Starting Hand Selection In Texas Hold'em

Introducing Hand Selections For Texas Hold'em

A big part of being a good Texas holdem player is learning which starting hands are worth playing in certain spots. A player could start with any of the 169 two card combination, these card combination are usually categorized as follows.
Pairs: KK, 77, 22
Suited connectors: QJ, 87, 43
Connecting cards: KQ, 98, 65
Suited unconnected cards: K10, 96, 63
Unconnected cards: Q10, 97, 75
Unconnected cards are deemed weaker than connected cards since the bigger the gap between the cards are the less likely it is to hit a straight. If a player have 95 the only flopped straight possibility is the 678, but a 87 can flop 654, 965, 1096, J109.
Best Starting Hands In Texas Hold'em
Every player has their favorites hands and the hands that fit their play style in a good way. Here are the strongest holdings divided into three groups, from an objective point of view.
Tier One Of The Top Hands
AA,KK
These are the best starting hands in poker, you will in average get dealt any of these hands every 110 hands. Even though aces and kings are clearly the strongest holding you can't expect to always win these hands. Because it's very hard to fold aces or kings post flop you should definitely raise pre flop in order to get a higher chance of winning by narrowing the field. By raising pre flop you don't only get less opponents, you will also build a bigger pot which is good with a very strong hold.
Tier Two Of The Top Hands
QQ,JJ,AK
Queens and Jacks are also really strong hands, they are only in trouble versus kings or aces where they're dominated, but that's the only two hands that are stronger pre flop. You should definitely raise with queens or jacks, it's a similar spot as the aces or kings, in that it's a really strong holding but gets worse the more players that are in the pot.
Ace King suited is regarded as having similar strength as the queens or jacks. Although the player only have the ace high pre flop, there are a lot of potential in this hand. It is only in real trouble against the aces or kings and almost a coinflip against the queens or jacks. It is particularly a strong hand late in tournaments because it dominates a lot of all in hands such as AQ,AJ and A10.
Tier Three Of The Top Hands
1010, AK, AQ, AJ, KQ
These hands are also strong, but they look a bit stronger than they actually are since no descent poker player would really get into a huge pot pre flop with anything worse than this. You should definitely raise with these hands because they are still good hands and there's a lot worse hands that will call, just don't get carried away.
Suited Cards
Suited cards are a great re draw opportunity to back up a good hand. It is however not worth calling with a garbage hand just because it's suited. The reason being that the player only have a 0,8% chance of hitting that miracle flush on the flop, and about 6,5% that you hit it after the river. So bare in mind to not overplay your suited cards but that they're good to have in addition to a descent holding.
The Kicker
The kicker is the smaller of your two cards. If a player have an ace to go with a weak kicker, there might be problems on later streets. For example, if you call with A7 and the board goes AQ6, you will have a pair of aces but no clue whether it is good or not facing a raise. Another example is if you hit the kicker on the Q73 board, since any queen or higher pocket pair beats your hand it will be a hard spot to be in facing a bet. If you're not feeling comfortable playing these hands, a fold is a viable option until you learn which spots are good with the King and Ace junk hands.
Other Factors
The cards don't tell the whole story, there are other factors that are important in deciding how to play a particular hand.
Seated Players On The Table
The value of a hand is more than just about the cards. A hands value will be higher if it's only five players at the table and lower if it's ten players at the table, simply because there are five more chances that anyone have a premium hand. A hand like KJ is very playable when there are only a couple of opponents but a lot weaker versus a full table.
Position
The position on the poker table is a very important factor when deciding if a hand is worth playing. The later position you have on a table in the betting order, the better it is. The reason behind this is that you can decide what to do after you have seen the other players act, you get a feel for the players hand strengths plus that you have position on later streets which makes it possible to control the pot size or steal the pot on later streets.
Previous Action
If the pot has been raised before it's your turn to act, you should definitely consider changing your hand selection in that pot. A raise in early position usually is a pretty descent hand, also there is less value in the hand because you can't steal the blinds if you only call which is one of the reasons to raise pre flop. Furthermore, if you face a raise and a re raise you should definitely only call or raise if you have really good cards. However you should also take the players tendencies into account, whether the players are loose, passive or perhaps tilted from a previous pot.
Last Tips
Texas Hold'em is a game of patience, don't fall in the trap of playing any two cards. Playing every hand will put you in really tough spots when facing big bets.
If you're new to the game you can start by playing the better hands. With experience you can open up the range of starting hands, by then you may be able to outplay your opponent with a weaker holding.
Good luck at the tables!

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