Poker Strategy 1 : Play Fewer Hands
In Texas Hold’em, there are 169 different possible starting hands you can be dealt (this is ignoring specific suits).
Out of all these possible hands, there are only five hands that are considered “premium.”
- AK (Suited)
Regardless of your position at the table, a premium hand should always be played if there is no raise ahead of you. If there is a raise ahead of you – especially if there are callers or re-raises – sometimes it can even be a mistake to play anything below Aces or Kings.
When you think about Texas Hold’em starting hands in this light, you’ll realize that you should be folding around 80% more hands than you should be playing at any given Hold’em table.
Naturally, the hands you play, and how you play them, will change depending on thousands of different variables at the table.
But at the very core of the game, there are very few hands that are considered playable.
If there has been no player to open the pot (meaning no one has raised, or even limped ahead of you) you can play almost any hand with any sort of potential value.
Once someone has raised ahead of you, your hand selection should be narrowed down to only the hands that can give you the nuts, and help keep you out of any situation which has you dominated.
For example: you should never play KQ into a raise, as AA, KK, QQ, AK, and AQ all have you dominated.
Unless you have a very good reason to do so, as a beginner poker player you should stick to playing only the top 10 to 15 hands, period.
The more you play, and the better you become at the game, the more hands you can add to your playlist.
Until then, keep it simple, and always head to the flop with the best of it.
Top 15 Hold’em Starting Hands
- AK (suited)
- AQ (suited)
- AJ (suited)
- AK (off suit)
- KQ (suited)
- A10 (suited)
- KJ (suited)
- AQ (off suit)
- JQ (suited)