Starting Hand Selection In Hold’em

Hold’em is a widely renowned game that is famous for providing a thrilling experience to players. It is a very straightforward game, and yet it takes years to master its moves and tricks.

A prevalent dilemma that has been observed amongst poker players is the decision regarding flop. Every poker player questions themselves regarding whether they should see the flop or let it go.

If you have the same question, hold onto this article to scrutinize this problem in detail. This lesson will also shed some light on the starting card selection and the reasoning behind whether to keep the cards or fold the cards.

Basic Insights

In the world of Hold’em, you will be able to find around 169 initial hand combinations. This number is derived after applying all the permutations and combinations so that there are no recurring entries. 

After the cards are dealt, you will have to check the status of your hand. If you do not find a pair in your cards, the situation will be down to four options. 

The Initial Hands

To make it simpler, here are the different variations of initial hands that can get dealt to you.


If you receive the same cards from different suits, they will be termed as pairs.

Suited Connectors

If you receive two adjacent cards of the same suit, they will be termed as suited connectors.


If you receive two adjacent cards but from different suits, they will be termed as connectors or connecting cards.

Suited Unconnected Cards

If you receive two cards from the same suit with a gap between them, they will be termed as suited unconnected cards.

Unconnected Cards

If you receive two cards from different suits with a gap between them, they will be termed as unconnected cards.

The amount of gap between unconnected cards determines the odds of hitting a straight. The wider the gap, the more difficult it gets to beat the odds.

The Best Initial Hands In Hold’em

There are a few hands that have been given the status of premium hands in the game. The odds of attaining these hands are bleak, and therefore, they are given the highest priority in the game. The rules of the game may differ from region to region.

AA or KK (Pair of Aces or Pair of Kings)

A pair of aces or kings are given the first pedestal in the game. These pairs don’t show up often, and therefore their exclusivity earns them their superior position. If you look at the statistics, the odds of getting either of these pairs is 1 to 110. 

However, it would be best if you always remembered that this does not mean a definite loss. A pair of Aces and Kings can be countered as they do not perform well against certain combinations. Even if your opponent is highly confident, you can test the waters by playing a couple of hands.

This combination gives the player a vantage point, but it does not ensure a victory under any circumstances.


Queens and Jacks hold immense importance at the beginning of the game. A pair of either of them will offer you a stellar headstart as the odds of your loss are significantly truncated. These pairs fall short in front of only one category: A pair of Aces or Kings.

If you have a pair of any of these cards, your position will be formidable. In such a case, you should raise the pot and play for the win.

The second constituent of this category is the Ace-King combination. It is a renowned combination with the solid image of a big slick.

This combination is not a direct winning hand like a top tier pair, but it stands tall against plenty of other varieties. If it is suited, it holds even more authority. You must play a few hands with this combination as it will ensure decent odds to win.

TT, AK, AQs, AJs, KQs

All the above mentioned suits also offer the players a great incentive to play. These cards are efficient against many other suited and unsuited combinations, and thus you must level the field with a few hands.

Most players tend to flow with the momentum and end up losing with these cards. If you see that your opponent is matching every raise, you should think before every bet. 

Suited Cards

A big chunk of novice players usually falls into a common trap of placing bets if they receive suited cards. It is a known fact that some suited card combinations are decent, but it does not mean that you play each time.

If you look at the odds, the percentage of winning when you have two suited cards with no apparent combinations is a very menial figure of 0.8%

The decision of playing a specific hand lies with the player, and thus you should assess your cards correctly. If you see some possible winning moves, there is no harm in doing a rain check.

Kicker Issues

The smaller card amongst your dealt cards is called the kicker. Kicker cards are played with bigger cards such as Aces and Kings, but they do not reap a considerable amount of benefit. These hands require finesse, and you should not try them until you have learned the technique of Ace Junk. If you are a regular Hold’em player, you will be able to gauge many skills from the people who play with you. You will also gain maturity with more playing experience.

Table Conditions

The initial hands of Hold’em depending on certain factors, and therefore, you will have to be mindful of every tiny detail. Here are some things that will define your initial trajectory.

The Crowd

The count of people playing the game holds critical value in your opening strategy. The table starts with around 8-10 players, and therefore the odds of someone getting a better hand are high. This stance is changed when there is a fewer number of players.

It would help if you modulated your strategy according to the timeline of the table. A combination of KJ might not be potent with ten players, but it holds a much better chance with four players.


A player’s position on the poker table is a critical juncture that needs to be scrutinized for planning effective strategies. If you have a position that allows you to play later, it will give you a big head start. You will be able to decide your move after assessing the hands of others.

The art of using your position to its fullest position is called positional play. You will get better at it with more experience, and therefore it is okay to experiment with some hands. It is vital to have solid opening strategies from several positions to be prepared for the worst.

A Raised Pot

A raised pot is an entry ticket to gauge insights about the players’ cards. If someone raises the pot, you should redefine your stance and think wisely before every move. The confidence of a reasonable player will help you to understand the quality of their cards.

Many players bluff with the raises to give out a pseudo-winning position. It will be best if you can observe their moves and then come up with a defense strategy.

Starting Hand Charts

As we mentioned in the beginning, Hold Em’ has plenty of combinations, and it is difficult to remember all of them. If you have started playing poker recently, referring to starting hand charts will be the most sensible option.

There are many charts on the internet according to the variation of the game that you are playing. You can select any of them for reference and then map your strategies. It will also give you many insights about starting hands and other consequent moves.

Summing Up

Hold’em is a very strategic game that requires patience and focus. In the beginning, players make the general mistake of playing every hand without a concrete plan. 

A good Hold’em player waits for the best combination and then strikes the table. However, this experience comes with thousands of games and hours of commitment. 

Check out the other articles on our website if you are interested in the game of poker! The more you learn, the more you win!

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