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Poker starting hands guide

How to play the right cards at the right time

The basic idea of poker is to play the strongest 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

LateMiddleEarly/Blinds
Ace Ace Re-raiseRaiseRaise
Ace King Re-raiseRaiseRaise
Ace Queen Re-raiseRaiseRaise
Ace Jack PlayPlayCheck/Fold
Ace Ten PlaySuitedCheck/Fold
Ace Nine SuitedCheck/FoldCheck/Fold
Ace Two SuitedCheck/FoldCheck/Fold
King King Re-raiseRaiseRaise
King Queen Re-raisePlayCheck/Fold
King Jack PlaySuitedCheck/Fold
King Ten PlayCheck/FoldCheck/Fold
King Nine PlayCheck/FoldCheck/Fold
Queen Queen Re-raiseRaiseRaise
Queen Jack PlaySuitedCheck/Fold
Queen Ten PlayCheck/FoldCheck/Fold
Queen Nine PlayCheck/FoldCheck/Fold
Jack Jack Re-raiseRaisePlay
Jack Ten Re-raiseSuitedCheck/Fold
Ten Ten Re-raisePlayPlay
Ten Nine SuitedSuitedCheck/Fold
Nine Nine PlayPlayCheck/Fold
Seven Seven PlayPlayCheck/Fold
Six Six PlayCheck/FoldCheck/Fold
Two Two PlayCheck/FoldCheck/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.

Download

Download starting hands PDF

Table positions

Table positions diagram

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.