Poker Texas Hold’em starting hands chart

Dennis  «Dennis_Stets» 
12 Mar 2024
Holdem Strategy
12 Mar 2024

Beginners use poker starting hands chart as a strategic foundation. This helps to avoid major mistakes on preflop and set the right direction of thinking. Hands charts mark specific cards or groups of cards with tips on how best to deal with them. Recommendations vary depending on the type of poker, format, stage of play and other influencing factors. In this issue we’ll discuss this trendy topic.

Best starting hands in Hold'em

Professionals evaluate the potential of the cards dealt based on a group of factors. These include position, style of play (their own and their opponents), limit trends, dynamics, the actions of their opponents, and the size of their bets. Effective stack, discipline and format also play a huge role. And in tournaments — the structure of the prize area, the rate of blinds increase, ICM pressure, etc.

It's difficult for beginners to collect and systematize so much information. Therefore, in freerolls, micro-limit cash or at play money tables you can be guided by this simple order:

  • High pocket pairs: A-A — 9-9.
  • Strong aces: A-10 — A-K.
  • Suited connectors and A-high: A-2-A-9, 8-9 — K-Q.
  • Low pairs: 2-2 — 8-8.
  • Suited connectors with a split: 7-9 — Q-10.

In further categories, the difference between hands becomes less noticeable. In poker strategy chart various factors determine the validity of a bidding entry. Position, a note on your opponent, or stack size may incline you to call with A-8 and fold 6-6 in the same seemingly identical situation.

Some beginners use the Hutchinson system instead of the usual Holdem starting hands chart.

Differences in Omaha

Omaha is the more dynamic «sister» of Hold'em. This is facilitated by dealing 4 pocket cards to each player on preflop. So there's more opportunities to make a winning combination or get a hold on the draw. Therefore, participants are more willing to invest in the pot and less likely to give up the fight for it.

Omaha has similar principles for selecting poker starting hand chart, but the approach is a bit stricter:

  1. Compound connectors of 3-4 cards in a row, such as 8-9-10-J, have high potential.
  2. Only ace-queen majors are considered premium.
  3. Pocket pairs are played with a full house.

The first rule is due to the fact that rows often hit straight draws with many outs. The next two are due to the large number of cards in the opponents' hands. A set on the flop is no longer a nuts and requires more careful play. And weak flushes often only get action from higher flushes. 

Differences in Hold’em 6+

In Short Deck Hold'em, the distance between cards is smaller than in classic poker. Therefore, the probabilities of combinations and their seniority, of course, differ.

In addition, since the deck starts with sixes, straights are collected more often and are considered weaker than sets (in couple poker rooms). On the other hand, the number of outs on a flush has been reduced from 13 to 9, so it has become a more valuable combination than a full house.

Offsuit cards without a strong straight are weak and need to be played carefully. But when entering the bidding, you should take into account that the betting structure creates high pot odds already preflop. This also expands the ranges of poker opening hands chart in 6+ Hold'em.

Best starters for cash games

There are three main strategies for cash games. They differ tactically and are related to the number of big blinds a player has: for short (up to 40 bb), medium (from 40) and big stacks (100+). The first one is more algorithmic as it does not imply flexibility in decisions. In essence, the objective is to make a quick all-in with high equity.

Medium and large stacks have more postflop decisions. Banks here do not grow so fast that you can find yourself in all-in on the round of flop or turn.

Short stack strategy

This strategy is the most common, so it used to be recommended for beginners. Lots of poker rooms limited the possibilities of its application, making the minimum buy-in at the cash poker table of 40 big blinds. And for CCC, 20 is required.

The main idea of the short stack strategy is to enter the pot with a very strong hand and call it out as quickly as possible.

Due to the narrow range, there is almost always sufficient equity. The main tactical actions are opening bets (first raise preflop) and 3-bets.

The 3-bet table is combined with resteals and all-in since all hands included are eligible.

The charts suggested for use should be related to the general principles of short stack strategy:

  • Very tight play of starting hands on preflop;
  • No limping;
  • Avoiding suited connectors, weak aces and low pairs;
  • Small postflop bets: up to 50% of the pot;
  • Aggressive draws;
  • Frequent squeezes with all-ins.

For more effective application of the strategy it is recommended to study its preflop ideas in more detail, the rules of adjusting to the opponents, as well as practicing in equity calculators.

Mid-stack strategy

This is a more variable approach as it requires a stack of 30-50 bb. Preflop decisions are less default and depend on the player's position, hand and the actions of the opponents. The opener raises table is still simple, but there are more situational moments with 3-bets and stealing blinds.

If one of the opponents has already made a raise and possibly received a call, the decision to call depends on the cards and position at the table.

A mid-stack strategy requires play poker more actively in late positions: opening with a wide range to steal blinds.

There are principles and patterns that are difficult to tabulate. But they also play a huge role:

  • The range of a flush after one re-raise. In early and middle positions — Q-Q, A-K, in late position and blinds — hand like J-J, A-K.
  • All-in range after two re-raises: Q-Q in all circumstances.
  • If your opponent opened the bidding on preflop, got a 3-bet and a 4-bet, you can make a cold call with K-K.
  • The basic range of defense against steals is a raise: 8-8, A-J.
  • Standard range for bidding in a blind battle: 10-10, A-K.

Short and medium stack strategies are usually effective at table games with 7-9 opponents.

Big stack strategy

This strategy is designed to be played with a stack of 100 bb or more. At this depth, there are very few bets on preflop and flop. The main struggle is transferred to the postflop, and the most expensive decisions — on the turn and river. Therefore, the main thing is to accurately assess your opponents' range, compare them with the board cards, bet sizes and use individual notes.

Preflop remains an important stage of the hand, as small early mistakes can easily turn into big losses on late streets. But usual charts of starting hands in Texas Hold’em are not relevant. The ranges of opening, 3-bets, steals, blinds defense depend on the peculiarities and actions of the opponents. And in an equally structured hand, the decision to raise with A-5 from MP can be both profitable and disadvantageous. It depends on the factors involved.

Beginners can use the basic Texas Hold'em strategy chart, adjusting to their opponents.

This is the main information that only beginners can use. Advanced players abandon charts and base their decisions entirely on statistics and other data. To come to this, you need to read articles about cash games, analyze your hands, learn to accurately assess your opponents' ranges and practice with poker calculators.

Adaptation for short tables

The starting hand charts for 6-max cash games are built on the same principles as 9-max. Technically, they are the same charts modified according to the positions taken out.

They describe the same actions for different situations: opening with a raise, entering the bidding after the opponents' bets, etc. But short tables are suitable for experienced poker players. Here the dynamics are higher and the player needs to bet blinds more often and defend against steals.

Ranges for Fixed Hold'em Poker

In fixed stakes poker, participants cannot make high raises and use a narrow range of tactics. As a result, the range of starters is much wider. Beginners playing at such tables can be guided by the following Texas Holdem strategy chart:

For advanced play, you need to study your opponents' stats, look for their weaknesses and analyze your mistakes.

MTT charts

At the beginning of the tournament, an effective strategy is similar to a cash game. You should play strong cards, and in late positions broaden the range a little to steal blinds.

A starting hands poker chart for MTTs with narrow ranges, based on the short stack strategy, is appropriate for the beginning of the online tournament. It eliminates unnecessary risk and helps you save more chips. You can use the chart for short stack strategy, but only for opening bets. You should not go all-in with anything weaker than K-K.

In the middle stage of the tournament players need to add steals from late positions, as well as rare 3-bets against cautious opponents. However, excessive activity is not necessary.

The goal of preserving your stack for profitable situations is still relevant.

The conventional number M helps to choose the optimal tactics at any stage of a tournament event. It shows how many rounds of passive participation the stack is enough for. The lower the number, the more aggressive you need to play.

Basic push-fold

When the stack becomes less than 20 big blinds, it's necessary to switch to the mode of push-fold. That is, preflop the player either makes an all-in or folds the hand.

In the payout area (ITM), the strategy changes to take into account the ICM. This mathematical model evaluates chips in real money. A large stack does not guarantee first place, and a small stack can become bigger. In fact, lost chips are more expensive than won chips, so the profitability of the action is not obvious. Because of this, the hand selection on the preflop is adjusted.

HeadsUp Push/Fold Nash Equilibrium

The following Texas Hold Em starting hands chart shows how to choose starters when playing one-on-one (HU). The first one shows what stack size you can all-in with specific cards. That is, if the number of big blinds is less than the number in the box, a flop is favorable.

The second Texas Hold’em chart shows what stack size is favorable to call an opponent's all-in with a particular hand.

The Hold Em starting hands chart is based on Nash equilibrium, which players need to adhere to in order to maintain balance in their results. In poker it works like this: the player who makes decisions closer to equilibrium profits over the distance.

Chart of best starting hands in Omaha

There are no similar charts for Omaha with recommendations of optimal actions for specific cards. This type of poker is recommended for advanced poker players. When mastering it, you can be guided by the following list, which shows the top-30 best starting hands:

This chart ranks hands excluding suited hands. It’s essentially an estimate of their straight and full house potential. And suited mixtures give you a chance to make a flush. Because of this, some hands in Texas Hold’em can be considered stronger and others — weaker.

In Omaha, a player's advantage over his opponent is realized on the postflop. Therefore, it is not possible to unequivocally call the cards good or bad to participate in the hand.

Preflop in SNG tournaments

In one-table SNG tournaments, the choice of hands and actions depends on an additional factor — stack size. As the game progresses, a participant cannot buy more chips, thus preserving his tactical possibilities. That’s why charts are based not only on cards and positions, but also on stack size. It is expressed in big blinds, so the charts are applicable to any stage of the game.

As long as the stack exceeds 15-20 bb, preflop in SNG actually is played as in MTT. Then it is necessary to switch to the mode of flush-fold (considering ICM). Here beginners are recommended to use standard charts. But they are no universal solution.

It is necessary to analyze played tournaments and improve your understanding of ICM in special poker simulators.

Spin&Go poker hands to play chart

Many beginners like to play in Spin&Go tournaments. Ready-made charts help to choose hands with good potential. With them, beginners gradually understand in which typical situations it is more profitable to fold, call or raise.

Following the chart, if the stack is 10-25 big blinds, you should open the bidding with a 2bb raise. This is due to the presence of early position and the possibility of sizing to get initiative at the table.

With a stack of less than 10b, you need to play in the mode of flush-fold. And the less chips, the wider the range of starting hands.

The colors indicate the stack sizes at which you should go all-in with a particular hand. For example, a flop with J8s is recommended for a player with 6-7 big blinds.

For the SB position, the preflop chart of starting hands in Spin&Go poker looks similar. The first Holdem starting hand chart shows openings, and the second — push-folds.

All of the mentioned Texas Holdem starting hand charts are designed for beginners, so they do not include more situational actions like SB limps and 3-bets without all-in. This is a strategy for advanced players. It should be practiced by those who, after trying Spin&Go, have decided to make it their main discipline.

Charts of starting hands in poker are designed to facilitate decision making on the preflop. At the stage of learning the game it will be a smart move to download them and use during online poker sessions, avoiding major mistakes.


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