No Limit Texas Holdem Starting Hands
Your starting hands in a real money no limit Texas holdem game should be chosen carefully in no limit because they serve as the foundation of the rest of the hand. Choosing your starting hands wisely won’t automatically make you a big winner, but it will start you on the right path.
Players who play too many starting hands cost themselves money in two ways: first, they pay money to see flops with trashy hands and second, they get into difficult and often expensive situations with weak hands.
When choosing your starting hands, the goal is to play strong hands that are easy to play well after the flop. This means that the appropriate starting hands are dependent upon your position and the number of opponents in the pot.
Some top holdem starting hands like AA should be played from all positions and regardless of how many people are in the pot. Other hands like 67s should be played in late position with a couple of people already in the pot.
The positions described in this article are relative and cannot be described by seat numbers or any other absolute description. They are simply early position and late position.
You can consider yourself to be in early position if you have to act first or there are two or more people to act after you. Late position can be loosely classified as being one of the last two people to act at the table.
You’ll notice that I’ve omitted middle position. I’ve gotten rid of middle position because it doesn’t describe anything of use to us. If there are people to act behind you, you can just consider yourself in early position. Or more simply: if you’re not in late position, you’re in early position.
Most no limit Texas hold’em games play six handed now days anyways so there’s really not any room for a middle position. And even in 10-handed games, the people in middle position still have to act first in relation to the people in late position. The only distinguishing characteristic about middle position in 10 handed games is that there are occasionally more pot odds if several people have already limped in in front of you, meaning you can play a few more hands than if nobody had yet entered the pot.
When in early position, you must play extra tight. You want to stick with strong hands like AA-TT, AK, AQ, AJs and KQs. If you’re playing shorthanded, you can play all the pocket pairs down to 22 if you come in with a raise.
You should never limp into the pot from early position. If a hand isn’t strong enough to raise preflop, it should be folded from early position. Weak hands are hard to play from out of position, especially if it gets raised up behind you. Always come in with a raise from early position.
You can play many more hands from late position thanks to the advantage of acting last. The information advantage you gain by acting last each betting round is huge – you get to see every action your opponents take before you have to act.
If several people have limped in already, you can limp in behind them with small hands that can occasionally win big pots. The suited connectors 45s-JQs, and small pocket pairs 22-77 can be limped in behind other limpers. The goal here is to either hit a big hand or fold.
If nobody has entered the pot yet, you can leverage the power of your position and come in with a raise with a wide range of hands. Here’s a list of hands that I raise with in late position:
- Pocket pairs: 22-AA
- Suited connectors: 45s-AKs
- Any two face cards: JT, QT, QJ, AK, KJ, etc
- Suited aces: A7s +
- Suited 1-gappers: 46s, 57s, 79s, etc
That list works the best if the blinds are tight, predictable opponents. If your opponents call your raises and play back at you a lot, you need to tighten it up and stick to your stronger hands.
Preflop play isn’t as cut and dry in no limit as it is in limit. You have to make adjustments based on your opponents, their stack sizes and your table image.
For the most part though, this starting guide will get you off to a good start. If you make sure to play tight from early position and aggressive from both positions, you’ll have a major advantage over your competition.