One of the first and most important things to learn when playing Texas Hold'em is which starting hands are worth staying in with -- and which you should fold. Deciding whether or not those two down cards you're first dealt are playable is the most important decision in every hand because while you have to be in it to win it, you also can't lose money you haven't bet.
Since the two hole or pocket cards are the only things that will make your hand better or worse than any other players, it's important that they are good strong cards.
If you're new to Hold'em, begin by learning these two lists:
And play only the cards in the 10 best list and always fold the hands in the worst hands list. Doing this alone will improve your results.
But to really succeed as a good Hold'em player, you need to vary your starting hand selection standards depending on your poker position. Read more about understanding poker position if it's a new concept to you. It's important because you need to tighten up your standards in early position (such as the blinds) and can loosen up your standards in late postion (such as sitting on the button).
And play only the cards in the 10 best list and always fold the hands in the worst hands list. Doing this alone will improve your results. But to really succeed as a good Hold'em player, you need to vary your starting hand selection standards depending on your poker position. Read more about understanding poker position if it's a new concept to. Hand selection is arguably the biggest element involved in pre-flop play. No matter how perfect your strategy might be, nothing will matter if you don’t know which hands to play in which spots. Hand selection is also one of the most diverse yet extremely easy to understand strategy topics in all of poker. Hand selection changes with the style of players at the table or the stage of the tournament you're playing, as well as the number of players at the table. But being disciplined with your starting hands is the key to making profits early on in your career. In Texas Hold’em, there are 169 unique combinations of preflop starting hands you can be dealt. This number is arrived at by grouping holdings into pairs, suited cards and offsuit cards, and considering that preflop specific suits (e.g. Hearts vs diamonds) don’t yet have value.
Here's a quick guide to what Hold'em starting hands to play in different positions:
In early position, only play:
- High Pairs: Ace-Ace, King-King, Queen-Queen, Jack-Jack
- High Suited Cards: Ace-King, Ace-Queen, King-Queen, Ace-Jack, King-Jack, Queen-Jack, Jack-10
- High Unsuited Cards: Ace-King, Ace-Queen, King-Queen
Poker Starting Hand Selection
In middle position, you can also play:
- High Suited Cards: Ace-10, King-10, Queen-10
- High Unsuited Cards: Ace-Jack, Ace-10, King-Jack, etc.
- Middle Pairs: 10-10, 9-9, 8-8
Poker Hand Selection Chart
In late position you can add:
Razz Poker Hand Selection
- Suited connectors, such as 9-10, 7-8, etc.
- Small pairs all the way down to 2s
- Ace-littles: A-8, A-6
Poker Strategy Hand Range Selection
Now, this is not an absolute guide. Just because I say you can play ace-little in late position, that doesn't mean you always should. Almost none of the hands that I added for a middle or late position should be played if there is a large raise before you get to act, and definitely should be tossed if there are two raises in front of you. The reason the hands are more playable in later positions is precise because you'll have more information about what the other players are going to do, and if everyone's just calling or folding, there's a better chance that one of the second-best hands above is the best hand at the table.
All that said, this is a rough guide, and it also helps to be able to read the most basic of poker tells and pay attention to the other players playing styles (are they tight? loose? etc.) so you can guess what hands you might be up against. Still, if you stick to this what-to-hold and what-to-fold guide, your poker profits should grow.