Starting hands

Lifting hole cardsThere are 1 326 different starting hands in Texas hold’em, but if you leave out the different colour constellations there are totally 169.

Which starting hands a player should choose is something that has been discussed in many books about poker. Sometimes the hands have been divided into categories. This is a good way to get an oversight and because of that should the method be used here also. The categories below are only based on the objective strength of the starting hands, and it's not certain that a specific play should be applied on all starting hands in the same category.

In the choice of starting hands, you must also consider how many players there are on the table, which structure you are playing in and your own playing style (other articles on this site focus on these subjects).

Abbrevations used: A (Ace), K (King), Q (Queen), J, (Jack), T (Ten), s (suited)

Category 1

A-A
K-K
Q-Q
J-J
A-Ks

General playing instructions: Play in almost all situations and normally raise, re-raise or 3-bet.

Category 2

A-Qs
K-Qs
A-Js
T-T
A-K
A-Ts

General playing instructions: Play in almost all situations and normally raise or re-raise.

Category 3

A-Q
9-9
K-Js
8-8
A-J
K-Ts
Q-Js
K-Q

General playing instructions: Play in most situations and normally raise and sometimes re-raise.

Category 4

A9s
QTs
77
JTs
A8s
A-T
K9s
A7s
KJ
6-6
T-9s

General playing instructions: Play in late positions and sometimes in midle positions depending on the circumstances.

The list will not necessary correspond to which starting hands that win most in practical play. This depends on different factors such, for example, that is very easy to overplay some cards, like A-K. Another kind of "problem hands" is J-J and T-T. These are big hands, but the value of these hands decrease when a queen, a king or an ace hits the table.

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