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No-Limit Texas Hold'em Starting Hand Guide

Fortune Jack Poker

Position Pairs Non-pairs
Early 88 or better AK, AQ
Middle 55 or better AJs, ATs, A9s and KQs
Late 22 or better Axs, KJs, QJs, KTs, JTs, K9s, QTs, J9s 

As can be seen from the chart above, you should be folding alot in NL Hold'em. Don't be too concerned about losing your blind bets from all the folding.  Instead, you should be more concerned with losing your patience. Playing NL Hold'em requires a great deal of discipline. Spend the time studying your opponents and the game as you fold your hands.

"The skillful warrior prevail when it is easy to prevail"
- Sun Tzu

Unlike in Limit Hold'em poker, blind bets in NL are not as significant. Chip stacks are frequently won and lost in all-in showdowns. Think about it. A player can play many hands and win all the blind bets but it takes just 1 major showdown to win it all back from him.

Think of your chips as your soldiers and your starting hands as their fitness and weapons. Wouldn't it make sense to send your troops to battle only when they are well-trained and well-equiped?

Some Preflop Tips

  1. This is worth repeating another ten times - be very patient, wait for the premium hands. Chasing 2nd rate hands in NL Hold'em is totally not worth it.
  2. Raise or re-raise with strong starting hands (top pairs, AK, AQ).
  3. Most of the time, you would limp in with all other starting hands unless you are first in from a late position.
  4. When limping in with weaker starting hands (low pairs, low connectors), be ready to fold when an opponent re-raises aggressively.
  5. Vary your play slightly to avoid becoming too predictable.

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