In order to become a winning player you need to understand starting hand selection. Playing the wrong type of hands can end up costing you quite a bit of money. Certain poker hands have more value than others. It is important to learn which hands you should play, and which hands you should fold.
The Best Hands: Always Good To Raise With
There are certain starting hands that are always good. It does not matter what your position is, if you are dealt these hands you should play them. These hands are large pocket pairs and Ace King.
Tens, Jacks, Queens, Kings, Aces, and Ace King.
These hands are playable from any position. If you are dealt one of these hands you are a likely to be ahead of everyone else at the table. You should raise with these hands.
The only exception is when you are playing against a super tight player. If you are dealt a pair of Tens, and a very tight player raises you all in preflop, then you should probably fold. However, when up against normal players, these 6 hands are very strong.
Good Hands: Usually Good To Raise With
The next set of hands is going to be small pocket pairs. Small pocket pairs should be played for two reasons. The first is that you have a pair, which is usually the best hand. Second, even if the other person has a better hand you might hit a set and win their entire stack.
The tricky aspect of playing small pocket pairs is that you do not want to get a lot of money in preflop. If someone makes a raise from early position, then you should flat call. There is no sense in re-raising with a small pocket pair. If they call, the pot is big and there will often be two or three overcards to your pair. If you call, instead of raising, then you can cheaply see a flop and possibly hit a set.
Hands You Should Sometimes Play
This last category is a group of hands that you should often play. They are not as good as pocket pairs, but they still have value. These hands are suited connectors. These hands have the ability to make straights, flushes, or two pair.
You have to play these hands with the understanding that you are usually behind an opponents opening range. The benefit of a suited connector is that it is disguised. If you have a hand such as 7c8c, and the flop comes 5c7d8h, then you are in a good spot against someone who has an overpair. You have two pair, as well as backdoor straight and flush draws.
- Tens-Aces and Ace King: Strong hands. Play them from any position.
- Pocket Pairs smaller than Tens. Good hands. Raise or Call a raise. Never Re-Raise. You want to flop sets with these hands.
- Suited Connectors: Good hands. Try and see the flop cheaply with these hands. You can often crack big hands with a disguised two pair or flush.