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How Not to Suck at Poker: Play Fewer Hands
It sucks to suck at things. And Texas Hold'em can be a frustrating game for beginners.
Are you just unlucky? Are you making huge mistakes? Are you missing one simple concept that could change things?
The truth: You're really not that far behind 95% of the poker players in the world. And you don't need to be the foremost expert on the game to become a winning poker player.
In fact, a relatively small amount of basic poker principles can produce massive improvements in your results almost immediately.
And the true first step to becoming a good poker player: simply figuring out how to stop sucking at it.
This is the first in a 10-part series explaining exactly how to do that on the most basic level starting with the most important tip of all: playing fewer hands.
How Not to Suck at Poker Tip 1: Play Fewer Hands
In Texas Hold'em, there are 169 different possible starting hands you can be dealt (this is ignoring specific suits).
Out of all these possible hands, there are only five hands that are considered "premium."
- AK (Suited)
Regardless of your position at the table, a premium hand should always be played if there is no raise ahead of you. If there is a raise ahead of you - especially if there are callers or re-raises - sometimes it can even be a mistake to play anything below Aces or Kings.
When you think about Texas Hold'em starting hands in this light, you'll realize that you should be folding around 80% more hands than you should be playing at any given Hold'em table.
Naturally, the hands you play, and how you play them, will change depending on thousands of different variables at the table. But at the very core of the game there are very few hands that are considered playable.
If there has been no player to open the pot (meaning no one has raised, or even limped ahead of you) you can play almost any hand with any sort of potential value.
Once someone has raised ahead of you, your hand selection should be narrowed down to only the hands that can give you the nuts, and help keep you out of any situation which has you dominated.
For example: you should never play KQ into a raise, as AA, KK, QQ, AK, and AQ all have you dominated.
Unless you have a very good reason to do so, as a beginner poker player you should stick to playing only the top 10 to 15 hands, period.
The more you play, and the better you become at the game, the more hands you can add to your playlist.
Until then, keep it simple, and always head to the flop with the best of it.
Top 15 Hold'em Starting Hands
- AK (suited)
- AQ (suited)
- AJ (suited)
- AK (off suit)
- KQ (suited)
- A10 (suited)
- KJ (suited)
- AQ (off suit)
- JQ (suited)
Pick Your Hands Wisely
By playing fewer starting hands you can give yourself a huge advantage against loose, aggressive players - exactly the kinds of players mentioned above.
You'll also make your post-flop decisions much easier and cut way down on the times you're putting money into the pot with the worst hand.
When you have more experience you can begin to play more hands and get more creative with your post-flop play but until then it's a much more profitable enterprise to keep it simple and only put money into the pot when you have a good hand.
Check out this quick video and continue with the rest of the How Not to Suck beginner poker strategy series below:
More on How Not to Suck at Poker:
- How Not to Suck at Poker: Play Fewer Hands
- How Not to Suck at Poker: Play in Position
- How Not to Suck at Poker: Count Your Outs
- How Not to Suck at Poker: Learn Basic Odds
- How Not to Suck at Poker: Pay Attention
- How Not to Suck at Poker: Have a Bankroll
- How Not to Suck at Poker: Stop Bluffing
- How Not to Suck at Poker: Keep Your Mouth Shut
- How Not to Suck at Poker: Keep Records
- How Not to Suck at Poker: Discuss the Game