How you play your starting hands is extremely important if you want to make long term profit playing No Limit Texas Hold’em.
A player that has too high hopes for his start hand will end up losing money by holding on to start pairs that should have been thrown away before the flop. On the other hand, if you get to critical, you will throw away too many start hands, and you will also come across as a player that only keeps super good start hands – something that will make the other players less interested in engaging you when you stay in the pot.
Below, you will find a few tips regarding starting hands in No Limit Texas Hold’em. Of course, they are not set in stone. They are only intended to be used as a stepping stone towards you building your own strategy for staring hands. Also, a successful poker player knows how to mix it up. If you always play by following certain detailed rules, you will be easy to read for a skilled player.
A starting hand that consists of a high pair (AA or KK)
This is a great starting hand. It is good in its own right, and it can also quite easily turn into something even better with some help form the board.
If you are playing at table with several players, and several of those players decide to see the flop, you should get a bit cautious even if you have a high pair starting hand. One way of trying to prevent this situation is to make a big raise pre-flop and hopefully manage scare away all players except one. With just one opponent, the chances of someone getting a better hand than you are smaller.
So, how much is a big raise pre-flog? The answer is that this varies from table to table. At many tables, raising with 10% of your stack pre-flop will be enough for other players to take notice. On other tables, especially low limit tables or other tables with unusually soft players, raising with 25% of your stack or more may be required to get the same effect. It is all about knowing your table.
A good place to sit when you get AA or KK is at the small or big blind. This gives the other players a chance to raise pre-flop before it is your time to act. If you manage to scare them all away with your raise and find yourself without any opponent, you don’t have to feel sad because there is at least some money in the pot.
A starting hand that consists of a pair that’s not AA or KK
If your start hand is a pair, the odds of getting three of a kind on the flop is 7.5 to 1. Since three of a kind (a set) is such a strong hand on the flop, pocket pairs are considered a good starting hand and are usually not folded before the flop, regardless of the players position at the table.
If any of the other players make a big pre-flop raise, don’t let that scare you. Evaluate the situation. In many cases, calling (rather than folding) with a pocket pair is a good idea pre-flop, provided that calling doesn’t require you to call for more than about 8% of the opponent’s stack.
Raising is not recommended for a No Limit Texas Hold’em starting hand consisting of a pair that is not AA or KK. It is better so wait and see. If you make a set, you can be more aggressive. Don’t rush things.
A starting hand that consists of an Ace + another card (2-K) from the same suit
If you have an ace + another card (2-K) from the same suit you have a pretty nice chance of getting an ace-high flush. If the other card is 10 or higher, you can also hope for a straight.
This hand should normally not be discarded pre-flop, regardless of your position at the table.
Do not raise pre-flop. Only call if you can do this without it costing you more than two big blinds. Do not call a big pre flop-raise.
A starting hand that consists of two cards within the T-A range
If both the cards in your start hand is ten or higher, you have a pretty nice chance of flopping a top pair. You can also hope for a straight or straight draw. Since top pair (as well as an incomplete straight) is a rather weak hand in No Limit Texas Hold’em, this start hand should normally be discarded unless you are in late position, i.e. at the button or at any of the two seats right of the button. When you are in late position, you can play this hand more effectively post-flop. Generally speaking, cards in the T-A range play better in multi-way pots, so don’t scare people away. Limit your calls to a maximum of four times the amount that other players are already in the pot with. Do not call a raise. It might be tempting to call pre-flop raises with this type of start hand, but it rarely ends well for those who do.