Starting Hands

Here’s a picture of the basic starting hands (click to enlarge):

Starting Hands

Very strong starting hands

  • Pair of aces (pocket rockets)
  • Pair of Kings
  • Ace-King on suit
  • Pair of Queens
  • Pair of Jacks

Strong Starting Hands

  • Ace-Queen, Ace-Jack and Ace-10 on suit
  • Ace-King off suit
  • Pair of tens
  • Ace-10, King-Jack, Queen-Jack, Jack-10 on suit
  • Ace-Queen, Ace-Jack off-suit
  • Pair of nines
  • King-Queen off suit and on suit
  • King-10, Queen-10 on suit

Medium Strength Starting Hands

  • Pair of eights
  • Jack-9, 10-9 on suit
  • Pair of sevens
  • 9-8, 8-7 on suit
  • An ace with any other on suit card
  • King-Jack, Queen-Jack, Jack-10 off-suit

Other starting hands that are sometimes worth playing

  • Any low pair
  • Connected cards in the same suit, for example 8-7, 6-5, 5-4 etc
  • Ace-10, King-10, Queen-10 off suit
  • King-9, Jack-8 on suit

Starting hands you really shouldn’t play

Basically, anything else. You can still get away with it, and if you’re short stacked and forced to go all-in you may not have much choice, but they should generally be treated with extreme caution.

Always remember, that there’s an inherent degree of luck involved with the game. While playing the percentages should lead to a profitable and rewarding time at the poker tables, bad beats are a part of the game. You can sit there with a pair of aces against a player with 2-7 and watch them flop three of a kind to beat your pocket rockets…

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