Starting Hands in Texas Holdem

Thu, Nov 27, 2008


Texas Holdem starting hands are the first tip you should learn, in order to succeed at the poker table. It’s not the first decision you make in poker, however. You’ll first look at the available tables, and watch for a while. Even a beginner may see that the position a player is in — which seat — determines some of the strength of his hand. Notice, if you can, how players sitting in late position, which includes the dealer (where the “button” is) and the 3 to his right, tend to play differently and often more aggressively. This is because they have more information than the early and mid positions. They get to see what everyone else does before they act.

The dealer’s button, which passes one seat left (clockwise) around the table with each hand, sets the positions at the poker table. The person sitting immediately to the left of the button is the Small Blind, who — before any cards are dealt — places a bet on the table equal to 1/2 of the minimum required bet. The person sitting to the Small Blind’s left is called the Big Blind, who must also place a bet equal to the minimum required bet for that table. In Texas Holdem, the blinds serve the same purpose as the Ante in other variations of poker.

These forced bets serve to feed the pot and give everyone something to try for. The positions of the blinds are the earliest positions and are often money-losing seats. 

One of the most important things you need to do is pick the right table. For both beginners and those who know some poker, remember this holdem tip:  It is more favorable to sit at a table with players who call a lot, but don’t raise each other a lot. That means they’re putting in bets, (and adding some good money to the pot) but aren’t being that aggressive. 

The next most important tip is, of course, to play only good starting hands. As a beginner you should play cautiously (tight). If you’re sitting in early position at the table — in other words, you’re in one of the first 3 seats to the left of the dealer’s button — you are at a disadvantage. In early position, you should raise with a pair of Aces or Kings, or with A-K. You should call with A-Q suited, with QQ, JJ, TT, or A-K. If you have any other hand you should fold. 

You should know the top ten Texas Hold ’em starting hands; They are:










And if you have a high pair, you should definitely be raising preflop. By “high pair” I mean JJ or better. It is best to study odds tables and put in some time at the holdem tables before trying to call or raise someone with lesser hands, because it takes some skill to recognize when it is the right time and can be to your advantage to do so.

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