The game of Texas Hold’em poker takes minutes to learn, but there’s so much going on during an actual hand that it can take many years before a player is good enough to win consistently. It all starts with the first two cards. Knowing when to play and when to skip on a hand is the first crucial step to winning at Texas Hold’em poker. Today, I am going to run down a series of starting hands and what you should think about doing when you get them. This list assumes that you are playing at a table with seven or more players and that you are somewhat new to the game of Poker.
The Big Hands
If you receive any of the following four hands, you should raise when it’s your turn to bet. If someone raised the pot already then re-raise.
The four big hands are: AA, KK, QQ and AK.
The Limp Hands
If you find yourself with an upper level pair of eights, nines, tens or Jacks, you want to limp in the pot, which means to simply call the minimum bet. However, if someone has raised the pot, you want to consider folding. You are most likely beat. Some players will limp in with any pair, some with pairs of fours or higher and so forth. This is something you will figure out for yourself.
There are times when you will want to limp in with hands that can possibly pay off. Normally, you will play these hands when you are in the blinds or late position (one of the last to act). If the pot gets raised, fold.
These hands are: AQ, AJ, AT, KQ, KJ, QJ, and possibly JT. If these hands are suited, their value goes up, because you gain the possibility of a flush or straight flush.
Many newer players get in trouble with some of these hands, because they get face card envy. Learn when to lay down hands and your profits will go up. If you have a hand that is not listed here, it should most likely be folded. There are times, when on the button, where you might want to play something like a 65s (suited). However, playing too many junk hands will milk away your chips. At first, you want to play tight. As you learn the game of Poker, open up and expand your playing ability.