Texas Hold’em: Understanding Starting Hands and Table Position


When you are playing Texas Holdem, one of the most important parts of the game is the very beginning of any hand. When you first see your cards you can make the decision of whether to stay in the game or to abandon ship. You should also be able to make a reasonable prediction about the chances you have of winning.

Early Position Hands

When you are in the early position of the game, or within the next three spots just after the dealer, you have to play the tightest of all. It is important to go into the game with only the most promising cards, because you just don’t know what the other players are thinking and you still have to make a move. If you play weak cards you are going to be out quite a bit of money when other players down the line raise with better cards in their hand. In this position you should only play when you have a high pair such as AA KK QQ or JJ. You can also play with suited runs like AK KQ and QJ and you can use an unsuited AK or KQ but you should avoid just about any other starting combination.


Middle Position

In the middle position you will already know what at least three other players are going to be doing which means that you can feel free to play a little more loosely. You can play all of the same sets as early position but you can also add in mid-level pairs such as 10’s through 8’s as well as some lower suited connectors, and some lower unsuited cards including Jacks and 10’s into the mix.


Late Position

In the late position you can feel free to play most cards that you think are going to go anywhere. You will know whether or not most of the other players have any decent cards, and if they all look to have nothing much you can either call if you have half decent cards or try to steal the blinds if you have nothing. You can play any pairs, as well as lower suited connectors down to 7’s and 8’s. You should also be playing Aces that are paired with cards between 6 and 8.


Even more important than deciding what cards to play at the beginning of a hand is sticking with the plan that you come up with. Even if you have one of the best strategies around, you cant make any money off of poker if you don’t stick with the plan that you come up with. Many players have a gut feeling about certain hands that end up costing the money. Perhaps they will win a few hands in the beginning going with their gut, but in the end it will only lead to losing money. 

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