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Wooden Hand

What is a ‘Wooden Hand’?

A ‘wooden hand’ is a casino game hand that cannot be improved and which has no chance at the pot. It often applies when the hand is still in play, despite the play being futile. Not only can a wooden hand not win in its current state, but even at the draw or the river, it will come up short against the other hands at the table. The term can apply when a hand is the worst at the table, and also when it contains nothing which would count for the win.

‘Wooden Hand’ Explained

If a poker player says that they have a ‘wooden hand’, they mean that their hand is useless and cannot win, even if it were improved. It also applies to a hand that cannot be improved to make a winning one. The term comes from ‘deadwood’, which is cards to be discarded or cards that serve no benefit to the hand. A hand will be described as wooden if it is the beaten hand in the game, although this is not always apparent until the end of the round when the cards are shown. Therefore, a player might be able to win on a wooden hand through clever betting and bluffing.

A good example of a wooden hand comes from ‘jacks or better’ when played at a table. Players in this style of game need a jack pair or higher to qualify for a win. If the player holds 2-5-7-7-9 and the other players hold all the picture cards in the pack plus the sevens already, there is no chance to better the hand. As well as the pair falling too low to qualify, there is little chance for the straight to be made. It is always best to fold a wooden hand.