Texas Holdem Beginners Starting Hands

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The rules of Texas holdem are simple, and easy to learn. But the rules are only a small piece of the puzzle when playing Texas holdem. The game is much more complicated then it appears on the surface. It can take a player many years to be good enough to win consistently. Knowing when to play your two starting cards, and when to fold them is paramount to success.

In this article I hope to address a series of starting hands and what should be done with them in particular situations. Remember situations in poker are always different. You have to know your opponents and act accordingly. You also have to have an understanding of the game and play in a way that maximizes this mood at the table. The following suggestions assume you are playing at a full (7 players or more) table, and you are a somewhat new player.

Big Hands

If you receive any of the following four hands, you should raise when it’s your turn to bet. If someone raised the pot already then re-raise. Play these cards for maximum value in the beginning rounds, and only slow down if you encounter severe resistance or think you are beat.

The four big hands are: AA, KK, QQ and AK.

Limp Hands

If you find yourself with an upper level pair of eights, nines, tens or Jacks, you want to limp in the pot, which means to simply call the minimum bet. However, if someone has raised the pot, you want to consider folding if they are a tight player. You are most likely beat. If the player is loose a re-raise might be in order to get the hand heads up, but use great caution to not get yourself trapped. Some players will limp in with any pair, some with pairs of fours or higher and so forth. This is something you will figure out for yourself. It is always wise to play tight when first starting out.


There are times when you will want to limp in with hands that can possibly pay off. Normally, you will play these hands when you are in the blinds or late position (one of the last to act). You want to play these hands against many players for as little money as possible. If the pot is raised pre-flop, fold.

These hands are: AQ, AJ, AT, KQ, KJ, QJ, and possibly JT. If these hands are suited, their value goes up, because you gain the possibility of a flush or straight flush.

It is these large connecting cards that get many new players in a lot of trouble. They are big cards that look like they should win pots. But the fact is if you don’t hit the flop you are very unlikely to win the pot. Also a hand like AT can lose a large pot to a AK in your opponents hand. If I had AT I would like to see a 10 be the largest hand on the board rather then an ace. Then I would have top pair ace kicker, rather then top pair 10 kicker.

In the beginning stages of your Texas holdem career, you should probably not play any hands not on this list. As you become a more skillful player you will have a few more hand options, such as small suited connectors and small pairs. These hands can sometimes be played in late position in un-raised pots. But in the beginning don’t try to be fancy, just play straight-forward poker and you will have some success.

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