Best Starting Hands in Texas Holdem, Part One


Aug 2008

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Have you been wondering what the best starting hands are in Texas Holdem? If you are like most people who are just beginning to play Holdem Poker you will probably start by looking for advice on how to play Holdem from the very beginning – that is, how you should be betting based on the starting hand or ‘hole cards’ that you have been dealt. This is a good question to be asking, but the answer is likely to be far more complicated than you think because of the number of factors that go into making such decisions.

The first and most critical thing to know when evaluating starting hands is how many opponents you are playing against. This piece of information is so crucial that you cannot even begin to calculate your odds of winning without it. If you are playing heads-up, that is, against only a single opponent your odds of winning with certain hole cards are nearly triple what they would be if playing against nine other people. If you take nothing else from this article then learn this important lesson. Taking into account the number of people you are playing against is absolutely vital when determining your odds of winning with any given set of hole cards. To see the proof of this, take a look at this table showing the five best pairs of hole cards for Texas Holdem;

Texas Holdem Starting Hands

Notice that although the number of players in the hand is a key piece of any odds analysis, you can quickly get a sense of the relative value of a particular hand, that is to say how well that hand will perform compared to all other hands. At the same time we caution you not to take such information out of context and to definitely study all the other facets of pre-flop play, many of which we present in separate articles.

When you ask what the best starting hands are in Texas Holdem, you are asking a very specific and limited question since so many other considerations come into play. Yet despite the narrow focus of the question, the identification of the best starting hands is indeed something that’s very important to do, and understanding why such hands are considered valuable is is no less important. In order to determine the best starting hands, we will go through an exercise in Part Two that one can refer to as No-foldem Holdem. No-foldem is a term that others have used in several different ways, and at least some people use it to describe a Texas Holdem game in which no fewer than four people stay in long enough to see the flop.