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Texas Hold'em Poker Starting Hands

All good players know that the most common mistake most novice poker players do is playing too many hands (to read more about this type of mistakes read our article on poker beginner mistakes). Novice players lose money because they play hands that have very little chance of winning. An experienced player will discard most hands and play only hands that have a high probability to pay out. An expert, professional player will know how to play more hands and adjust his game to the players against him and the type of game his in. None the less, all beginning and even intermediate players should stick carefully to the better hands.

The table we are listing below is an enhanced and improved version of the starting hands brought in "Texas Hold'em for Advanced Players", by Mason Malmuth and David Sklansky. This book which still considered being the best poker book ever written first appeared in 1988, when there were still no good computer programs for analyzing poker. Recently, computer scientists reviewed the hands Sklansky recommended and found that they are mostly correct but can be slightly improved and adjusted. The hands are divided into groups - starting with the strongest hands and down to the weakest hands. Any hands that are not listed in this groups are practically 'garbage' hands and should be folded 99% of the time.

Group 1: AA, KK, AKs
Group 2: QQ, JJ, AK, AQs, AJs, KQs
Group 3: TT, AQ, ATs, KJs, QJs, JTs
Group 4: 99, 88, AJ, AT, KQ, KTs, QTs, J9s, T9s, 98s
Group 5: 77, 66, A9s, A5s-A2s, K9s, KJ, KT, QJ, QT, Q9s, JT, QJ, T8s, 97s, 87s, 76s, 65s
Group 6: 55, 44, 33, 22, K9, J9, 86s
Group 7: T9, 98, 85s
Group 8: Q9, J8, T8, 87, 76, 65
Group 30: A9s-A6s, A8-A2, K8-K2, K8-K2s, J8s, J7s, T7, 96s, 75s, 74s, 64s, 54s, 53s, 43s,
42s, 32s, 32

How should a player play this hands is a whole different story. Each of the hands is situational and depends on your position and the kind of game you are in. For more on the subject continue to our article on playing this hands or go back and read some of our [Texas Hold'em reading materials].

Peter Leary, Editor

January 3, 2006