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Pokerteam articles 24

Texas Holdem Poker Starting Hands

Texas holdem poker is a complicated game to say the least. The mathematical and psychological that the professional levels of poker require are extraordinary. But where should the novice poker player start? The answer to this question is quite easy. Presuming that you already know the basic Texas Hold'em rules the first thing any player should know is which Texas Holdem starting hands are playable and which not. You should start reading the rest of our Texas Hold'em poker articles only after you have learned and preferably memorized the list of good texas holdem starting hands. The difference between a good poker starting hand and to bad texas holdem hands is quite simple - good starting hands gives you more chances to form a strong poker hand with a high potential to win. A bad starting hand is more likely to result in nothing but lost money on calling the blinds.

The analysis required to determine which texas Holdem starting hands will payout more on the long run is quite hard. The first version of the list we present you below has appeared in the arguably best poker book ever written "Texas Hold'em for Advanced Players" by David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth. The Texas Hold'em starting hands that appeared in that monumental book were chosen and arranged by David Sklansky over a long period of time and using his vast understanding of the poker theory. Although that list is without a doubt and excellent resource there were some statistical deviations that could not be discovered without an extensive computer analysis. The list below is the exact list that some of the leading poker programs use to advice their users on their next moves. It is slightly different than the original Sklansky groupings and presents the definitive grouping of the best Texas Hold'em starting hands.

  • Group 1: AA, KK, AKs
  • Group 2: QQ, JJ, AK, AQs, AJs, KQs
  • Group 3: TT, AQ, ATs, KJs, QJs, JTs
  • Group 4: 99, 88, AJ, AT, KQ, KTs, QTs, J9s, T9s, 98s
  • Group 5: 77, 66, A9s, A5s-A2s, K9s, KJ, KT, QJ, QT, Q9s, JT, QJ, T8s, 97s, 87s, 76s, 65s
  • Group 6: 55, 44, 33, 22, K9, J9, 86s
  • Group 7: T9, 98, 85s
  • Group 8: Q9, J8, T8, 87, 76, 65
  • Group 30: A9s-A6s, A8-A2, K8-K2, K8-K2s, J8s, J7s, T7, 96s, 75s, 74s, 64s, 54s, 53s, 43s, 42s, 32s, 32

As you can see the list is quite descriptive and puts strong emphasis on connecting and suited hands. Although learning how to play these starting hands correctly is much more complex than just knowing which hands not to play there are certainly some easy general guidelines. First of all, the hands in the two first groups should usually be raised from almost any position. The hands in groups 1 to 4 and sometimes even 5 should usually just call and the hands in groups 6 to 8 should be played with extreme caution and only in very loose and passive games. Group 30 represents hands that have very little chance of winning and usually serve only for diversity and bluffing in order to throw off your opponents. Of course this should be done very rarely and even not all in the low limit games.

Daniel Jenkins, Editorial Staff


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