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Texas Hold'Em
Best & Worst Starting Hands

There are 169 possible starting hands in Texas Hold'em, and at least half are considered to be unplayable. An important part of mastering Texas Hold'em is learning which starting hands are most playable, and in what position. For more on that, strategy, tips and more click on our links page.

The following list is a guide to Best & Worst Starting Hands in Texas Hold'Em, as well as other hands have the potential to be played.


 
Top 3 Starting Hands
1         Top of the list, AA is without doubt the most powerful starting hand you can be dealt.
2         Along with AA, KK is significantly more powerful than any other starting hand.
3         Whilst QQ does not have the almighty strength of it's 2 predecessors, it is still a significantly strong hand.
Starting Hands 4 thru 6
4         JJ ends the small group of pairs at the top of the list and is highly playable from any position.
5         AK (the suited hand as opposed to AKo which is unsuited or 'off-suit')
6         In sixth position we have a pair of tens- written TT
Starting Hands 7 thru 10
7         AQ is another strong suited hand that has great flush and good straight possibilities.
8         AJ, and we are now half way through the top 16 hands
9         AKo is our first unsuited hand. Although highly playable it doesn't offer any flush possibilities.
10         KQ is the first of the hands that does not contain an Ace or a pair. The increase in possible straights just edges it above hand #11
Starting Hands 10 thru 15
11         AT continues the strength of the suited hands.
12         KJ has slightly better straight possibilities than AT but the King is simply not as powerful as the Ace.
1         AQo has strength mainly in it's high pair and trip potential,although a straight is caught occasionally.
1         99 will offer a good chance to beat a non-pair in a heads up situation but could fall short in a multi-way pot.
1         QJ has obvious strengths in it's flush and straight potential but can be caught out by opponents holding an Ace or King.
Starting Hands 16 thru 24
1         KT is the last of the 'big 16'. These top 16 hands can be played from any position but you must always be prepared to fold if the flop and turn go against you.
1         88 starts the 2nd group of 8 hands. These are all playable hands but a little caution should be used in earlier positions.
1         QT is another hand that draws a large part of it's strength from being suited.
1         A9 is the first of our non-pair hands that cannot create a straight.
20         AJo draws just enough strength from it's Ace to put it above #21
21         JT becomes the first of our hands that has full straight potential. 3 cards either side could create a straight (e.g.. Q,K,A or 7,8,9)
22         KQo looks stronger than it plays. Although fully playable, do not be overawed by it.
23         A8 is another hand that cannot create a straight.
24     ATo is the last of the 2nd group of hands. If the game is very tight then it may not prove worthwhile to play any hands further down the list, but if it's that tight then you should probably consider moving tables.
Starting Hands 25 to 30
24          28    ;    This group of hands can be played from early positions if the game is not too tight but it may be wise to only play them from medium positions
24          29    
24          30    
Starting Hands 31 thru 36
31          34        As with the previous group, this group can be played in early positions but a little more caution should be used. It's probably sensible to play them only from medium positions but this depends on how loose the game is.
32          35    
33          36    
Starting Hands 37 thru 42
37          42        It would probably be best to only play this last group from later positions.
 
Hands that are not in this top list of 42 should only be played under special circumstances such as, possibly, when you are the small blind with no raises
38          41    
39          42    
Bottom Six Starting Hands 164 thru 169
38          38        This is the worst group of hands and have no redeemable features.
 
These should only be played on a 'free ride' from the big blind or if you really have the urge to bluff someone.
38          38    
38          38    
Poker Odds for Texas Hold'em

Hand Odds and Poker Odds: What are are the chances of you making a hand in poker? Check out this link for some very helpful details.
 

More On Texas Hold'em Starting Hands

Here's an easy primer for starting hands, shown below in general power order groups, with names that are easy to remember. Remember these points: HIGH CARDS are Aces, Faces and Tens; MEDIUM CARDS are 9 thru 7; LOW CARDS are 6 thru 2.

Strongest Starting Hands
PAIR of HIGH CARDS: AA, KK, QQ, JJ, 1010
ACE and HIGH CARD SUITED: AK(S), AQ(S), AJ(S), A10(S)
FACES SUITED: KQ(S), KJ(S), QJ(S)
ACE KING:AK

Medium Strength Starting Hands:
FACE TEN SUITED: K10(S), Q10(S), J10(S)

MEDIUM PAIRS: 99, 88, 77
TWO HIGH CARDS: AQ, AJ, A10 (ace king ranks higher, above), KQ down to J10
ACE and MEDIUM SUITED: - A9(S), A8(S), A7(S)
MEDIUM SUITED CONNECTORS: 109(S), 98(S), 87(S)

Other Conditional Starting Hands:
LOW PAIRS: 66, 55, 44, 33, 22
ACE and LOW SUITED: A6(S), A5(S), A4(S), A3(S), A2(S)
LOW SUITED CONNECTORS: 76(S), 65(S), 54(S) (lowest)


 
suit    suit    suit    suit
 

Once you master which hands can be played, you've put yourself in a position to start winning more. This knowledge will set you apart from the real novices at the tables.

That notwithstanding, NEVER forget the golden rule: "Any starting hand can be beaten."

If the flop and the turn go against your pair of Aces then fold your hand. Playing a strong starting hand to the end, notwithstanding other factors, can and will cost you.

Patience, in poker as in life, is a virtue. Keep a level head, play the game as it unfolds, not just how it started.

 


 
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