Texas Hold’em Starting Hands

In poker, deciding which hands to play will almost always depend on the number of players also in the hand with you. For instance; you are much more likely to play almost nearly starting hand dealt to you when up against only two other players (at least to see a flop), but need to be much more selective when up against nine other players.

For those new to the game of poker, a quick guide on the best hands of poker are listed below. These are the hands you should usually play, but keep in mind the number of players against, and keep in mind is not an exact guide. After enough play you’ll develop your own idea of what the best hands are to keep to go with your playing style.

Great Starting Hands:

You’ll pretty much always want to play these starting hands through to see a flop at least in a limit or pot-limit scenario. This, of course, does not mean you will win every time one of these hands is given to you, but there is good reason to play them, and they can often take a pot without even improving with community cards.

  • Ace, Ace
  • King, King
  • Queen, Queen
  • Jack, Jack
  • Ace, King Suited

Good Starting Hands:

You can still play the following hands on most occasions, but don’t expect to win with them without improving when the community cards are dealt. You might fold these hands before the flop if a large raise is made by another player.

  • 10,10
  • 9,9
  • Ace, Queen Suited
  • Ace, Jack Suited
  • Ace, Ten Suited
  • King, Queen Suited
  • King, Jack Suited
  • King, Ten Suited
  • Queen, Jack Suited
  • Queen, Ten Suited
  • Jack, Ten Suited
  • Ace, King Unsuited
  • Ace, Queen Unsuited
  • Ace, Jack Unsuited

Respectable Starting Hands:

While these hands are playable, nothing but a small raise should be called (and even that might be cause for concern). Put simply, these are not hands you will win with too often if you play them like a good or great hand, but they do have a decent change of improving (low pairs into trips, suited and sequential cards can turn into flushes and/or straights, etc).

  • 8,8
  • 7,7
  • Jack, Nine Suited
  • Ten, Nine Suited
  • Nine, Eight Suited
  • Eight, Seven Suited
  • Ace, Anything Else Suited
  • King, Jack Unsuited
  • Queen, Jack Unsuited
  • Jack, Ten Unsuited
  • Cards that are both sequenced and suited are usually decent starters as well. The only other hand that you should consider playing besides everything listed above may be a small player. Otherwise, feel free to fold anything else easily.

Don’t take this guide as gospel on what you should do all the time. Create your own mental guide and rules on which hands to play based on your own experiences and the opponents you’re dealing with. Make sure the hands you play work well against the players and pace of the table. Keeping all these factors in mind will ensure you only play the hands that give the best chances to take pots.