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Starting Hands, Pre-Flop Game

For the beginner, the most important rule is to strictly go by the Starting Hands List. It is absolutely necessary put it next to your computer so you can check it and act accordingly when evaluating your pre-flop hand! After a while, you will know the list more or less by heart and will not need it anymore.
To understand the list, you have to know the card symbols, know that AQs means Ace Queen suited, JTo means Jack Ten offsuit.
Cap means you raise to the maximum even when you get raises and reraises from your opponents.
Calling two bets after someone raised is “cold calling”.  Very important: If somone raises before you act, play only with the so-called “premium hands” AA, KK, QQ, AKs, AQs, AJs, AKo!

The starting hands list decides your pre-flop action for you on the basis of the probability of your hand developping to be the winning hand and the expectation of the potential size of the pot. All hands that are not listed here are trash and must be folded!
It is a mathematical fact, that when you play 100 rounds at a table, you get a playable hand only about 20 times. That means, you call only with app. 20% of your hands. If you play more, you will definitely loose money.
Calling with a hand like J9o may win you a pot every once in a while, but in the long run you will loose money.

There are 3 reasons for this:

  1. After the flop, you will be forced to fold your hand more often than not – your investment is lost
  2. Sometimes after the flop you will have a hand that is mediocre but playable – but your chances are thin. You will get involved in a hand where you take a beating rather often, and that is even more expensive
  3. If you call with a weak hand for one bet, you will get raised often and then you are committed to the pot and have to invest another bet. This will happen more often when your opponents find out that you frequently call with trash hands.

The reasons why certain hands are being raised pre-flop is that they either have a high probability to be the best hand after the flop even when the flop misses them (high pairs like AA, KK, QQ) or that they have more than one chance to develop to the strongest hand (like AKs: double chance to make top pair/top kicker, flush and straight possibilities) or in their high-card strenght (AKo, AQo).

The importance of position for the strenght of your hand cannot be emphasized high enough: a hand like Q9s which you can call with on the button, must be folded in early position!

 

Make a printout of this list and use it while playing!

 


Starting hand

Early

Middle

Late

Small Blind

Big Blind

AA, KK, QQ

Cap

Cap

Cap

Cap

Cap

JJ, TT

Raise

Raise

Raise

Raise

Raise

99, 88, 77

Call

Call

Call

Call

Check

66, 55

Call

Call

Call

Call

Check

44, 33, 22

Call

Call

Call

Call

Check

 

 

 

 

 

 

AKs

Cap

Cap

Cap

Cap

Cap

AQs, AJs

Raise

Raise

Raise

Raise

Raise

ATs

Call

Call

Raise

Raise

Raise

A9s, A8s, A7s

Call

Call

Call

Call

Check

A6s - A2s

 

Call

Call

Call

Check

 

 

 

 

 

 

KQs

Raise

Raise

Raise

Raise

Raise

KJs

Call

Call

Call

Call

Check

KTs

Call

Call

Call

Call

Check

K9s

 

Call

Call

Call

Check

K8s - K2s

 

 

Call

Call

Check

 

 

 

 

 

 

QJs

Call

Call

Call

Call

Check

QTs

Call

Call

Call

Call

Check

Q9s

 

 

Call

Call

Check

Q8s - Q2s

 

 

Call

Call

Check

 

 

 

 

 

 

JTs

Call

Call

Call

Call

Check

J9s, J8s

 

 

Call

Call

Check

 

 

 

 

 

 

T9s, 98s

 

 

Call

Call

Check

87s, 76s, 65s, 54s

 

 

Call

Call

Check

 

 

 

 

 

 

T8s

 

 

Call

Call

Check

97s, 86s, 75s, 64s, 53s

 

 

Call

Call

Check

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AKo

Cap

Cap

Cap

Cap

Cap

AQo

Raise

Raise

Raise

Raise

Raise

AJo

Call

Raise

Raise

Raise

Raise

ATo

 

Call

Raise

Raise

Check

 

 

 

 

 

 

KQo

Raise

Raise

Raise

Raise

Raise

KJo

 

 

Call

Call

Check

KTo

 

 

Call

Call

Check

 

 

 

 

 

 

QJo

 

 

Call

Call

Check

QTo

 

 

Call

Call

Check

JTo

 

 

Call

Call

Check

 

 

 

 

 

Deposit options for US poker fans

If you are based in the US, finding a poker room that accepts US players is only one of your problems. It is also difficult to make money transfers. But there are a number of options for deposits and withdrawals for US gamblers and we have described them here ... read more

All Freeroll Poker Tournaments starting now

All the big poker rooms are offering freeroll tournaments. There is no need to deposit, but you can still win real money. To find a permanently updated schedule of all freerolls starting in the next few minutes, across all rooms - click this link!

Play Poker and Blackjack at the same room

Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games, due to a low house edge and the fact that strategy can improve your results. But not all poker rooms have Blackjack too. Find our favorite rooms for Poker and Blackjack - read this!

European Poker Tour qualifiers

The European Poker Tour is becoming more and more popular. With moderate buy-ins, but very large prize pools, a lot of money can be made at these events. In consequence, several rooms are offering satellites to qualify for the offline EPT events. To find out which rooms offer the best chances for EPT qualification read this article.