Best Texas Hold'em Starting Hands

Everyone is not going to agree on the best starting hands in poker, but a consensus centers around five particular sets of hole cards. Mason Malmuth and David Sklansky published their list of hand rankings, though they stipulated their chart did not apply to no-limit games. Phil Hellmuth wrote his list of best hands in 2003 book, Play Poker Like the Pros. Bill Chen also created the Chen Formula, which calculates starting hands by power ratings.

The consensus suggests five hands are top quality and should be played in the same way. Some of these hands dominate others, but the odds say they should be played as if they're going to win. They are ace-ace, king-king, queen-queen, jack-jack, and ace-king suited.

Ace-Ace Is Best

It's natural to assume ace-ace is the best hand, but it can present challenges to a player. Do they slow-play the hand, hoping to suck in players who might hit a better hand on the flop? Do they play aggressively, trying to get a smaller, surer win before the flop? If you've played Texas holdem for a few years or even just watched poker on television, you've seen numerous times when the AA suddenly was at a big disadvantage after the flop. Still, anyone is thrill to receive these cards, so you face a good dilemma most time on choosing how aggressive to be.

Paired Face Cards

The KK, QQ, and JJ all present a similar challenge, though you have to account for the fact a higher pair could beat you. You can't just assume you have top pair, though you will most of the time. This is especially true after the flop, when someone at a table full of 9 or 10 players is likely to have a similarly strong. Betting aggressively in these situations helps eliminate opponents who might catch the flop.

Ace-King Suited

Ace-king suited is a problematic hand, despite how much possibility it holds. On the one hand, you can improve four ways. You can pair aces or kings, or acquire a flush draw or a straight draw. On the other hand, AK suited has the chance of providing nothing. Even if nothing comes on the flop with the other four hands on this list, you still hold a nice, high pair of cards. If the flop doesn't help you with the ace-king suited, you're sitting there with ace high and only two cards to improve. Thus, the AK suited offers all kinds of possibilities pre-flop, but can get your in trouble post-flop. Try to see the flop for as little money as possible with ace-king, hoping fortune falls your way. If you can see the flop for cheap (or free), do it. That way, you aren't pot-committed if the community cards aren't helpful.

What is the Worst Hand in Poker?

The 7-2 offsuit is the worst hand in poker. It's the lowest pair of cards which offers no chance of a flush or a straight. In poker, though, weak hands can be played. Being able to read your opponent is a skill which makes certain professional poker players great. The art of the bluff is important, too. Doyle Brunson made the 10-2 offsuit famous (the Doyle Brunson hand) by completing the win at both the 1976 and 1977 World Series of Poker Main Events with 10-2 offsuit. Despite this being one of the worst hands possible, Brunson got amazing luck to win with a full house in 1976, then dominated a similarly weak hand in the 1977 event. This provides two important lessons. One, any hand which makes it into the flop can be dangerous. Two, when you have the big stack at the table and the blinds are increasing, it puts tremendous pressure on the other player, forcing them to make decisions they wouldn't otherwise.