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  • Texas Hold'em - Which Starting Hands To Play

    texas hold'em handsStarting hand selection in Texas Hold’em is the most critical lesson a player will learn on their quest to profitability. Although it may seem as if any two-card combination is capable of winning (and they certainly are) time and again it is the high ranking premium hands that consistently win the most money. The reason behind this is because the higher ranking a hand has, the better chance it has of winning when no help arrives on the board. This article will cover critical hand selection topics and strategies for Texas Hold’em. You will see a lot of loose aggressive players (LAG) during the Texas Hold'em rotation in mixed poker variants like 8-Game Mix and 7-Game mix. This is mainly because the players that are drawn to difficult mixed games like these are stronger in the Omaha and Stud poker variants, especially Stud. This fact makes hand selection during the Hold'em rotation even more important.

    Texas Hold'em Articles:

    The Six Best Hands In Texas Holdem

    These following six hands are the best starting hands in the game. They usually are playable from any position and warrant aggressive betting and raising:

    • AA
    • KK
    • AK suited
    • QQ
    • JJ
    • AK

    There is no debate as to whether or not AA or KK are the two best hands in the game. How the rest of the big six hands are ranked is open to debate, but that’s really not important. The important part is to recognize that these are the hands to look for in Texas Hold’em and they will win you the most money. Although these hands play well in both heads up and multi-way situations, it is usually always best to raise and re-raise pre flop with these hands to either thin the field or build a bigger pot. AK suited plays well against many opponents and will take down huge pots if a flush hits. Again, play these hands from any position with the exception of JJ in early position if you feel a strong opponent who has yet to act holds a stronger pair.

    Other Starting Hands And Important Concepts In Texas Holdem

    The most important points to consider when selecting a starting hand are as follows in their order of importance:

    1. High rank
    2. Suited
    3. Connected

    High rank is critically important because it provides the best chance to win unimproved and because you simply are increasing your chances of beating opponents with sub par holdings. Having a suited hand is also important because you then have the opportunity to take down a pot with a flush. Although you should not depend on this suited characteristic, it certainly will pay off. Having a connected hand is also important because it increases your straight possibilities, again though; see this as a bonus, not the defining characteristic. With those points in mind, here are some other good hands, listed by position:

    Early position: In tight games, stick to the six best hands and maybe add AQ suited or not, TT or KQ suited when you sense weakness or to change up your play.

    Middle position: Most pairs down to sixes play well from middle position but watch out for early position raises from good players. AQ suited or not, AJ suited or not, KQ suited or not, KJ suited, JT suited and AT suited are all possibilities from middle position. Raising with these hands is usually a good idea.

    Late position: Add all pairs but generally look to play the low pairs only when three or more players are going to contest the pot. Add gapped high rank connectors such as QT suited, KT suited, KJ, J9 suited, T9 suited and some suited connectors down to 45 or 67. You can play any of these hands unsuited, but be certain you aren’t being dominated by early or middle position players with superior holdings and make sure the pot warrants your speculative hands. You may lastly add AX suited hands when you are in late position.