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Poker tournaments articles

Poker Starting Hands

Poker Starting Hands are critical to your success in a poker tournament especially an online poker tournament. The thing about poker starting hands is not to play if they are not good enough. Many people get eliminated from the tournament simply because they played with hands they weren't good enough. So try to avoid the beginners mistakes and see less flops and be more choosy in the starting hands you play with.

The first useable and conclusive list of poker starting hands was first introduced in the seminal work by poker authors and experts Mason Malmuth and David Sklansky "Texas Hold'em for Advanced Players". The list of starting hands appearing in this books was conducted from Sklansky's personal experience and vast theoretical understanding of poker and the mathematical system behind it. World Series of Poker winners have won their titles due to the benefit of this list.

Although this book was published almost 20 years ago the list still holds true. Lately, several computer simulations have shown that the list can be slightly modified to represent a more precise mathematical approach. The poker starting hands on the list are divided into 8 separate groups - the hands in the first three groups are the strongest starting hands in the game; the hands in groups 4-8 are more situational and generally weaker. Starting hands that are not listed in this list are generally unplayable and can be used very rarely for deceptive purposes (to more on the subject read about poker bluffing).

The best way to learn how to implement the list is to first memorize the groups. Playing this hands is of course a whole different story that will be discussed in future articles. Very generally, when holding groups one through three you should usually bet or raise. Other poker starting hands are better for calling or checking. This advice is also very dependable on the type of game you are playing (e.g. ring games or tournaments) and the type of opponents you are facing. If you are playing poker tournaments then there is a distinction between the different tournament variants.

Ron Phillips, Guest Editor


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