Poker Starting Hands

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Online poker is one of the most popular casino games played on the Internet today. It is easy to see why, after all, poker is the eponymous casino card game. Since the rise of online poker from the early 2000s onwards, the game has increased in popularity and given many more people who do not own a poker set to try their hand at the game. The increase in accessibility and demand was so great that players became able to qualify for the World Series of Poker through online tournaments and this has become a common route of qualification.

Before you get that far though, you will of course want to understand the basics. This starts from, you guessed it, the start, with the cards you are dealt with at the beginning of the game. Understanding what makes good poker starting hands is pivotal to becoming a strong player and managing your bankroll successfully. This is because if you charge into the game raising on bad cards, you will waste your chips betting on cards very unlikely to land you a win. More on the best poker hands here!

Texas Hold’em vs. Omaha Poker

Live casino poker starting hands differ across different versions of poker. For instance, in Omaha poker four hole cards are dealt to each player, whereas in Texas hold’em you are dealt just two cards at the start of the game. This article will focus on the most popular form of the game, Texas hold’em, and its opening two cards. While much of the information one can garner about poker strategy can be picked up intuitively while playing the game, having the guidance contextualised and seeing it written down can help you adopt your poker casino games strategy more stringently, and ultimately lead to greater success.

What are the Best Poker Starting Hands?

Winning poker hands begin with your starting cards, and it is therefore important to know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em, as the late Kenny Rogers once said. There are two main types of hands which should catch your eye when you are dealt your starting cards at

#1 High Cards

Winning poker hands are often decided by who has the highest cards. Whether it be because two players both have the same hand (for example, a flush), or because the final players do not have any winning poker hands at all, high cards will come into play. In the former situation, if one player has a flush containing diamonds of King, Jack, 8, 5 and 2, and another has a flush containing spades of Queen, 10, 7, 5, 4 and 2, the former will win as the King ranks higher than the Queen. In the scenario of none of the players having any hands at all, whoever holds the highest card wins. The highest card may be a card which is on the table for both players, but then this would cycle down and eventually be decided by the highest card in one of the player’s hands. With this in mind, if you have an Ace in your starting hand, you have a reason to smile (internally that is – poker faces on!). Discover and play card games here!

#2 Pairs

Poker hands are built up over the course of the game as the rounds ascend through the flop, the turn, and the river. However, with the two cards in the hole there is only one winning poker hand initially possible – a pair. Whilst pairs are the lowest ranking hands, they can still often land you wins, particularly if they form part of a greater combination later, such as two pair or three of a kind. Therefore, landing a pair in your starting cards is a strong start and a reason to be cheerful. In tandem with the previous point, higher-ranking pairs are better. A pair of aces in the hole should always lead you to raising on the first round, whereas a pair of 2s is less to be excited by – and this is where things get a little more strategic beyond the first impressions of our starting hands.

Is my Poker Starting Hand Good Enough?

Both high cards and pairs should be played with caution, as there is still a lot more to consider when choosing whether to fold, call or raise on your opening hand. One important thing to note is whether your starting hand is suited or off-suited. If you have relatively high cards such as a King and a 9, they are worth far more if they are of the same suit. This is because of the likelihood of being able to form a flush later on, one of the best poker hands which consists of five cards of the same suit. So, if your King is a diamond and your 9 is clubs, for example, then it is much less worth betting on the pre-flop and you may being doing yourself a favour folding.

Regarding pairs in the hole, as we mentioned, low pairs are often nothing to shout about. Because the likelihood of turning your low pair into a three of a kind on the flop is relatively low, it is often better to fold if you are sitting on a pair of 2s, particularly against experienced players. If you stick it out with your pair of 2s it is very likely that another player will have picked up a better hand by the end.

The Importance of your Position at the Table

Poker starting hands, in the eyes of some advanced poker players, are far less important compared to your position at the table. While this may seem unimportant to beginners, it explains one reason why the Big Blind and Small Blind is rotated throughout the game. Typically, if you are in an early position, that is, once the cards are dealt you are one of the first players to bet, you want to stick to raising with big hands only. As you are later in the order you can raise with slightly weaker combinations like high off-suit hands or low pairs. This is because the play goes round you can learn a lot about what each player is likely to have in their starting hand from how they have bet, informing your confidence in your own cards.

So, this is just a brief introduction to a brief part of the game – those opening moments. Those opening moments, however, are critical, and if you can master when to raise and when to lay your cards down and count yourself out for the round, you will see great success with your poker playing.

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