Experienced No Limit Texas Hold’em players are highly selective with the hands they play. A solid strategy for beginner poker players is to also be choosy with their starting hands. It is a logical decision to participate in a game only when your hand has the potential to set you up for success.
The Characteristics of Poker Starting Hands
First of all, poker starting hands can be split into two separate categories. These categories are non-paired hands and paired hands. Non-paired hands have 2 cards with different ranks and paired hands have 2 cards with the same rank.
In terms of probability, pairs are generally dealt every 17 hands in Texas Hold’em games. In any case, it is essential to understand exactly how paired hands are supposed to be played as they can greatly increase your bankroll when played correctly. Paired hands can be split into these categories: premium pairs (Queen/Queen, King/King and Ace/Ace combinations), medium pairs (9/9, 10/10 and Jack/Jack combinations) and lastly small pairs (2/2, 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, 6/6, 7/7 and 8/8).
When you have premium pairs, you should always play as these are the best pairs you can have in poker. Also, you generally do not need a good flop to stay on top. A great pre-flop strategy is to raise and bet as much as you can to squeeze as much cash as you can out of your opponents. This will ensure that the pot will be large when you take it. Medium pairs are also hands that you should consider playing with. Small pairs, however, are not ideal hands to play. If you choose to play with a small pair in hopes of getting a triple you should only do so if the flop is inexpensive.
What You Should Know About Non-Paired Hands
In terms of non-paired hands, it is important to have a grasp on the 3 basic factors involved: Suitedness, High Card and Connectedness. Each of these factors should be contemplated before you play a non-paired hand in poker. Out of these factors, the high card is the more essential factor. Connectedness and Suitedness are of equal importance.
• More on the High Card
The value of the high card determines the rank of your cards. Don’t forget that you will be dealt two hole cards in Texas Hold’em. The highest card of your hole cards is referred to as the high card. If you have a premium hand, however, then the pocket and hole cards are probably high cards. Take this example: a hand made up of a Queen/Ace has 2 high cards and a hand made up for a 4/Jack has 1 high card. Hands that have a couple cards that are below 9 are usually poor for play and should be folded.
• More on Suitedness
Suitedness has to do with whether your two hole cards are of the same or different suits. Say a player has these cards: 10 of clubs and King of clubs. This is called a suited non-paired hand. This type of hand can be used to form a flush so they are desirable cards to hold. A player that holds a 10 of clubs and King of spades, however, has a non-suited hand and it is of lower value.
• More on Connectedness
When you have starting hands that are non-paired, connectedness becomes very important. Connectedness defines how close the hole cards are to each other in value. As an example, say your hole cards are a Queen/King; these cards are very connected. On the other hand, if your hole cards are a 3/Queen, they are not very connected. It is more desirable to have highly connected cards as this makes it easier to form straights than with unconnected cards.
The three basic elements: Connectedness, Suitedness, and High Card are essential for deciding whether to play or not to play your starting hand.