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The Best Starting Hands in Texas Hold’em

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December 19, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

The Best Starting Hands in Texas Hold'emRegardless of a player’s style, getting off to a good start in a hand of Texas Hold’em is half of the battle.  A player is at a disadvantage if he or she draws weak hole cards and tries to plow a path to a win.  Most times a player recognizes a bad hand, but some players have a hard time identifying the best starting hands.

The best players whether live or in an online casino are always looking for an advantage.  A good starting hand is as important as his position for deciding how to bet a hand.  Knowing the best starting hands can help even a rookie player to level the playing field with the big boys.

Although many players don’t know many of the best hands, everyone recognizes the big pocket pairs:

AsAh
A-A (also known as Pocket Rockets),

KdKc
K-K (King Kong),

QhQd
and Q-Q (Ladies).

Any player that draws these pocket pairs is in a strong betting position and their opponents will need a lot of help from the dealer to beat them.  Players holding these cards will often identify themselves with a strong pre-flop bet and an even stronger continuation play.

What comes next is open for a little debate.  Most serious players will rank these cards as the next best openers:

AcKc
A-K suited (Big Slick),

AhQh
A-Q suited (Little Slick),

JdJs
and J-J (Hooks).

Even though the player with Jacks is leading out of the hole, both of the other hands have excellent odds of hitting a winner.

The seventh and eighth best hands are both suited, namely:

KsQs
K-Q

AhJh
A-J

The K-Q is considered slightly better than the A-J because both the king and queen dominate the jack.  After these, and rounding out the top ten are:

AcKd
A-K offsuit

ThTs
10-10

Again the unsuited A-K is better than the pair because of the number of cards that can be hit.

In all, there are 169 different hole card combinations possible in Texas Hold’em, and there is always some disagreement as to which are the better starters.  Once the flop has been dealt, the dynamics of the hand changes, that’s why a player with a strong starting pair needs to capitalize early.  K-Q of hearts might be considered the seventh best hand, but a player holding A-5 takes the lead if an Ace flops and no other hearts hits the board.

Playing only these strong openers is solid advice and can be a good learning tool for beginners.  Newcomers need to not only understand hand order, but they need to learn money management as well.  Betting only the top hands while learning can help accomplish both objectives.  While it is tempting to play every hand, such loose play is a losing strategy.  A rookie who starts by only playing the best starting hands and reacting appropriately post-flop will typically be more successful in the long run than someone who plays from the gut.

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