Poker news | May 05, 2023
Best poker starting hands
By RTR Sarah
In poker, the starting hand players are dealt determines the likelihood of them winning the pot. The best starting hands in Texas Hold’Em and other popular variations of poker are generally considered to be Pocket Aces and Pocket Kings.
At the beginning of a game of poker, each player is dealt two cards called hole cards. These hole cards, otherwise known as the starting hand, are critical in determining the likelihood of a player winning the pot and how strong of a hand they can create.
The premium hands in poker are those that offer poker players the strongest chance of winning the pot, either by forcing their opponents to fold or by making the best hand.
Although certain starting hands are statistically better than others, it is important to remember that a player's table position, skill level, and the actions of their opponents ultimately determines the outcome of a hand.
Suited vs Offsuit
The strongest starting hands are generally suited. A suited hand refers to two hole cards of the same suit while cards that have different suits are known as ‘offsuit.’ This distinction is significant because suited starting hands have a greater potential to form strong poker hands, such as royal flush and straight flush, then offsuit hands.
Suited connectors are two cards that are connected closely through rank and are of the same suit, such as suited Ace-King and suited King-Queen. Hole cards that include the Ace and face cards form the best starting hands because poker rules determine that individual cards are ranked from high to low: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2.
The Best Poker Starting Hands
Ace-Ace is the best poker starting hand because it offers the greatest chance of winning the pot. This hand is also referred to as Pocket Aces, Pocket Rockets, American Airlines, and Bullets. In a heads-up situation, Pocket Aces has an 85% chance of winning against a random hand pre-flop. Players can expect to be dealt Ace-Ace every 1:221 hands.
Ace-Ace is the highest possible pair that can be made in poker, meaning it beats all other pocket pairs. Opponents are likely to overestimate how strong their own hand is, so the Pocket Ace has the ability to win big pots if the player is able to get their opponents to put money in the pot before or after the flop.
This hand can be played cautiously or aggressively depending on the situation and can be used to trap opponents into committing chips to the pot or win small pots by raising and making strong bets when necessary. However, it is worth playing Ace-Ace aggressively because of the extremely high chance it will beat any other hand preflop.
It is important to note that even though Ace-Ace is the strongest starting hand, it is still possible to lose with it. Players should make sure they do not become overconfident with this hand and play it wisely.
King-King, also known as Pocket Kings, Cowboys, and King Kong, is the second most favoured starting hand in poker. In a heads-up situation, Pocket Kings have an 82% chance of winning against a random hand pre-flop. Players can expect to be dealt King-King every 1:110 hands.
Although King-King is an extremely strong starting hand, if a single Ace appears on the flop it quickly becomes vulnerable. This is why some players refer to this hand as ‘ace magnets.’
The third best starting hand in poker is Queen-Queen, commonly referred to as Pocket Queens, Ladies, and Two Queens. In a heads-up situation, Pocket Queens have an 80% chance of winning against a random hand pre-flop. Players can expect to be dealt Queen-Queen every 1:73 hands.
4. Ace-King Suited
The Ace-King Suited, also known as Anna Kournikova and Big Slick, is the fourth best starting poker position. Although it is widely contested between poker players which starting hand should hold this position, the Big Slick has a 65% chance of winning against a random hand pre-flop in a heads-up situation. Players can expect to be dealt Ace-King Suited every 1:331 hands.
With an ace-king suited, players have a good chance of creating a nut flush (a flush that has ace as the highest card) or a royal flush.
Good Starting Hands
In a heads-up situation against a random hand pre-flop:
5. Ace-Queen Suited - 63% chance of winning.
6. Ace-King Offsuit - 64% chance of winning.
7. Ace-Jack Suited - 62% chance of winning.
8. King-Queen Suited - 60% chance of winning.
9. Jack-Jack (Pocket Jacks) - 56% chance of winning.
10. Ten-Ten (Pocket Tens) - 55% chance of winning.
Worst Poker Starting Hands
In poker, the worst starting hands are those that are considered much weaker than others. These starting hands generally cause players to lose money and therefore most avoid playing them.
Depending on a player's table position, skill level, and the actions of their opponents, sometimes these starting hands can be played profitably. However, generally it is wise to fold these starting hands and wait for better opportunities to arise.
1. Seven-Two Offsuit
A 7-2 offsuit is widely regarded as the worst hand in poker and it almost always results in a losing hand. Normally, those who are dealt this hand will fold immediately as there is a very low chance of winning with it. In a heads-up situation, 7-2 offsuit has a 15% chance of winning against a random hand pre-flop.
With a 7-2 offsuit, the best hand that can be created is a pair of sevens or deuces as there are no straight or flush draws available. Even if a pair is created it is likely to be a weak hand because of the low value of both cards, meaning it can be easily beaten by an opponent with a higher pair as their starting hand. Due to how weak the hand is, it is rarely able to bluff other players out of the pot.
2. Eight-Two Offsuit
Although the 8-2 offsuit is not as weak as the 7-2 offsuit, it is still not a good hand to start with in poker. It should be folded in almost all situations as there is very little potential to win the pot with this hand. In a heads-up situation, 8-2 offsuit has a 16% chance of winning against a random hand pre-flop.
The 8-2 offsuit is a weak starting hand for the same reasons as the 7-2 offsuit. This hand has low card values, is hard to bluff, and is vulnerable to being beaten by higher pairs. The 8-2 offsuit also has a lack of connectivity between the cards, meaning there is little chance to make a straight or flush because the cards are not adjacent to each other. The best hand that a 8-2 offsuit can make is a pair of eights of deuces.
Poor Starting Hands
In a heads-up situation against a random hand pre-flop:
3. Nine-Two Offsuit: 18% chance of winning.
4. Six-Two Offsuit: 19% chance of winning.
5. Five-Two Offsuit: 21% chance of winning.
6. Four-Two Offsuit: 22% chance of winning.
7. Three-Two Offsuit: 24% chance of winning.
8. Five-Three Offsuit: 24% chance of winning.
9. Two-Two (Pocket Twos): 27% chance of winning.