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Hold'em Poker
- Basics of Gameplay
- Hold'em Glossary

- Starting Hands
- - Krieger Start Chart
- - Sklansky/Malmuth
- - Bill Chen Formula
- Start Hand Quiz
- The Flop
- Article Index

General Concepts
- Common Mistakes
- Times for Caution
- Player Types
- Position
- Odds

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Starting Hands

As the saying goes, starting hands are a gospel for the beginner, a guide for the experienced and a point of departure for the pro (or something like that). The point is that a beginner must have quality starting hands in order to survive playing poker. The only problem with this type of play is that it's predictable and other players may not pay you off. As a player gains more experience he/she can then begin to play looser hands, as they will have the knowledge how to play them correctly in later rounds. A good example of this is if you play with 54s and catch a 4 on the flop, an experienced player knows that it's probably better to throw the low pair away, as it is most likely already beaten. It saves the beginner a lot of grief by throwing away 54s and not get into any tricky situations. For a pro, one of the most valuable skills they can have is the ability to mix up their game and play almost any hand (at least appear that way). A pro has rhyme to their reason and only play poor hands when the circumstances call for it. Most of the time, they will play the same types of starting hands listed here, but with their experience, they have the ability to play other hands and avoid the pitfalls those hands may bring.

Also, looser inexperienced players tend to play any single high card, any pair or any two suited cards. Be aware of this when playing low limit games and deciding what to do.

Correct strategy is a balance of playing the cards and playing the people.

Types of Hands
  • Pocket Pairs (AA-22)
  • Big Cards (A-J)
  • Connectors (AK), One Gap (KJ), Two Gap (T7)
  • Suited Aces or Kings
Big Cards / High Pairs
  • Desire Small # of Players (Raise to eliminate)
  • The more players in a hand, the more likely someone will have a monster with less powerful starting cards.
Small Pairs / Suited Connectors
  • Desire Larger # of Players (Call or Fold)
  • With less players in a pot, the odds of your hand becoming more powerful are not justified by the pot odds.
Position Considerations
  • # of Players in the Hand
  • Early - Tighter Play
  • Middle - Tight Play
  • Late - Looser Play
Starting Hand Charts
The following strategies are outlined below:

Starting Hand Articles

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