A Poker Guide to Starting Hands

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A Poker Guide to Starting Hands

You need to learn how to approach the game in the most logical way to become an expert poker player. To see every hand you play as a journey is one of the best ways to do this. Each move you make is basically like a new step. If you can think this way of poker, it’s better in every case to make the right gestures.

Here’s a guide to starting hands in the most popular poker game, Texas Hold’em, if you’re looking to start as you plan to go on.

The Beginning of the Starting Hand

In a nutshell, Texas Hold’em poker’s starting hand consists of two hole cards from a standard 52-card deck. There are 169 possible starting hands due to this equation, which can be further broken down into 1,326 possible combinations while contemplating each different suit.

Since at the beginning of a new betting round there are so many options, you need to decide whether to fold, call or lift (or re-raise) with your starting hand based on the following variables:

• Hand Quality – Note that the ratings of starting hands are always subjective. Just because the map says A-J is a good hand to lift, this is only accurate if it’s not too rough before you (and possibly after you). As a general rule, the following mantra should be used: “if raising is not good enough, it is not good enough to call with.”

• Table Position – The position at the table will change the hands you will play drastically. Generally speaking, the closest you are to the button (the most favorable position on the table since you can still act last after the flop), the worse your hand may be. For instance, you’d fold A-T in first position in a full ring game (nine players), but you’d raise it from the button assuming there wasn’t much action before you.

• Stack Size – The size of your stack will decide if a hand is worth playing, much like the table position. The amount of post-flop play you have is reduced when you have a small stack, so you need to have a much larger pre-flop range (i.e. play better hands). By contrast, if you have more chips, you have more options in your hand later on, which means you can be a little more liberal with your selection of starting hands.

Setting Your Starting Hand

Until providing the meaning to the above parameters, let’s look quickly at the hands you would play from certain positions if you were in a vacuum at a table of nine hands (i.e. you are alone in isolation):

First Position

  • Raise with: A-A, K-K, A-Ks, Q-Q, A-K, J-J, A-Qs, A-Qo, or A-Js
  • Call with: no hands

Early Position (seats 2-4)

  • Raise with same hands as above, plus: 10-10, A-J, K-Qs
  • Call with: K-Qs

Middle Position (seats 5-7)

  • Raise with same hands as above, plus: K-Qo, K-Js, Q-Js
  • Call with: A-10s, A-10o, K-Jo, Q-Jo, K-10s, 9-9, 8-8

Late Position (seats 8-9)

  • Raise with same hands as above, plus: A-10s, K-10s, K-Jo, Q-Jo, 9-9, 8-8
  • Call with: 77, 6-6, 5-5, Q-10s, Q-10o, K-10o, J-10s, J-10o, J-9s

All things being equal, the above list of options should be used to guide your play. Let’s say, however, that you’re in first place with a short stack behind you and an attacking player.

Because of what has been said in the previous section, eliminating A-Js and A-Qo from your elevation scope would make sense. Even though they are still good players, when you’re out of range, they aren’t the ones that will play well against a boost.

Basically, you always have to move first when you’re out of place, and that means you never know exactly what your adversary will do. Therefore, because they will have the upper hand later on, with your rises you need to be more cautious, meaning something like A-Js will be excluded from your scope.

Playing the Perfect Hand

Until committing to a bowl, perform the following steps to make things as simple as possible: review the starting hand diagram mentioned above.

Consider your table position and the size of your row.

Ask yourself the following question: “I am in a strong overall position?” If the answer is “yes,” with each proposed hand you should be more likely to lift or re-raise.


If the reaction is “no,” the opening range should be more moderate.
Until committing to a bowl, perform the following steps to make things as simple as possible:

    1. Review the starting hand diagram mentioned above.
    2. Consider your table position and the size of your row.
    3. Ask yourself the following question: “I am in a strong overall position?” If the answer is “yes,” with each proposed hand you should be more likely to lift or re-raise.
    4. If the reaction is “no,” the opening range should be more moderate.

For poker, when it comes to starting hands, there are no hard and fast rules. When you take the advice given here, though, you will find that you are making fewer mistakes at the table and having many more successful trips through the Texas Hold’em Poker world.

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