Position Affects Your Hand Value
The most important aspect to focus on in this ranking chart is to notice the value of position when it comes to your hand. In Texas Hold’em, position is a huge advantage – you want to be as close to the Button as possible (as the Button the last person to act after the flop).
When you are in positions like the SB (Small Blind) and BB (Big Blind), you can see that your starting hand EV drops significantly in Texas Hold’em. This is due to the fact that you often end up betting or calling in these positions with hands that are much weaker than you would normally play. In addition, people behind you get to see your actions, so they are in better position to perform tricky moves or steal the pot if necessary. This is why many Texas Hold’em experts say that if you observe a game, that money tends to flow toward the direction of the Button.
This means that you want to tighten up your starting hand selection early in the game and drop questionable hands like [KT], [QT], [JT], [T9] – and possibly even [KJ] or [QJ] – in early position. You can see for yourself on the EV chart that these hands will lose you money in the long run in Hold’em. In late position, however, you can relax your starting hand selection to include these cards. You can also begin playing pocket pairs a bit more liberally in late position.
Starting hands are the key to success in Texas Hold’em
Standard five-card Poker hands are ranked here in order of strength, from the strongest Poker hand to the weakest.
This is the best possible hand in standard five-card Poker. Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 10, all of the same suit.
Any five-card sequence in the same suit (e.g.: 8, 9, 10, Jack and Queen of clubs; or 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of diamonds).
Four of a Kind
All four cards of the same value (e.g.: 8, 8, 8, 8; or Queen, Queen, Queen, Queen).
Three of a kind combined with a pair (e.g.: 10, 10, 10 with 6, 6; or King, King, King with 5, 5).
Any five cards of the same suit, but not in sequence (e.g.: 4, 5, 7, 10 and King of spades).
Five cards in sequence, but not in the same suit (e.g.: 7 of clubs, 8 of clubs, 9 of diamonds, 10 of spades and Jack of diamonds).
Three of a Kind
Three cards of the same value (e.g.: 3, 3, 3; or Jack, Jack, Jack).
Two separate pairs (e.g.: 2, 2, Queen, Queen).
Two cards of the same value (e.g.: 7, 7).
If a Poker hand contains none of the above combinations, it’s valued by the highest card in it.
You might think that starting hand strategy in poker is all about getting big cards and winning with them, but that’s only half the story. The other half of the story is avoiding getting yourself into situations where you call down with weak cards.
If you’ve played poker already, you’ll probably nod your head in agreement when you hear this situation:
You’re in the Big Blind and you catch top pair on the flop with a weak kicker. A player bets, and you call the flop with your top pair. The player bets both the turn and river, and you call again (even when you really don’t want to). When you turn your cards over, you find to your dismay that your opponent has a bigger kicker and wins the pot. You’ve just been out-kicked! This happens all the time and the key is to let it happen to your opponents – not you! Always remember this fundamental principle to poker: “A bet saved is a bet earned!”