Betting Starting Hands

There are 169 unique, nonequivalent, starting hands in Texas Hold ‘em Poker. To complicate this even further, the hands that you do play, should be played differently depending on your position on the table. That is, your position in regards to the button (dealer).

The chart on the left offers a general guideline on how a particular starting hand should be played pre-flop. What will surprise most beginners is just how many hands should be folded off that bat. In fact if you follow basic poker strategy, you will find yourself folding around 75% of all your hands.

The 169 possible hole card combinations are not equally likely to occur, and those that are, are not equally likely to win. For example, a pair of Aces, and a pair of 2′s both have a 1/17 (6%) of being dealt, but it is clear from the table that they do not dictate the same style of play.

Texas Hold ‘em hole cards are often classified into three groups:

Pairs, which we’ve just seen as having a 1/17 chance of being dealt.

Suited Hands, consisting of any two cards of the same suit (different value). e.g. – probability: 4/17 (24%)

Offsuit Hands, any 2 differing value cards with a different suit. e.g. – probability: 12/17 (71%)

Just remember, this table only refers to the recommended betting procedure before the flop. After community cards are shown, you must adapt your strategy according to a new set of guidelines called pot-odds. This is because the strength of hole cards vary throughout play, depending on what community cards appear. Calculating pot odds will be discussed in another article, but for now, the most important thing to learn is what cards you should even play to get to the flop. There’s no real need to discuss the table in too much detail, just play 20 – 30 hands and refer to it if unsure. Get a practical sense of how often you receive pocket pairs. Just recognize the obvious; picture cards are good, picture pair cards are better.

Perhaps by now you are starting to appreciate just how complex and multidimensional poker is. But don’t be dismayed. There really are just a couple more concepts to grasp before you can move on and start winning some real cash.

The next topic you should consider is Calculating Pot Odds.

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