Texas Hold’em Starting Hands Cheat Sheet

Making money in No-Limit Texas Holdem starts with the hands you choose to play and when you choose to play them. Even a “top 10 hand” can be the wrong hand to play depending on the situation you're in. Since a definitive guide on every hand and how and when to play it in every situation would take more words than a novel. This article will touch on the major points of basic pre-flop hands with broad strokes.

Texas Holdem Starting Hands

There is no such thing as a Texas Hold'em Cheat Sheet that will help you cheating in Texas Hold'em Poker, but it can help you understanding which hands to play and how to play them in certain betting rounds or positions. These kind of cheat sheets are often used in online poker, some poker software accept you using them, some don't. But it would look quite weird to pick up and read before every betting round in a live poker game, don't you think?

If you are interested in learning Texas Hold'em Poker quickly, please have a look at our beginners guide on how to play Texas Hold'em pokerIf you want to improve your poker game, watch the video below for some immediate help picking the right Texas Hold'em Starting Hands.

After watching the video you will have an idea of how to setup your own poker hands hands cheat sheet.

How to Play Texas Hold'em Starting Hands

First things first, in order to fully grasp the value of certain starting hands it is utmost important that you know how all Hold'em hands are ranked. If the are a bit unclear to you, check out our complete cheat with all poker hands ranked from highest to lowest.

Now let's jump into the different types of Texas Hold'em starting hands.

Pocket Aces

You dont need a poker cheat sheet to play this hand. Although you can write volumes about detailed lines and theories on maximizing profit with this hand, other than folding there is rarely a scenario in which you can ever make a mistake with this hand (pre-flop that is).

Post Flop: Even though this is the best starting hand, if the board doesn't improve your hand you only have one pair. Keep this in mind to avoid stacking off to random two pairs and sets in your poker games.



Pocket Kings

Pocket kings are almost identical to pocket aces pre-flop. Neither this time you will need any Texas Hold'em hands cheat sheet to play correctly. Although players have folded KK pre-flop, it's rarely the correct thing to do. If someone else is dealt AA when you have KK, chances are you're going to get it all in. Don't worry about this, just write it off as a cooler and move on.

Texas Hold'em Poket Kings Starting Hand

Post Flop: The same ideas about post-flop play with AA are applicable to KK. On top of the “one pair” concept, you also need to be on the lookout for an ace on the flop.

Although an ace flopping is not automatically a death sentence, it's never a good sign.

Related Reading:

  • Poker Trouble Spots: How to Play KK in Early Position

Pocket Queens and Jacks

Queens and jacks are right in the middle – below the big pairs and above the marginal pairs. These hands can be some of the trickiest to play. That being said, these two hands should still be in your list of top 10 most profitable hands.

Unlike AA and KK, these hands are very foldable pre-flop in certain situations. If you're playing at a table with tight and passive players, where people are only raising with legitimate hands, many players would say that calling after one player raises and another re-raises pre-flop can be a mistake. Many players would just bet all the money with QQ and JJ and will often have a hard time profiting. Remember there are more Hold'em hands so come and you will get better chances.

Post Flop: If there is heavy action pre-flop, you have to assume you're either beat, or at best up against AK. You only want to continue with these hands if the board improves your hand, or your opponents back off, showing signs of weakness.


Pocket Pairs Below Jacks

Example: 10 10  ,  , 

Playing tight and aggressive preached in the article How to Crush Live $1/$2 No-Limit Hold'em, all of these hands are playable with no or a single raise (especially with multiple callers) for set value. You're set mining with these hands. If you don't hit your set, you don't make a bet. Got that? No set, no bet. The only goal with these hands is to flop a set and double up through the pre-flop raiser holding pocket aces.

One Thing to Keep in Mind: The lower pair you have, the greater the chance that you will find yourself in a set-over-set situation.

Anytime you flop the under set in a set-over-set situation, you will be lucky if you don't lose your entire stack. For this reason, many players will refuse to play pocket pairs below fives.

Top-Pair Hands

Example:  , 

Hands such as A-K, A-Q, A-J and even K-Q can be profitable hands to play and should be marked high in your poker cheat sheet. At a loose table, these hands are great for raising when you have position (and no one has raised before of you).

TThe way to make money in Texas Holdem Poker with these hands is to trap a loose opponent with the same top pair, weak kicker. The most important thing to keep in mind with hands such as K-Q or A-J is you almost never want to call a raise with these hands. These hands are the most commonly dominated hands when faced with a raise, and as such will lose you significant money if you get into the habit of calling raises with them. Of course the poker games are always changing, especially in Texas Hold'em poker. It is different to play poker games live and play online poker and it is also most often a big difference to play poker games on different online poker rooms. What I am telling you now are guidelines that you have to keep in mind.

Post-Flop: Much like AA and KK, you need to remember that one pair is a hand easily beaten in Texas Holdem Poker. If your opponent is a very tight player there is little chance he will be putting in large bets against you if he can't beat top pair.

You need to change how you play depending on the players you're against.


Suited Connectors (and Suited One-Gappers)

Suited connectors means that your cards are connected and has the same suit. Suited connectors can be some of the most valuable hands in Texas Hold em cash games. That being said, they aren't sure things and will miss everything far more often than they will hit it big. You want to fold small suited connectors (if not all suited connectors) from early position.

In middle to late position you want to play these hands with due diligence. You don't want to be calling large raises to play these hands heads up. Your goal with these hands is to play the largest possible for the least amount of investment possible. You need great odds to make money on these. Without the odds, they should be folded from any position. In live texas holdem games you will experience players to play these kind of hands more often because you get dealt hands less often compared to online poker.


Suited Aces


Similar to suited connectors, these hands are played only to take down very large pots for a very small investment. You are not playing these hands to hit an ace and get into a betting war. As explained in this article, you don't want to play against an ace, even if you have a small ace yourself. If you don't hit a draw on the flop (or better yet the nuts), you should be done with these hands. It's almost never profitable to be paying for backdoor draws. In Texas Holdem Poker Cheat Sheets you often see the whole table filled with these hands when playing from Cutoff and Button, while you should fold it from the small blind.

More Texas Holdem Starting Hands

Example:  ,  , 10  ,  , 

Simply put, every other hand you can be dealt is going to lose you money. As a beginner or even intermediate player, hands that may look great – such as an off-suit Q-J or J-10 – are simply going to lose you money in the long run. So don't play hands like these. The worse the hands you play, the harder the decisions you're going to have to make post-flop. Therefor, fill your Texas Hold'em hand cheat sheet with the hands I have spoke about before. The better you get at Texas Holdem Poker, the more hands you can fill your cheat sheets with as you will grow as a poker player by playing basic texas holdem from start.

The goal as a beginner poker player is to make as few mistakes as possible. And the best way to limit the number of mistakes you make is to reduce the number of difficult decisions you have to make. In other words, don't have bad Texas Hold'em hands in your cheat sheets.

Stick to only playing the hands in this list. Throw away the weaker of these hands when out of position, and only play against a raise if you have a very strong hand or the odds with a strong drawing hand. Follow those guidelines, and you'll be on a fast track to making profit.

Texas Hold'em Starting Hands Infographic

This Cheat Sheet covers every kind of starting hand and gives you easy-to-follow instructions on how to play them in every betting round. From the flop, until the final betting round after the river has been dealt. The infographic also includes helpful stats about how likely it is for someone else to have a bigger pocket pair than you before the flop in a full ring Texas Holdem Poker, weather its a poker tournament or cash game its always the same. And how likely it is for you to see an overcard on the board when you hold different pocket pairs. You should also read our article with .

Now we have gone through some basics in Texas Hold'em Poker as well as some ways for you to understand which Texas Hold'em hands to put in your poker cheat sheets. Regardless if you play live games or online, study your cheat sheet and remember the poker hand rankings. And the most important rule. Dont get tricky! There is no fast way to be a good poker player. You cant just jump in to the biggest poker tournament and think you are going to beat the best poker players in the world. There are many poker sites that offer freerolls where you can win money without risking anything. Start there and get experience. And also, stay away from the poker tilt. There´s always a new hand.

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