Goldog’s Starting Hand Guide

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The starting hands you choose to play will determine your success or failure at any form of Poker. In Texas Hold Em’ if you don’t set high starting hand requirements you will constantly get yourself in trouble. Often you will find you are “outkicked” or in some other way “dominated”. Because of community cards, catching up is much more dificult in Holdem’ than in games like 7 card stud where there are no shared cards. In this section I will be showing you what kinds of cards you should be playing and more importantly what to stay away from.

Pre-flop Strategy for Selecting Starting Hands in Holdem’

Big pairs and Big cards rule in holdem’. If you hold AA,KK or AK you are either ahead or not far behind most other hands. Even QQ or JJ are not far ahead of AK. Ideally these are the cards you want to start with. Unfortunatly, these don’t come along often enough that you can just sit and wait around for them. Monster cards do come and you will make money from them, but if that’s all you played you’d lose more in blinds than you could make on the hands. In addition, no one would call your bets knowing you only play the “Nuts” or close to it as your starting cards. In the following sections I will show you which cards playable and under what circumstances.

Goldogs Starting Hand Guide

Pocket Pairs
These are very good starting hands, especially high ones. AA is the best starting hand, KK & QQ are quite strong as well. The medium high pairs JJ, TT & 99 are also very strong but are susceptible to overcards (cards higher than your pocket pair) falling after the flop. Pairs under 88 will usually face 1 or more overcards on the flop. The lower your pocket pair the more likely it is that you’ll need to improve your hand on the flop. Improving your pair by getting “Trips” on the flop only happens occasionally. When it does you have a very strong hand. Otherwise you’ll often need to give up your small pair when the flop misses you. Starting hands like AA or KK are like bringing a couple of Pitbulls to the hand, while pocket 2s are like holding a pair of Toy Poodles. You’re going to need some help.

High Cards
Starting hands such as AK, AQ & KQ are also very strong. Although technically you are behind any pocket pair, these types of hands Dominate most other starting cards and are nearly a coin toss versus any pair lower than both of your cards. AK is the best of the unpaired starting hands. If you hit either of your cards on the flop you will hold top pair with top kicker (TPTK). This is usually good enough to win the pot. AQ, KQ are alsovery good assuming no one has AK. Usually they will let you know. As you get down to the weaker high cards there is an increasing chance of your starting hand being dominated. Some simple Holdem strategies suggest that you can play any 2 cards that add up to 20 or more. I caution against this if you want to consistently make money. You may run into kicker problems with hands like QT or even KJ. You don’t want to find out you’re on the wrong side of a dominated hand matchup. Study the info provided on

for more detailed instructions on when these hands can be played.

These are starting cards that are close in rank such as 56 or 89. This type of hand has some added value because you can make a straight. Of course higher cards are still better than low ones in most cases. One or two gap connectors such as 46 or 69 also have some value as starting cards although the strength goes down with each gap. Being connected alone is usually not enough to make a hand playable, but it is something to consider along with other factors such as being of the same suit. You will need some luck on when you play connectors but when you hit with them they can pay off nicely.

Suited cards
These are simply 2 cards of the same suit. This is a nice bonus to a hand you would have played anyways, but it’s not usually enough to change an unplayable hand into one you’d want to play. An exception to this idea involves Suited Connectors. These hands have numerous ways of winning because you can make a straight or flush. In addition, if you make two pair or better, most players won’t be able to “put you on” that kind of hand. Another type of suited hand is Ax or Kx Suited. The x means any rank of card the same suit as your Ace or King. Ace suited is very good because if you do make the flush it is usually the Nuts. Of course you do need to be aware of when it is not. If the board is paired you could face 4 of a kind or more likely a full house. Otherwise, a flush is the highest possible hand. There is 1 other exception to this rule and that is when the 3 flush cards on the board could make a straight flush. This is rare but it does happen.

Trash Hands
Most other starting hand combinations should be thrown away! Unless you are in the blinds or have a reason other than your cards to be in a hand, stay away from hands like K2, J5s or random suited cards. Even an ace with a medium kicker usually needs to be mucked without a thought. If you want to make money playing poker you will be folding the vast majority of the hands you are dealt.