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

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.

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.