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What are poker starting hands

What are poker starting hands and how to choose them

If you know how to choose the right starting poker hands, you are guaranteed success at the end of the hand. This is the basis of a successful preflop strategy. If you wish, you can use ready-made data from tables (graphs), but remember that they do not guarantee the successful completion of the game.


At the first stage of distribution, the player receives starting cards (pocket or starting cards), which can be used in subsequent distributions to build the most profitable combination. At the start, a poker player needs to evaluate the profitability of pockets and the chances of winning in the future.

Before placing a bid in the auction, the player needs to decide whether to enter the game and how big the chances of winning are. Only strong pockets provide a high probability of winning.

Rules for choosing starters

Rules for choosing starters

No beginner will be able to determine the prospects for pockets preflop. Therefore, it is allowed to use calculators that quickly and accurately calculate equity.

The choice of hands depends on some game conditions:

  • opponent’s style of play;
  • Enemy range;
  • Positions at the table;
  • The number of opponents in the game;
  • The number of competitors participating in the auction;
  • Rival bets.

Each type of poker has a certain strategy, which can be profitable for one game and unprofitable for another.

Location of positions at the poker table

Each player is assigned a specific position at the table, depending on whether he moves earlier or later. For a table with ten participants, the arrangement is as follows:

  1. Early. The first two players act after the blinds. They have practically no information about the further actions of their opponents, so they are forced to play only strong pockets.
  2. Middle. The next three players go. They have some information about the actions of previous opponents, but they do not know what half of the players who have not yet made their move will do.
  3. Late. The two players in front of the small blind already know the actions of most opponents, so they can play any cards, up to medium and small starting hands.
  4. Blinds. They act last but act conservatively as they are disadvantaged on the flop by early positions.

Types of starters

Types of starters

To learn how to distinguish strong hands from weak hands, you need to familiarize yourself with the varieties of pockets.


These are the strongest starters – pairs of aces, kings, queens, and an ace and king of the same suit. They can be safely played in an early position with high stakes.

Hands with aces

It is pleasant for everyone to receive an ace in the distribution, but it is important with which card it will be paired. The best combinations are Jack-Ace, Queen-Ace, and King-Ace. During the draw, the poker player whose second card is higher wins.

Small and Medium Pairs

Despite the fact that such starters look tempting, the maximum benefit from them can only be obtained in multiway pots. For example, a pair of sevens can be played aggressively if the cards on the table are lower in value, which is extremely rare.

The benefits of small and medium pockets will be in two cases:

  • If the opponents entered the game in an attempt to collect the Set at the minimum price;
  • If the opponent has a high stack, then there is a chance to take the pot if a three-of-a-kind is a bet.


These are stacks of cards next to each other, such as JQ, 78, and 9T. When they come up, the poker player can make a straight. The older the connectors, the more likely it is to make a top pair. The strongest combinations are AK and AQ.

Suitable pockets

With this pair, you have a chance to hit the flush. But on the flop, he will come in 0.8% of hands, in 11% of cases he will make a flush draw. Only high starters of the same suit are of great value, with which you can collect high Pairs.

Entering the game with pockets according to ready-made charts

For a faster and more accurate calculation, beginners can use a chart – a table of hands distributed by position. These tips will help you know when to trade first when you are in the right position. However, the method with charts does not guarantee a profitable game, since other factors must also be taken into account here – the opponent’s playing style, and the size of his bet.

Popular charts:

  • Tables for Sit&Go tournaments;
  • The Sklansky starting hands table;
  • Heads-up by Nash;
  • Charts for multi-table tournaments;
  • Deep stack strategy.

Choose the right poker starting hands to guarantee a win and win the whole pot.