Starting Hands

Player Types

Good link on No Limit Starting hands

Texas Holdem Starting Hands –
The first step to becoming a winning Texas holdem player is tightening up your starting hand selection. This article is aimed at beginners and provides some guidelines for Texas Holdem starting hands.

Good preflop play in Texas holdem is enough to make you a break-even player if you master it, especially if you’re an online player. A few guidelines for learning how to play on the flop will make you a profitable player, and the turn and the river become “just details”. This article is aimed at beginners and gives you something to think about as it relates to selecting which starting hands you’re actually going to play.KK

Tight Play is Good Play
The first thing you need to know is that you’re going to fold before the flop a lot, possibly even as much as 4 out of 5 times or more. (Even on the hands you’ll play, you’ll probably fold on the flop as often as 2 out of 3 times.) By starting off playing only good hands, you’ll make more money in the long run, because you’ll have an advantage toward winning all the dead money that less selective players have put in the pot.

Cold Calling Raises
You’re cold calling when you flat call when someone else has raised in front of you. 95% of the time, this is a mistake. If your hand isn’t good enough preflop to re-raise the raiser, then you should probably fold. Generally, the only hands good enough for this are premium pairs like jacks or better and AK and AQ, especially if the latter two are suited.

donkey rustyIf you’ve already limped in and someone behinds you raises, it’s often correct to call their raise though. This is not cold calling since you already have money in the pot. Same principle when you’re in a blind; since you already have money in the pot, it’s not cold calling, and it’s often the correct play.

Considering Position
In early position, you should only play strong hands, especially if there are a lot of aggressive players behind you. (Aggressive players raise a lot.) This is because you don’t have a lot of information about the cards the other players have. In middle and late position, you can get away with playing some more speculative hands because you get a better sense of what the other players’ might be holding because you get to see what kind of action they take before you have to make a decisions.

Legitimate Starting Hands
There are 169 possible starting hands in Texas holdem. Only about 50 of those hands are profitable to play, and of those, not all of them are profitable all of the time. Some of them are only profitable in big pots with lots of callers.

Pocket Pairs
Pocket pairs are often overplayed by novice holdem players. They’re a good starting hand, yes, but the higher the cards, the more powerful they become. Pocket aces and pocket kings are the strongest starting hands you can get, and you should almost always raise and/or re-raise when you have aces or kings.AA

Pocket tens, jacks, and queens are also terrific starting hands, even though they’re not the monsters that kings or aces are. You should usually raise and re-raise with these unless the pot’s already been raised more than once, in which case you might either raise or call.

Pocket seven’s, eight’s, and nine’s are considered middle pairs, and are usually pretty good hands, especially if you can get in cheap with them. If you’re in early position it’s best to limp with them, and if you’re in late position, you can raise with these hands if everyone else limped.

Pocket deuces through pocket sixes are considered small pairs, and you should play these if you can get in the pot for 1 or 2 bets, but not more than that. Your goal with these cards is to hit a set on the flop and take down a big pot. A lot of times it’s a good idea to fold small pairs, especially in the face or multiple raisers.

Suited Hands
Suited cards that total 20 or 21 in blackjack terms are usually pretty good starting hands. (You’re looking for suited hands that have an ace or king high usually.) You’ve got the possibility of making a big flush or top pair with a flush draw with these hands. They’re often worth raising with preflop, especially if you have the ace.

aceofspadesSuited cards that are adjacent in rank are speculative hands and should be player a lot like small pairs. 7-8 suited has the potential to make several kinds of straights, and the potential to make a flush. But they only become profitable if there are a lot of players and a lot of money in the pot, and you can get in cheap. And the higher the ranks of the suited cards, the better your chances are.

Another suited hand that’s worth playing is big-little suited, like Axs or Kxs. These are speculative hands, and should be played the same as small pairs or suited connectors. See a flop cheap if you can, and fold if the flop doesn’t fit your hand well.

Unsuited Hands
The only unsuited hands you should be playing that aren’t pairs are high cards with an ace or a king high and a ten or another face card. These are all speculative hands, and play best from late position, getting in cheap, and hoping you hit a good flop.

Junk Starting Handsmoney toilet
Other hands not mentioned in one of the categories above are basically junk, and should be thrown away unless you’re in a blind or you have a good bluffing situation. (Late position, no one coming in before you, and the players behind you are tight and weak.)

The Race
Think of each hand of poker as a race, and your pocket cards determine where you start. You only want to run in races where you’re ahead, and that’s why tight starting hand requirements are so important in Texas holdem.



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