Master The Best Texas Hold’em Starting Hands – Top 10 List

Master The Best Texas Hold’em Starting Hands – Top 10 List

Texas Hold’em is a relatively simple game at first sight, and it all starts with your preflop cards, whose proper selection will set you up for the rest of the hand. 

Playing too many starting hands in poker is one of the biggest flaws of many inexperienced players who are often too eager to get into the action. 

In this article, we will teach you about the top 10 Texas Hold’em starting hands you will want to get involved with and that will win you the most in your poker games. 

#1 – Pocket Aces (AA)

There are few more exhilarating experiences in the game of Texas Hold’em poker than looking down at pocket Aces and knowing you have the absolute best hand in the game. 

The best starting hand in poker, Pocket Aces

Of course, Aces are only the best hand before the flop, but they are so superior to all other hands that picking them up is definitely a reason to celebrate. 

When you do look at pocket Aces in the hole, it is important to remain calm and give nothing away, which can be a bit difficult given the excitement. 

Keep a cool head, wait for the action to get to you, assess the situation, and only then proceed to make your move. 

When you hold AA, it is important not to go too crazy and make a massive raise that will force everyone else to fold, but also not to just call and let all the other players into the pot. 

Make your raises with pocket Aces similar to those you would make with other holdings, and wait for someone to play back at you with a weaker hand before the flop. 

If this does not happen, also keep in mind that pocket Aces are not invincible, and be willing to give your cards up on particularly bad boards against a lot of aggression. 

#2 – Pocket Kings (KK)

Similarly to pocket Aces, pocket Kings are a true powerhouse in Texas Hold’em but not nearly as powerful as the highest pair in poker. 

The main problem with KK, of course, is that a single Ace on the board can easily allow many other hands to beat you, making it a hand that requires an even more protective poker strategy

For that reason, you will want to play your Kings even more aggressively before the flop so as to ensure that weak hands with an Ace such as A9 or A6 don’t even get to see a flop. 

Of course, you will still have to go up against hands like AQ or AJ many times, but those hands will often hit their other card on the flop and allow you to win a big pot. 

Pocket Kings are extremely powerful because they have the same equity against all under pairs as pocket Aces, which means you will absolutely dominate when faced with QQ, JJ, or TT.

Pocket Kings are far from unbeatable, but the equity they have against the majority of the range your opponents can hold makes it a hand you can comfortably play for stacks before the flop if anyone is willing. 

#3 – Pocket Queens (QQ)

Pocket Queens is a top starting hand in poker

The next best pair in Texas Hold’em Poker is a pair of Queens, which has all the properties of KK and AA, except for the fact two overcards exist and can beat it. 

In most situations in poker, you will be more than happy to get a lot of action before the flop when holding QQ, as there are so few hands that actually beat it. 

However, this hand will often get into confrontations with AK, its eternal nemesis, and seeing an Ace or a King on the flop will often slow you down quite a bit. 

Queens is a hand that’s definitely worth a raise and a re-raise in nearly every situation, but one that may be problematic when facing 4-bets from relatively tight players. 

In poker tournaments, you will almost always be happy to get your chips into the middle with QQ, as a player with 50 bb or less should have no problem playing for stacks with it. 

On the other hand, when you get QQ in a cash game, make sure you know who you are up against before you put too much money into the pot preflop. 

#4 – Ace-King (AK)

Theoretically speaking, AK is a weaker hand than QQ because the pair has a slight mathematical advantage when the two go head-to-head for all the money. 

However, most poker hands don’t end preflop, and Ace-King has a lot more playability after the flop than Queens, as it can both hit big and be used as a bluff in many scenarios. 

The hand is considered a powerhouse in Texas Hold’em, and you will see professional players play it very aggressively in almost every situation, especially when the hand is suited. 

On the other hand, novice players often have problems playing AK properly, as they are afraid of missing the board and being left with nothing but Ace-high. 

However, by playing your AK aggressively preflop, you will allow yourself to win big pots when you hit and also represent a hand like AA or KK (both of which you block) after the flop is dealt. 

#5 – Pocket Jacks (JJ)

Another very strong poker hand that often gets less credit than it should is pocket Jacks, as the pair can get quite tricky to play at times. 

In recent times, the internet poker community has been making quite a few jokes about pocket Jacks, with the running theme being that “there is no right way to play pocket Jacks.”

However, this is not true, as pocket Jacks are a proven winner in the hands of any competent poker player, and you should learn how to play them for maximum value as well. 

The real problem with JJ is that many players are afraid to play this hand in the right way and will often play it timidly, forcing them to fold to aggression. 

The next time you get JJ in your poker game, start out by playing aggressively but don’t look to commit hundreds of big blinds before the flop. 

One exception to this rule is when you are facing maniacs in live poker games, in which case you can consider your pocket Jacks as good as pocket Kings. 

Of course, you will lose with JJ more often than you would with AA or KK, but that’s completely fine, as no hands in poker can compare with those monsters. 

Pocket Jacks is a great poker hand

#6 – Ace-Queen (AQ)

The next poker hand you rarely want to fold before the flop is Ace-Queen. This unpaired hand rates very highly and can win a lot of big pots, but it does run a few risks. 

For one, AQ can often get into confrontations with AK, AA, and KK, in which case many boards will cost you a lot of money. On the other hand, AQ also dominates many other hands like AJ, AQ, KQ, and QJ, and facing these hands will allow you to win a big pot. 

So, instead of being afraid of your AQ, try playing it more appropriately the next time and look to play against the hands that you dominate. 

This means that you should sometimes just call raises from early positions instead of re-raise, and you should sometimes fold when you get 4-bet after 3-betting. 

Of course, you can’t exactly fold your AQ to every 4-bet you face, but when facing one from an average opponent who is not too aggressive, especially out of position, you may be better off letting it go and waiting for a better situation. 

#7 – Pocket Tens (TT)

We are not getting into the territory of weaker poker hands that aren’t quite as delightful to see as AA, KK, or AK, but are still in the top 10 Texas Hold’em starting hands. 

Pocket Tens is a pair that rates to be best quite often, especially in shorter handed poker games, but one that’s also often beat preflop or on the flop. 

Playing aggressively to start things off with TT is smart, as it allows you to win some pots preflop and eliminate opponents with weak hands that have a lot of equity against you, like Q9 or J8. 

However, once the flop comes, pocket Tens will often turn into somewhat of a bluff catcher, as you will be forced to call bets on boards with overcards on them. 

Playing pocket Tens will require some tact and balancing, but should be quite lucrative with some well-timed aggression and some properly made folds. 

#8 – Pocket Nines (99)

The last pocket pair in this list of the top 10 starting hands in Texas Hold’em rates just under those in the Broadway region, pocket Nines. 

Pocket Nines is a hand that often wins big pots, even unimproved, and one that is often worth getting all the money in with when playing a tournament. 

For instance, sitting on a 30 big blind stack and facing a 3-bet from the blinds, you will be more than happy to get your stack into the middle with 99. 

Yet, playing in a deep-stack cash game, pocket Nines will begin to look a lot less appealing when facing huge preflop raises, as it’s a hand more fit for set-mining and bluff-catching in this scenario. 

Don’t go too crazy with 99 when you have a lot of big blinds to start the hand with, but also think about its value and power in shallower situations where the risk of running into an over-pair is not as significant. 

#9 – Ace-Jack (AJ)

Ace-Jack is a strong starting hand from late position

AJ suited is a very powerful poker hand, while the off-suit variation is one of the first instances of a strong hand that can even be open-folded from early positions. 

Yet, as you get into the later positions, both AJs and AJ are hands well worth putting in some aggressive actions with, as they rate to be better than many of the hands other players will open from later positions. 

While AJ is a hand that’s playable in many scenarios, it is also one you should not fall in love with too much and one that should be played carefully even when you do hit a top pair. 

#10 – King-Queen (KQ)

While quite a few hands, such as A9, A7, or even 44, are equity favorites in a confrontation against KQ, the hand’s connected nature allows it to make our list of the top 10 Texas Hold’em poker starting hands. 

King-Queen, especially of the suited variety, is a hand that can be played as both a powerful value hand and a strong bluff, depending on the situation. 

When entering the pot first, you will rate to have the best hand with KQ very often. When faced with a raise, you will still have the best hand quite often but will be up against Ace-high hands on many occasions. 

However, by playing KQ aggressively preflop and continuing to build on that aggression on many favorable flops, you should be able to break quite a hefty profit. 

King-Queen suited is a strong starting hand in both tournaments and cash games and will make you many strong poker hands, but many amateur poker players significantly underplay it.

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