Texas Hold'Em Starting Hands

In all Texas Hold'em games from ten-man ring games to no-limit to short-handed play, the number one thing that will determine your success or failure is the starting hands you play. If you routinely play crap hands out of position in Hold'em you will get slaughtered. It is very important to play disciplined poker and stick to a starting hand strategy without going on tilt.

Here's a quick rundown of Texas Holdem poker starting hands ("s" denotes suited):

AA-QQ, AK, AKs: Raise and re-raise from any position.

TT-JJ, AQs, AQ, AJs: Very solid hands, you can call a raise if you have position on the raiser and sometimes re-raise. Consider folding when out of position against multiple raisers.

88-99, AJ, ATs, KQs: Getting harder to call a raise with these hands. If you're the first in the pot by all means raise, but consider folding if raised into.

77, KQ, AT, A9s: Can't call a raise with these hands. Can't call period if in early position. Raise from late position to steal blinds.

55, 66, KJ, AXs, KTs, QJs, JTs: If you call a raise with these hands then you're going broke soon. Play late position into unraised pots only.

Suited connectors and lower pocket pairs: Play these only in unraised pots where you have good position and at least 3-4 other players in the pot. To win with these hands you need to hit the flop big time with a straight or flush draw in the case of suited connectors or trips in the case of pocket pair. This won't happen often so you need to make sure you're getting good implied odds to make it worth your while to stay in the pot. The more players in the hand, the higher the implied odds of these hands. Don't call a raise pre-flop with these hands because your implied odds will get slaughtered.

Anything else: Usually play only for deception or blind stealing. There are a few exceptions, of course you can play something like J9s in late position with five players in the unraised pot. Play smart and adjust these guidelines for the game situation.

Here are several off-site Usenet posts discussing Hold'em starting hands:

Holdem Starting Hand Formula

No-Limit Holdem Starting Hands

Short-Handed Holdem Starting Hands