Aside from the psychological aspect (which cannot be taught on any cheat sheet), Texas Hold’em is a game of probabilities. Every starting hand has a probability of going on to win the hand. That probability is based on the statistical odds of another player begin dealt a better starting hand, combined with the odds of your starter sustaining its superiority through the flop/turn/river.
It’s all very mathematically complex, taking into account thousands of potential outcomes. Fortunately, you don’t need a computer for a brain, so long as you have a good poker hand cheat sheet.
Above, we talked about the importance of player position and how it impacts your strength at the table. The same positional advantages apply to starting hands. I’m supplying three individual charts, designated for early, middle and late position. As usual, we assume a full 9-seat poker table.
Notes: An s indicated same-suit cards; o indicates off-suit.
Early Position / UTG Starting Hands – Texas Hold’em
Having no good information to work with, UTG players have the smallest hand range. You need a very good starter to move ahead. These are the hands with the highest probability of positive post-flop play. Worthy hands, from best to worst, include:
- Pairs: AA, KK, QQ, JJ, TT, 99, 88, 77
- Suited: AKs, AQs, AJs, ATs, KQs, KJs, KTs, QJs, QTs, JTs, T9s
- Offsuit: AKo, AQo
Middle Position / Lojack Starting Hands – Texas Holdem
In this position, your starting hands are determined by one important question. Are you the first player to raise? If an early positioner has put in before you, revert to the previous list of strongest starting hands. If, however, you are the first to put a voluntary bet into the pot – known as Raise First In (RFI) – you can play these starting hands with confidence.
- Pairs: AA, KK, QQ, JJ, TT, 99, 88, 77, 66, 55
- Suited: AKs, AQs, AJs, ATs, A9s, A8s, A7s, A6s, A5s, A4s, A3s, A2s, KQs, KJs, KTs, K9s, QJs, QTs, Q9s, JTs, T9s, J9s, 98s, 87s, 76s
- Offsuit: AKo, AQo, KQo, AJo
Late Position / OTB Starting Hands – Texas Hold’em
When you’re on the button, your hand range expands dramatically. Of course, the actions of those before you must be taken into account.
You must assume that any player in early or middle position who is showing strength, is holding one of the starting hands in their own positional category (see above). If that’s the case, your starting hand should also come from that category. But if no other player is showing strength up to this point, you can confidently put in with any of these late position starting hands.
- Pairs: AA, KK, QQ, JJ, TT, 99, 88, 77, 66, 55, 44, 33, 22
- Suited: AKs, AQs, AJs, ATs, A9s, A8s, A7s, A6s, A5s, A4s, A3s, A2s, KQs, KJs, KTs, K9s, K8s, K7s, K6s, K5s, K4s, K3s, QJs, QTs, Q9s, Q8s, Q7s, Q6s, JTs, J9s, J8s, J7s, T9s, T8s, T7s, 98s, 97s, 96s, 87s, 86s, 76s, 75s, 64s, 64s, 54s, 53s, 43s
- Offsuit: AKo, AQo, AJo, ATo, A9o, A8o, A7o, A6o, A5o, A4o, KQo, KJo, KTo, K9o, QJo, QTo, Q9o, JTo, J9o, T9o
I intend to add starting hands charts for additional poker games, including Omaha and Lowball poker. Please check back for future updates.