In Texas Hold’em, the first choice everyone has is seeing the two cards nobody else gets to see. It is an exciting moment, in a real casino, just before you turn up the edges to peak at the cards, making sure nobody can see them, or when they display, only to you, on the computer screen in an online poker game. Real poker players never tire of this moment. These are your “hole” cards. Be aware when getting really great hole cards, this is a very likely place for your “tells” to show. “Tells” are involuntary reactions which give other players some indication of how strong your two hole cards are. When in person, in a casino, “tells” may be some body language. Online “tells” may be speed of placing a bet, when it is your turn to bet.
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Beginner’s often try to “play” poker and often get “played” because of the desire to bet on too many hands. Good poker strategy includes knowing when to stay out of the game. This does not mean you stop playing. Quite the opposite. When not playing a hand, this is the chance to watch the other players. See if you can guess what cards they have, by how they play them. Often it is much easier to see these patterns when none of your own money is at stake.
Some hands are better than others and are technically considered “always-play” hands, because of the odds in your favor. The most obvious is the best hand, some like to call them “pocket-rockets” or “bullets” meaning two Aces. Next best are pairs of either Kings, Queens, or Jacks. These are also always-play hands. Following the high pairs, are hands made of high cards of the same suit.
Any Ace with a high card in the same suit such as Ace and King of hearts is an always-play hand. This means same suited Ace with King, or Queen or Jack is an always-play hand. Same goes for the King and Queen. The only place where the pattern changes is with the Ten. The odds start to be less strong when the Ace, King, or Queen comes with a Ten. The only combination of suited cars with a Ten, which is always-play is the combination of Jack and Ten. The reason for this is the Jack-Ten combination has a chance of making a straight or flush from the lower value cards.
Unsuited cards of high value are also always-play, but they are limited to three combinations, which are: Ace with King or Queen, and King-Queen.
Always-Play Two Hole Cards Are:
Pairs of High Cards: A-A, K-K, Q-Q, J-J
Same Suited High Cards: A-K, A-Q, A-J, K-Q, K-J, Q-J, J-10
Unsuited High Cards: A-K, A-Q, K-Q
Learning the always-play cards is essential for beginners. You will save a fortune in losses from mistakes while learning the game if you concentrate only on the always-play cards. When you don’t get them, FOLD. Then watch and learn from the other players’ behavior.