
If a poker player refers to holding a ‘garbage hand’, they mean a hand that has very little value and does not create much chance to win the game. The name comes from the tendency of players who are dealt ‘garbage hands’ to discard them and sit out the round. Any bad hand can be called a garbage hand, though the name is more specifically applied to starting two card hands that look unlikely to improve. The dreaded 2-7 combination, for example, is a ‘garbage hand’ that most players would fold on.
As the phrase usually means a bad two-card start, the phrase is most associated with stud and Hold’Em poker games. However, it can also mean a five card hand which contains little chance of making a set, flush or straight. A set of five cards valued 2-4-7-J-K where all four suits appear makes it very unlikely the player will find the winning ‘outs’ at the draw or the flop – when a garbage hand is dealt, it is usually better to fold and take the ante loss than to play on and hope for improvement.
While the term is most associated with poker, it is sometimes heard in other card games to describe a particularly bad deal. A blackjack player who draws 2-3 to start and finds low cards after this might complain of a ‘garbage hand’ that lost them their bet.