Poker Coaching Charts: Where to Find and How to Use?

Dennis  «Dennis_Stets» 
12 Apr 2024
Holdem Hand review
12 Apr 2024

Poker charts are pre-calculated tables of starting hands. They allow player clearly understand how to act in a given situation on pre-flop and other stages. Depending on your position and the actions of your opponents before you, you make further decisions at the table.

Given poker charts are meant to serve as an excellent basis and starting point for further improvement of poker strategy. They can be useful for advanced players as well, so let’s discover this poker topic more deeply!

What are starting hands?

There are only 52 cards in the poker deck, but they can be used to make as many as 1,326 different combinations — it's if we're talking about No-Limit Texas Holdem. They are distributed as follows:

  • Pocket Pairs — 78 (6%);
  • Suited Hands — 312 (24%);
  • Off-suit starters — 936 (70%).

How can a beginner navigate such a variety? Which hands are worth playing and which ones are better to fold? Here poker charts will definitely help you: in this article you will find actual tables and learn how to use them. Let's look at all these situations in more detail.

First, let's understand the designations. For simplicity of making charts and for their interpretation we have next symbols:

  • S (suited) — single-suit cards.
  • O (offsuited) — multi-suit cards.
  • A — Ace.
  • K — King.
  • Q — Queen.
  • J — Jack.
  • T — designation of ten.
  • 2-9 — the lowest cards from the deck (from deuce to nine).

Thus, AJo+ in the table is a recommendation for a one-suit hand with Ace and Ten. AJo+ indicates the range, which includes all Aces with a Jack or higher.

How to use poker coaching charts?

Poker coaching preflop charts are most often used by beginners. They are a base from which you can build on later — in fact, they reflect the most reliable strategy for playing all possible starting hands on preflop.

Only after gaining experience, you can start to deviate from it. But blindly following the data in the tables is also not the best option. 

First of all, in poker you should always act based on your opinion of your opponent. Secondly, charts can become outdated, because the game is constantly changing.

More often you'll find poker coaching charts that are downloadable in one of two types. Such as:

  1. Tabular. Such will be understandable even to a beginner. In the left column are usually the starting combinations, and in the right column — options depending on how your opponents have played before you.
  2. Matrix. A more complicated format. But if you understand it, reading the chart becomes quite easy. All combinations are written in a square matrix — 13 columns and 13 rows. In the upper right half there are single-suit combinations, and in the lower left half there are multi-suit combinations. The diagonal separating these groups is pocket pairs. The possible action here is highlighted in color.

Full Table (9 players)

Beginners often start their poker career at long tables, where 9 or even 10 people are playing. Here the hands are not as dynamic as at short tables, and careful strategy brings success more often. Blinds do not destroy stacks so quickly, so there is always an opportunity to take your time and wait for good cards.

For these tables, the best way to play is with a tight and aggressive style, where only the top of the range is played.

Experienced players will find the starting charts for beginners too neat. It’s true, but at the initial stage this style of play will often be optimal.

Another feature of full table cashes is deep stacks.

You can always buy in to a starting stack of 100 big blinds. At the same time, the game will be optimal, without rash flush-fold decisions.

Short Table (6 players)

Reducing the number of players at the table forces you to deal more often — otherwise the blinds will constantly «take a bite» out of your stack. This means that at 6-max tables you can't sit around waiting for only the strongest cards.

The range of hands of all players will be wider, which means that you will have to take part in more hands. Here are some typical charts for all positions at 6-max table:

Here we need to look at the colors of the cells. Decode the matrices:

  1. Red. The best possible starters. They are always played aggressively, by raising. Sometimes it will be profitable to set traps with preflop calls, but at the first stages of your career don't abuse this technique so that you don't fall into them yourself.
  2. Blue. Hands with a good potential to catch nuts on the flop. Open with a raise if you haven't raised before. In case of one or more raises, it is better to drop them, although a call is not a mistake — but only if you understand how to play postflop.
  3. Yellow. Good starting combinations to play in deep stacks. The main aim of playing on the preflop — careful, but aggressive after collecting a strong combination.
  4. Green. Ideal hands for stealing blinds from late positions, provided that there were no raises before you.

MTT

Tournament poker is very different from cash tables. Here the game in deep stacks goes only in the early stage. And then, as the blinds grow, the stacks get smaller and smaller, often turning into a flush-fold.

Of course, there are exceptions to every example. For example, in a tournament with a good structure a chip leader will feel comfortable at any of the stages. But most participants will have to fight for survival, often risking their entire stack.

Remember, that charts won't help much in the middle and late stages. There are too many factors to consider (stacks, opponent qualifications, prizes, structure and so on).

Spin-&-Go

Spin & Go are hyper-turbo tournaments for three players. They are played in incredibly short stacks (starting stack is 25 BB) and with fast blinds growth. Here you need to participate in a large number of hands, so the charts will be quite wide.

Let's look at an example of a chart for spins on the example of the button position, which was presented earlier:

Left «min. raise» matrix — playing in relatively large stacks, when you can make minimal raises (all colored cells are opened). Right «push-fold» matrix — flush depending on the stack size:

  • Purple color — flush at 8-10 BB;
  • Red color — flush at 6-7 BB;
  • Yellow color — flush with a stack of 5 or less BB.

Nash Push Fold

Nash charts are designed for single-table Sit-&-Go tournaments. However, they are often applied to tournament poker when the poker game is played at a full table. Let’s check them out:

In the example above, the left column shows the combinations and the right columns show the solutions — depending on position and stack depth.

There are Nash charts for heads-up play as well. They concern two possible actions when playing in short stacks: all-in and fold.

It’s all about how to call all-in in a Nash heads-up game. Note that in HU play, a call with an opponent's pocket pair of deuces will be profitable in math up to a stack size of 15 big blinds. Although amateurs will often discard this starting combination in such depth, underestimating its potential and the width of the opponent's range.

Sklansky Charts

Poker pros Sklansky and Chubukov have their own theory. Their rule proposes to start by breaking down all starting hands into eight categories:

  1. JJ+ and AK;
  2. TT, suited KQ, Aj, AQ, and off-suit AK;
  3. 99, suited JT, QJ, KJ, AT, and off-suit AQ;
  4. 88, suited KT, QT, J9, T9, 98, and off-suit AJ, KT;
  5. 77, suited Ax, Q9, T8, 97, 87, 76, 65, and off-suit KJ, QJ, JT;
  6. 66, 55, suited K9, J8, 75, 54, and off-suit AT, QT, QT;
  7. 44-22, suited Kx, Q8, T7, 64, 43, 53, and off-suit J9, T9, 98;
  8. J7, 96, 85, 74, 32, and off-suit K9, A9, Q9, T8, 87, 85, 76, 65, 54.

In flush-fold stacks, groups are fluffed from the following positions:

  • Early — groups 1-3.
  • Middle — groups 1-5
  • Late and Button — 1-7.
  • Blinds — 1-8.

Where to find a poker trainer?

Classes with an experienced coach are universally recognized as the best way to work on your poker game. Here's what they might look like:

  1. Working with a personal trainer. For example, Daniel Negreanu, Fedor Holz, Jonathan Little, etc. Or you can find a good coach in the appropriate section of the Getcoach poker site. Each specialist has his own thread where you can read feedback from their students;
  2. Join the Backing Fund (CFP Poker). This offer is not suitable for newbies, as backing funds recruit people who already have a certain amount of experience (number of hands played in cash or tournaments). Full-fledged contracts are signed with them, and Getcoach training resource. In addition to training cash games, players get real money for playing. 

All major poker schools and personal teachers can be found in the Getcoach training section

Final thoughts

Poker hand charts are pre-calculated tables of starting hands that allow the novice player to clearly understand how to act in a given situation pre-flop. Depending on your position and the actions of your opponents before you, you will be able to clearly understand if and how to play a given hand.

Preflop charts or other data will serve as an excellent basis and starting point for further improvement of your poker strategy. They can not be ignored, if you plan to win big at the poker tables. See you later!

 

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