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Poker School

Poker starting hands: playing the right cards at the right time

The basic idea of poker is to play the strongest poker hands in early position, good hands in mid-position and a few more hands in the late (aka strongest) position.

Over time, you'll naturally want to shake things up a bit. For now, stick with this and you'll never find yourself in trouble holding 7-2 off-suit.

Hole cards

Late Middle Early/Blinds
Ace Ace Re-raise Raise Raise
Ace King Re-raise Raise Raise
Ace Queen Re-raise Raise Raise
Ace Jack Play Play Check/Fold
Ace Ten Play Suited Check/Fold
Ace Nine Suited Check/Fold Check/Fold
Ace Two Suited Check/Fold Check/Fold
King King Re-raise Raise Raise
King Queen Re-raise Play Check/Fold
King Jack Play Suited Check/Fold
King Ten Play Check/Fold Check/Fold
King Nine Play Check/Fold Check/Fold
Queen Queen Re-raise Raise Raise
Queen Jack Play Suited Check/Fold
Queen Ten Play Check/Fold Check/Fold
Queen Nine Play Check/Fold Check/Fold
Jack Jack Re-raise Raise Play
Jack Ten Re-raise Suited Check/Fold
Ten Ten Re-raise Play Play
Ten Nine Suited Suited Check/Fold
Nine Nine Play Play Check/Fold
Seven Seven Play Play Check/Fold
Six Six Play Check/Fold Check/Fold
Two Two Play Check/Fold Check/Fold

Re-raise

Re-raise

You're in a strong position here, so go for it. This is your chance to take control.

Raise

Raise

You've got good cards in a good position. see if you can make them count with a solid and confident raise.

Play

Play

Play these cards, but watch out - your opponents' may be stronger. If people are raising in front of you, you may have to fold.

Suited

Suited

Only play these cards if they're the same suit.

Check/Fold

Check/Fold

If you have the opportunity to see the flop for free, check, if not fold your hand.

Table positions

Examples

A

Player A is in an early position and has been dealt A-K suited. Player A should raise to test the resolve of the other players at the table.

B

Player A is in a middle position and has been dealt A-5. All other players check, Player A checks also, but a player in the late position, raises. Player A should fold.

C

Player A is in a late position and has been dealt A-A. Player A should raise or re-raise to dictate the terms of the betting pre-flop.

Suited connectors

Includes hands like 8-7 suited or Q-J suited.

These have the potential to make both straights and flushes, but can get you into trouble. Fold if the flop isn't kind.