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Poker is… a fascinating, wonderful, intricate adventure on the high seas of human nature.
~David A. Daniel


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PostHeaderIcon Learn how to select your starting hands

To select your starting hand is fundamentally important, but it is only one part of the poker strategy. Once you have mastered the fundamental principles of the starting hands and you have understood how they change depending on your position at the table, you should concentrate only on your game till the end of the hand. The difference between the beginners and professional players is that the professionals play much better than their opponents after they have chosen their starting hands (they know what to choose).

This is an exceptional accuracy with regard to decisions taken at the end of each hand. These professional skills include the probabilities and pot odds, the order of betting, bluffing, and using the advantages of the position. The years of practice necessary to improve your play in the middle and the end, fully justify the results, because even small improvement of skills of a player can have a tremendous effect on player’s winnings.

There are 169 different starting hands in Texas Hold’em (if you don’t take into account the suits). From all these possible hands only five belong to the “highest category”. They are as follows:

  1. A, A
  2. K, K
  3. Q, Q
  4. A, K (suited)
  5. J, J

No matter what is your position at the table, you should always play these hands if no one made a raise before you. In case somebody did, especially if there was a call or re – raise, you should play only the aces or the kings, because to play the rest of the hands will probably be a huge mistake. When you think about the starting hands in Texas Hold’em now, you realize that you should fold about 80 % of the hands and play only about 20 % of them. The stronger your starting hands, the smaller the number of difficult decisions will be. You don’t need to make your life more complicated than it is. Naturally, the hands that you play, and the way you do it will vary depending on thousands of different circumstances.

Generally, there are very few hands, which are considered suitable to enter the game. If no player has opened the game (no one before you did not raise or limp), you can play almost any hand with some potential value. But once someone made a raise, you should narrow the range of playable hands to those that can give you some nuts and won’t get under domination.

For example, you should never play K, Q, in response to a raise since A, A; K, K; Q, Q; A, K; and A, Q will dominate your hand. If you do not have very good reason to do the opposite, as a beginner in poker, you should play only the best 10 to 15 hands. The more you play and improve your skills, the more hands you can start playing. But in the beginning, do not complicate the situation and always enter the flop with one of the best possible hands.

The top 15 starting hands in Texas Hold’em are as follows:

  1. A, A;
  2. K, K;
  3. Q, Q;
  4. A, K (suited);
  5. J, J;
  6. 10, 10;
  7. A, Q (suited);
  8. A, J (suited);
  9. A, K (not suited);
  10. K, Q (suited);
  11. A, 10 (suited);
  12. K, J (suited);
  13. A, Q (not suited);
  14. 9, 9;
  15. J, Q (suited).
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