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Understanding Texas Holdem starting hands is the most important part of a winning holdem strategy. It is the foundation on which a players game will be built. This is why there is an entire section devoted to them
One of hold’em’s most crucial decisions is, do I see the flop or don’t I see the flop?
How they are Ranked
Starting hands are ranked mainly according to their mathematical strength combined with how confidently and correctly the hand can be played. A player must be able to play a poker hand with confidence. Since everyone is different nothing can be set in stone.
There are 169 different two card starting hand combinations in hold’em poker. This number assumes, for the sake of argument, that A ♣ K ♣ is the same as A♦ K♦ , or any other suited combination. If you are not dealt a pair, then your starting hand will either be suited or unsuited, and either connected or unconnected (gapped). This means your starting hand will fall into one of the following five categories:
Pairs – e.g. A♣ A♦, 9 ♠9♥, 3♦ 3 ♠
Suited connectors – e.g. A♦ K♦ , J ♠ 10 ♠, 7♥ 6♥
Connecting cards – e.g. . Q♣J♦, 10 ♠9♥, 5♦ 4♠
Suited unconnected cards – e.g. K♦ J♦ , 10♣ 8 ♣, 9♥ 5♥
Unconnected cards – e.g. Q ♠ 10♦, 9♣7♥, 6♦ 2♣
Unconnected cards might be one, two, three-gapped, or more. The bigger the gap, the less chance you have of hitting a straight. For example, if you hold 73, then you’d need a flop of 456 for the straight. But holding T8, you could flop a straight with 9JQ or 679.
Top 10 Best Hold’em Poker Hands
This is the best Hold’em poker hand you can hope to have.
This 2nd-best hold’em hand is still incredibly strong and will win you a good chunk of change. Two kings, or “cowboys” are only dominated by aces.
Two queens, or “ladies” are a very good hand. Sure, kings and aces will beat you, but you’ve got the upper hand on jacks and below.
Ace-king is a strong but tricky hand. It is the strongest of the drawing hands, but the flop needs to work with you to give you a pair of aces or kings for it to really pay off. Suited it is slightly stronger than unsuited, as then you can also make the nut flush much more easily.
A pair of jacks, ten-handed, will win almost 20% of the time. If the flop shows a queen, king, or ace, watch out, but otherwise, it’s smooth sailing.
Ace-queen is the second best drawing hand, and when suited, will win about 20% of the time as well.
King-queen, especially suited, is a great drawing hand that is only afraid of an Ace falling on the board.
Ace-jack is another great drawing hand. Suited is always better here, but unsuited is still playable.
King-jack, especially in later positions, is a fine hand to play, but can be beat by any of the hands listed above and should be folded to big raises. Statistically, suited it will win just under 19% of the time, but unsuited that drops to just 15%.
Ace-ten is still a good hand — you’ve got the ace, and can make a straight if the miracle J-Q-K falls on the board. But be wary of playing it too strong, especially unsuited, as if all you end up with is a pair of aces, you may be out-kicked.