The “Simplest No Limit Texas Holdem Poker Chart of Starting Hands”

by PokerAnon ~ April 6th, 2011. Filed under: Basics of poker, Instructional posts.


* Modified April 13th, 2011 *

Here’s the simplest and easiest to remember poker hand chart that I can devise.

Easy Poker Hand Chart - 1

 

Or, reversing the description may make it easier to remember and to visualize:

It’s the same chart in both cases; pairs in one category and unpaired hole cards in another. For the unpaired cards King as the lowest card for early, Q low for mid, J low for hijack, T low for cutoff, then 9 low for dealer. Simply raise all hands according to your seating position at the table. In detail, this means:

  1. In early position, raise pairs JJ/QQ/KK/AA, plus AK.
  2. In mid position, raise pairs 99/TT/JJ/QQ/KK/AA, plus AK/AQ/KQ
  3. In the Hijack, raise pairs 99/TT/JJ/QQ/KK/AA, plus AK/AQ/AJ/KQ/KJ/QJ
  4. In the Cutoff, pairs 99/TT/JJ/QQ/KK/AA, plus AK/AQ/AJ/AT/KQ/KJ/KT/QJ/QT/JT
  5. In the Dealer, pairs 99/TT/JJ/QQ/KK/AA, plus AK/AQ/AJ/AT/A9/KQ/KJ/KT/K9/QJ/QT/Q9/JT/J9/T9

 

The reason that pocket pairs “move faster” is that they have a better chance of being the best hand than two unpaired cards. The reason that they “stop” at middle position and don’t get lower is that it is difficult for beginners to play smaller pairs because there will almost always be one or more card on the flop that is a bigger card.

The charts ignore the distinction between suited cards (both cards of the same suit) and non-suited for two reasons. First, there is only about a 2% increase the likelihood of a suited hand winning where it’s unsuited counterpart loses. That 2% is valuable for better players, but beginners usually overvalue suited cards, and to an extreme. Second, remembering where suited and unsuited cards fall in hand categories complicates matters for the raw beginner.

The % column is only for informational purposes and you don’t need to remember it. It is the percentage of all possible starting poker hands that the cards in that category represent. In other words, AA/KK/QQ/JJ/AK is 3.0% of all the possible starting poker hands. The reason for so few hands to play from early position is that there are seven to nine players after you so the chances of them holding a good hand is very high but less so if you only play the very best hands, and, when the flop comes most of these players will bet after you making it more difficult for you to play so it’s better to hold only the best hands. In the dealer position at the opposite end of the chart, because there are only two players left to decide (the small blind and the big blind), the chart gives you 20.8% of all hands to play.

Keep in mind that this chart assumes a ten or nine player table of players, as below:

10 seat table

 

If you have fewer players, eliminate positions starting from Early 1. For example, if you have only seven players, eliminate Early 1, Early 2, and Early 3. Now you can forget about limiting yourself to the hands for Early position simply because you will never be in any of the early positions because there are only seven players at your table.

Once you memorize the first chart and become more comfortable playing poker here’s a variation of the chart that allows you to play more hands:

Easy Poker Hand Chart - 2

The gray hands are the new optional hands to add. Essentially we add:

  • Ace hands before adding others (ie. AQ before KQ, AJ before KJ or QJ),
  • more pairs, all the way down to 22,
  • suited Aces at the end.

But adding these hands means that you need to be able to:

  • be comfortable playing with only overcards when you miss the flop,
  • be comfortable playing smaller pairs when an overcard comes on the flop,
  • not lose all your money when you play A5 suited and the flop comes A72 and your opponent has AT.

The hands in grey are good hands for those positions, but they are more difficult to play and win with.

So, memorize the chart, and go out and win some money! Poker is an EZ game!

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