Poker Starting Hands

So many beginner players ask for a poker starting hands chart or "which hands do I play in which situations"?

Well the truth is that it depends. I know that sounds like an easy answer to give but it really depends on the table that you're sat at. It depends on how well the others play, are they tight or loose, tricky or straight forward, are you in early or late position, what is your image like at the table?

These are all questions that you should ask yourself before you decide to play a hand and as you improve, will start go through subconciously.

So to get you started on a tight aggressive path, with a solid poker starting hands strategy we will go through a range of hands that you can play in each position (except the blinds as that'll take a whole seperate lesson) at a 6max, cash poker game, when you are the first person to enter the pot.



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Under The Gun (UTG)

Under the gun means you are the very first player to act pre flop and because of this, you want a very, VERY tight range of hands in this position. You want to stick to premium hands because you dont yet have any idea of your opponents strength and playing out of position post flop is the hardest thing to do in poker and you want to avoid it as much as you can.

I'll play all pocket pairs for a raise in this position from 22-AA. I'll play AK,AQ,AJ and KQs for a raise also but will not stay in the hand with KQ,AQ or AJ or pairs from 22-TT if faced with a re-raise in most cases. The main reason for this is that if most people are raising your under the gun raise, then they are normally very strong. The only exceptions to this are if you have a good read on a player being very loose and aggressive who just loves action. Again these are guide lines/ training wheels to get you started, there is no one size fits all in poker because the table dynamics really will have a huge inpact on how and what you can play.

UTG+1

UTG+1 (one seat along from being under the gun) is much the same as being UTG in as much as you're going to have to play out of position post flop which is just somewhere that we don't want to be unless we have a good hand that is.

We can play a few more hands though if it's folded to us as seen in the starting hands chart above but not too many more.

The Cut Off

The cut off is the seat next to the dealer button and as you'll see from the chart enables you to play a much wider range of hands (more hands). The main reason is because you have seen the first couple of players act which means it's less likely that anyone has a very strong hand (three players are just less likely than five). Also, after the flop gets dealt (post flop) you'll have relative position in the hand against the remaining players (especially if the player on the dealer button folds) to decide where to take the pot. Having position in a hand means that you have more information available to you which should help you make better decisions against your opponents.

The Dealer Button

The dealer button is the holy grail of positions at the poker table and thus enables you to play a super wide range of hands. Now you would make adjustments to this range based on any action that has happend before things get to you (i.e you probably won't play A2 if a tight player has raised UTG).

One thing that should be clear to you just from a visual understanding of the game is the concept of position and just how important that is to being a succesful poker player. There is a dramatic increase in hands that you can play from UTG to the button.

Our next lesson will be on playing out of the blinds as that warrents it's own dedicated article as there are so many more variables to take into consideration.

Good Luck

Brokerstar & Alex

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