Best Texas Holdem Starting Hands

Texas-HoldemWhen playing Texas hold’em some starting hands should almost never played while others should almost always be played it’s simply a question of how much you should bet or raise. There are a few things to consider such as your position, the flow of the game, players who are involved in the pot, the types of players still left to act, the current size of the pot, and likely future size of the pot (implied odds) can all change whether you should play a hand or not play it. It’s definitely much more important to work on adjusting to each situation by it’s own merits than to form some basic starting hand strategy.

AA-QQ – These are the three best possible starting hands. You will basically always play them and be looking to get your stack in the middle especially in shorthanded games where players are playing with wider ranges. If it is a really loose game you’re playing in then you should try to narrow down the field of players, as your equity is significantly reduced the more callers you have. If you are in a really tight game, then you might want to sometimes play it really aggressive and sometimes play it slow to be deceptive, although more often than not you will want to fast play the hand and start building a pot.

AK-AQ – These are very good starting hands in Texas hold’em. You are hoping to flop top pair, and there is a decent chance of still having the best hand unimproved at showdown in a heads-up pot. A lot of the times you will miss the flop completely since you will be hitting a pair only ⅓ of the time. You should sometimes check and sometimes bet it really depends on what you expect your opponent(s) to do. If there is a good chance that you can steal the pot when you miss, you will want to bet a lot of the times. If the pot is big and you are pretty sure that your hand will be good if you improve then you might want to consider a call on the flop, often times you can outplay your opponents on future positions when you have position in the hand, although consider that you still have showdown value.

JJ-99 – These medium pocket pairs can easily be overplayed. They should be played cautiously. There is more possible starting hands that have you beat already or are not too far behind and you’ll have to be a little more careful by raising and thinning out the field and by getting away from the obvious times you are beat.

88-22 – The smaller your pocket pair, the more likely it is that bigger cards will come on the flop, and you will not know where you are at. Hence, you’re mostly looking to set mine with small pairs, and if you don’t hit a set, you can easily get away from the hand.

You might from time to time want to play a few other starting hands such as KT, QJ, and T9 under the right circumstances. These kinds of speculative hands are better played with really good position and you want to play them in multiway pots where you don’t expect to be facing re-raises pre-flop.

When playing in family pots it becomes a lot more likely that you will get paid off when you flop a huge hand like 2 pair or a straight. A common mistake that novice hold’em players make when playing these hands is they will overplay their hands when they only flop top pair.

You really don’t ever want to play junk hands like 43 suited or 95 etc. These less than premium starting hands in Texas hold’em can have you in bad shape after the flop when you have connected with it in some way. Folding is an important aspect of playing winning poker and it’s important to try to learn to identify when you are behind and have the discipline to fold.