Holdem Starting Hands

In Texas holdem the first two cards dealt to each player are the holdem starting hands. As a players’ starting hand consists of two “hole” cards it is essential that the odds on the dealt cards are understood as it is on the strength of these two cards that the decision to bet will be made.

One hand in every 17 dealt will be a “pocket pair” (2 cards of the same rank), 4 hands out of every 17 will be “suited” cards (and a potential Flush) and 12 in 17 will be “offsuit” hands ( which could be ranking cards and potential high pairs e.g. Ace of Hearts and King of Clubs).

Generally all of the holdem starting hands have different strengths, these are rated on the assumption that nine or ten people are playing so if you are one of the first players any “pocket pair” is worth a bet but higher pairs should be played with restraint to leave your opponents guessing as to their value. The later your position at the table will influence the choices you make according to the value of your cards, the number of active hands and the size of the bets. If you were the seventh to tenth player and there were several active bets and raises a small pair should probably be discarded. High “suit” cards are probably worth a small bet early in the table and, if the stakes are not too high, they are worth holding on to if you are later in the table.

The “offsuit” hands are not such a good bet whatever your position at the table and even an Ace, King combination is only ranked around 12th position in a table of winning probabilities. The top ranked probabilities are the pocket pairs’ Aces to Queens followed by the “suited” cards Ace King and Ace Queen. How you play your hand will depend on how others play their hands and even on how you feel. You should always be aware of the odds on your hand being the winner and bet accordingly.

Even the best odds and reasoning can be thwarted when the community cards are exposed, especially the with the river card. The real skill is in knowing at which point you keep betting but, more importantly, at which point you don’t bet. The ability to recognise and run a bluff is also important. Knowing a good hand is not a guarantee of success but knowing the best holdem starting hands can certainly influence your decisions.


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