Poker > Poker Strategy > Hand Selection

Poker Hand Selection

Starting Hand Selection & Feel In NL Texas Holdem

Anyone who has a basic understanding of the game of Texas Holdem has an understanding of hand selection concepts. They know that an Ace is worth more than a two and a pocket pair has a higher value than two random cards. The trouble with poker is having that basic knowledge won’t get you very far on the table. There are so many considerations when choosing your starting hands it becomes easy to ignore the fundamentals and just play the cards. In certain circumstances this may even be a good play if you know your opponent well enough to know if you have him beat, or at least make him think so. But aside from that things such as table mood, player skill and general feel about the hand are other important factors that come into selecting the hands you play. 

Lots of people only play the premium hands such as Ace King/Queen/Jack and high pocket pairs. Personally and from my own experiences, I do not believe this is the path to becoming a long-term winner in this game. While you may dominate lower limit games, players will eventually figure you out and be able to put you on most of your hands. For this reason, I like to play what I call “puzzle cards” or to the poker astute readers, suited connectors. Needless to say I will not fold Ace King or Pocket Aces, but I truly believe that “puzzle cards” can have the same value as the so-called bigger hands when played correctly. By the way I call them “puzzle cards” cause they always seem to fit into some sort of hand or draw on the board. 

Playing the “puzzle card” hands properly is a very difficult task to master. You have to use all the information you have gathered about your opponents correctly in order to make these hands work. I would like to go through two examples of how these hands can either hurt you or make you rich depending on how you play them and read your opponents. 

Ex. 1 

You 
6D 7D 
Opponent 
AS AH 
Flop 
7C 2H 3S 

Ex 2. 

You 
6D 7D 
Opponent 
AS KH 
Flop 
7C 2H 3S 

As you can see in Ex.1 there is potential for getting yourself in trouble. If you are an aggressive player, you may push the pot on a raggedy board like that and could get burned. In Ex.2, we see an opportunity to make some money. The player will AK has surely raised before the flop and is likely to be aggressive on the flop believing his high cards are truly the best hand. This is when you can squeeze a lot of chips out of him by allowing him to bet big and re-raising appropriately. The only problem with the above scenarios is getting a good read on your opponent. This is imperative in playing and reading these situations correctly and will come with time and experience as you play. 

So those are some of my thoughts on starting hands in No-Limit cash games. I am sure some of you disagree with my opinions on poker and that is good. This is a game of different styles and different people. Feel free to write comments or your opinions on the article and until next time in the words of Mike Sexton, “May your cards be live and your pots be monsters.”

Written By: John www.bankrollboost.com