Picking your starting hands in Texas Holdem is one of the most important and potentially profitable things you can do. Here’s a guideline of some premium hands you could consider playing no matter what your position, courtesy of Phil Hellmuth’s fantastic book Play Poker like the Pros.
When I read Phil Hellmuth’s Play Poker Like the Pros, I was struck by the simple, basic strategy that he gave for newbie players like I was at the time. It was easy and profitable when I stuck to it. However, its hard as well because it requires discipline. Yes, discipline and patience. Discipline and patience are two very important components of a good poker players game.
In fact, consistent discipline and patience make a poker player great. At least, thats what Im coming to believe. Phil, who has 11 WSOP bracelets including a Main Event victory, millions of dollars in lifetime earnings, and the inaugural National Heads Up Poker Championship crown under his belt obviously knows a bit about poker.
The important thing to remember even if you dont agree with the strategy is that what Phil suggests and what Im suggesting to you is that you pick your starting hands and stick to them. If you can do that, then youre off to a great start. Now, not only do you play the starting hands you commit to, play them strong! Here are the ten starting hands that Phil says you should play (note: for drawing hands such as AK and AQ, its better if theyre suited): 1. AA 2. KK 3. QQ 4. AK 5. AQ 6. JJ 7. TT 8. 99 9.88 10.77.
Heres how you play these hands. For a raise, from any position, the suggested pre-flop raise is 4 times the big blind. Raise them post-flop to see where youre at! If you hit a set with a pair (which will happen about 1 in 8 times), raise big. You can also see that hand a good majority of the time to the river. Just pay attention for straight and flush possibilities. Also raise post-flop if you have top pair with a strong kicker or if you make two pair.
But again think about other possible hands. Could someone have trips? A Straight? Don’t just bet blindly. If you miss the flop and don’t improve your hand, especially with a drawing hand like AK, be prepared to fold to just about any raise. As you improve your Texas Holdem game, you’ll find that you can add and subtract hands to this starting hands list. If you stick to a solid starting hand strategy, you’ll be winning in holdem more than you’ll be losing and that’s a fantastic start to your brilliant poker career, isn’t it?