Top 50 Texas Holdem Hands

Starting Hand Selection:Chen Formula : Sklansky Starting Hand Groups

Texas Holdem Hand Rankings Preflop

  1. Known affectionately as American Airlines, pocket rockets, or simply the bullets, a wired pair of aces is the top starting hand in all of Texas holdem. As you can see, bringing aces to battle against nine random hands gives you nearly a one third chance of winding up the winner.
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In Texas Holdem, it is important to have good starting hand selection. Karl casino 50 free spins. This is important as it prevents you from entering pots with sub-standard hands, which could eventually lead to you losing a lot of money in the process.

'Starting hand selection' is simply choosing the good hands over the bad, and thus folding the bad hands when you get them.

It is true that any hand can win in Texas Holdem (or poker in general for that matter), but the fact of the matter is that some hands will win more than others. So if we stick with the good hands, then we should see better results in the long run.

Basic starting hand selection.

Top tier starting hands - top 2% of starting hands.

Good Texas Holdem starting hands are typically hands like big pocket pairs and big connecting cards. So some of the top starting hands would be:

  • AA
  • KK
  • QQ
  • AKs

The little ’s’ indicates that the cards are suited, which will increase the value of the cards because it makes it more likely that they will be able to make a flush compared to if the cards were not suited.

This is obviously the top tier when it comes to starting hands, and if we were to only ever be dealt these starting hands we would be making a lot of money. In fact, if we folded every other hand that we were dealt and only played these hands, there is a fair chance that we would be winning money in the long run. But this would only work at the lower limits where other players probably wouldn’t be aware that we only play premium hands.

Second tier starting hands.

If we only ever played with this elite group of cards, we would be folding numerous hands along the way and missing out on other opportunities to win money. Even though these are the cream of the crop when it comes to starting hands, there are still other great hands out there that can win us a lot of money in the long run if we play them.

Such hands are:

  • AK
  • AQs
  • AJs
  • JJ
  • TT

This gives us another 6 starting hands that we can play with, increasing the number of pots that we will be entering. Although these are not as good as the first set of premium hands mentioned, they are still great starting hands that should help us to win money.

Top 10 Texas Hold’em starting hands.

Now if we stick with this set of 10 starting hands we should definitely by on the right track to winning some money from poker. So for any player new to the game you should try your best to stick to the following top 10 hands (also throwing in some of top 20 hands if you have good position):

  1. A A
  2. K K
  3. Q Q
  4. A K (suited)
  5. A Q (suited)
  6. J J
  7. K Q (suited)
  8. A J (suited)
  9. A K
  10. T T
Top 20 starting hands.
  1. A T (suited)
  2. K J (suited)
  3. A Q
  4. 9 9
  5. Q J (suited)
  6. K T (suited)
  7. 8 8
  8. Q T (suited)
  9. A 9 (suited)
  10. A J

These hands can be played profitable from most positions by experienced players, but you should only play these hands from late position if there has been no action before you (no betting or raising) if you are still learning the basics.

As your game improves, you can look to open up your starting hand requirements and require more marginal hands like suited connectors. However, if you’re new to the game you are better off sticking with the big cards that hit bigger flops and make post-flop play a hell of a lot easier for you.

Starting hand selection and table position.

Your table position should always play a big role in determining the range of hands that you choose to play with.

You should stick to playing much stronger hands from early position than you would from late position.

This means that if you are in one of the early position seats, you should stick to playing the top two tiers of hands and avoid lesser hands like; AQo, AJs, AT, KQs and so on. Conversely, if you are in late position and there has been little action before you, you can afford to play these sort of hands far more comfortably.

Why is table position important in starting hand selection?

If you are one of the first to act in a hand, you are going to be at a serious disadvantage to the rest of the players who are acting after you. Therefore, to avoid making things worse, you do not want to be entering a pot with anything less than a premium hand.

Acting first means that you are going to have little information on your opponents. If you are playing with a mediocre hand, it is likely that you are going to be in a spot where you have no idea whether you have the best hand or not. These situations are the ones that lose you the most money in poker, so avoid falling into them by playing stronger hands from early position that will make it easier to determine whether or not you have the best hand.

The importance of starting hand selection.

Starting hand selection is key because it helps to save us from sticky situations post flop, especially if we are new to the game.

Starting hand selection example.

Say for example we are not exercising very good starting hand selection and we decide to call a raise with K T. The flop then comes K 8 2 giving us top pair, which looks like a very strong hand. Our opponent bets into us and we decide to call, because after all we do have top pair.

The turn comes a 4, and our opponent bets once again. We have top pair and we call seeing as we are still happy with the strength of our hand.

The river comes a 7, and our opponent bets into us one final time. We make the call with our top pair thinking we might still have the best hand, but our opponent turns over K Q.

He also has a pair of Kings but he has the higher kicker, so he takes down the pot.

Starting hand selection example evaluation.

This is an all too common problem for poker beginners, and it could have been so easily avoided by being a little stricter with our starting hand selection. Having top pair is great, but all so often an opponent can easily beat it with a better kicker. This is why it is important to have two big cards instead of one, because the size of our kicker can play a vital role in determining who the winner of the pot will be.

You are dealt two cards in Texas Hold’em; make sure that they are both good cards before you enter a pot. An ace with a low kicker is going to lose you more money than it wins.

Don’t be tempted to call raises or enter pots with hands like A4 (rag aces) or K7, because they will just get you into more trouble than they are worth. Make sure that you are the one with the better kicker every time and take the money from the players who are entering the pots with weaker hands than you.

It is actually reasonable to bring down our starting hand requirements if we have good position. Position will give us an advantage over our opponents if we are last to act, so we do not necessarily have to have such a strong hand to play with because will be obtaining information from the way our opponent plays because they will be acting first.

Top 50 Texas Holdem Hands

This information and knowledge of our opponent’s hand from the way they play will compensate for the fact that our starting hand is a little weaker than normal. However, we still have to be prepared to fold as having position does not guarantee that we will win the hand, it simply gives an advantage. It is advised that you only enter pots with weaker hands in position once you have become a little more experienced.


As you continue to play poker and gain experience from the game, it is a good idea to start expanding your starting hand requirements and experimenting here and there. However, if you are new to the game it is strongly advised that you stick to the big cards so that you give yourself the best opportunity to win money from poker.

If you are entering pots with a poor hand, you should be expecting to see poor results.

Go back to the awesome Texas Hold'em Strategy.

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A pair of aces is the best pre-flop hand in Texas Hold'em Poker

In the poker game of Texas hold 'em, a starting hand consists of two hole cards, which belong solely to the player and remain hidden from the other players. Five community cards are also dealt into play. Betting begins before any of the community cards are exposed, and continues throughout the hand. The player's 'playing hand', which will be compared against that of each competing player, is the best 5-card poker hand available from his two hole cards and the five community cards. Unless otherwise specified, here the term hand applies to the player's two hole cards, or starting hand.

  • 2Limit hand rankings


There are 1326 distinct possible combinations of two hole cards from a standard 52-card deck in hold 'em, but since suits have no relative value in this poker variant, many of these hands are identical in value before the flop. For example, AJ and AJ are identical in value, because each is a hand consisting of an ace and a jack of the same suit.

Therefore, there are 169 non-equivalent starting hands in hold 'em, which is the sum total of : 13 pocket pairs, 13 × 12 / 2 = 78 suited hands and 78 unsuited hands (13 + 78 + 78 = 169).

These 169 hands are not equally likely. Hold 'em hands are sometimes classified as having one of three 'shapes':

  • Pairs, (or 'pocket pairs'), which consist of two cards of the same rank (e.g. 99). One hand in 17 will be a pair, each occurring with individual probability 1/221 (P(pair) = 3/51 = 1/17).

An alternative means of making this calculation

First Step As confirmed above.

There are 2652 possible combination of opening hand.

Second Step

There are 6 different combos of each pair. 9h9c, 9h9s, 9h9d, 9c9s, 9c9d, 9d9s

To calculate the odds of being dealt a pair

Texas Hold'em Hands Rank

2652 (possible opening hands) divided by 12 (the number of any particular pair being dealt. As above)

2652/12 = 221

  • Suited hands, which contain two cards of the same suit (e.g. A6). Four hands out of 17 will be suited, and each suited configuration occurs with probability 2/663 (P(suited) = 12/51 = 4/17).
  • Offsuit hands, which contain two cards of a different suit and rank (e.g. KJ). Twelve out of 17 hands will be nonpair, offsuit hands, each of which occurs with probability 2/221 (P(offsuit non-pair) = 3*(13-1)/51 = 12/17).

It is typical to abbreviate suited hands in hold 'em by affixing an 's' to the hand, as well as to abbreviate non-suited hands with an 'o' (for offsuit). That is,

QQ represents any pair of queens,
KQ represents any king and queen,
AKo represents any ace and king of different suits, and
JTs represents any jack and ten of the same suit.

There are 25 starting hands with a probability of winning at a 10-handed table of greater than 1/7.[1]

Limit hand rankings[edit]

Some notable theorists and players have created systems to rank the value of starting hands in limit Texas hold'em. These rankings do not apply to no limit play.

Sklansky hand groups[edit]

David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth[2] assigned in 1999 each hand to a group, and proposed all hands in the group could normally be played similarly. Stronger starting hands are identified by a lower number. Hands without a number are the weakest starting hands. As a general rule, books on Texas hold'em present hand strengths starting with the assumption of a nine or ten person table. The table below illustrates the concept:

Chen formula[edit]

The 'Chen Formula' is a way to compute the 'power ratings' of starting hands that was originally developed by Bill Chen.[3]

Highest Card
Based on the highest card, assign points as follows:
Ace = 10 points, K = 8 points, Q = 7 points, J = 6 points.
10 through 2, half of face value (10 = 5 points, 9 = 4.5 points, etc.)

Best Texas Holdem Free Online

For pairs, multiply the points by 2 (AA=20, KK=16, etc.), with a minimum of 5 points for any pair. 55 is given an extra point (i.e., 6).

Texas Holdem Starting Hand Percentages

Add 2 points for suited cards.
Subtract 1 point for 1 gappers (AQ, J9)
2 points for 2 gappers (J8, AJ).
4 points for 3 gappers (J7, 73).
5 points for larger gappers, including A2 A3 A4
Add an extra point if connected or 1-gap and your highest card is lower than Q (since you then can make all higher straights)

Phil Hellmuth's: 'Play Poker Like the Pros'[edit]

Phil Hellmuth's 'Play Poker Like the Pros' book published in 2003.

1AA, KK, AKs, QQ, AKTop 12 Hands
2JJ, TT, 99
388, 77, AQs, AQ
466, 55, 44, 33, 22, AJs, ATs, A9s, A8sMajority Play Hands
5A7s, A6s, A5s, A4s, A3s, A2s, KQs, KQ
6QJs, JTs, T9s, 98s, 87s, 76s, 65sSuited Connectors

Statistics based on real online play[edit]

Statistics based on real play with their associated actual value in real bets.[4]

TierHandsExpected Value
1AA, KK, QQ, JJ, AKs2.32 - 0.78
2AQs, TT, AK, AJs, KQs, 990.59 - 0.38
3ATs, AQ, KJs, 88, KTs, QJs0.32 - 0.20
4A9s, AJ, QTs, KQ, 77, JTs0.19 - 0.15
5A8s, K9s, AT, A5s, A7s0.10 - 0.08
6KJ, 66, T9s, A4s, Q9s0.08 - 0.05
7J9s, QJ, A6s, 55, A3s, K8s, KT0.04 - 0.01
898s, T8s, K7s, A2s0.00
987s, QT, Q8s, 44, A9, J8s, 76s, JT(-) 0.02 - 0.03

Nicknames for starting hands[edit]

In poker communities, it is common for hole cards to be given nicknames. While most combinations have a nickname, stronger handed nicknames are generally more recognized, the most notable probably being the 'Big Slick' - Ace and King of the same suit, although an Ace-King of any suit combination is less occasionally referred to as an Anna Kournikova, derived from the initials AK and because it 'looks really good but rarely wins.'[5][6] Hands can be named according to their shapes (e.g., paired aces look like 'rockets', paired jacks look like 'fish hooks'); a historic event (e.g., A's and 8's - dead man's hand, representing the hand held by Wild Bill Hickok when he was fatally shot in the back by Jack McCall in 1876); many other reasons like animal names, alliteration and rhyming are also used in nicknames.


  1. ^No-Limit Texas Hold'em by Angel Largay
  2. ^David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth (1999). Hold 'em Poker for Advanced Players. Two Plus Two Publications. ISBN1-880685-22-1
  3. ^Hold'em Excellence: From Beginner to Winner by Lou Krieger, Chapter 5, pages 39 - 43, Second Edition
  4. ^
  5. ^Aspden, Peter (2007-05-19). 'FT Weekend Magazine - Non-fiction: Stakes and chips Las Vegas and the internet have helped poker become the biggest game in town'. Financial Times. Retrieved 2010-01-10.
  6. ^Martain, Tim (2007-07-15). 'A little luck helps out'. Sunday Tasmanian. Retrieved 2010-01-10.

Texas Holdem Starting Hands

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