Texas Hold’em is widely considered one of the most classic varieties of poker. Whether or not it was actually one of the first styles played, when people ask you to play poker, you can pretty much just assume that they’re asking you to play Texas Hold’em.
The game itself is well-known for famous tournaments and can be associated with the tables in Las Vegas casinos. But there’s a lot more to the rise of Texas Hold’em and its popularity.
Unlike other casino games, Texas Hold’em is a game of strategy. This means that you can build up skills and familiarity, essentially increasing your chances of winning.
Its status as a strategy-based game puts it in high regard among players who love a challenge. Knowing that winning isn’t just a stroke of luck, players feel a heightened sense of control. And as players get better at strategizing and reading other players, their control over each game can potentially increase.
Texas Hold’em (and poker more generally) is also known for being kind of a mind game. What makes it so exciting is that this part of the game is so dynamic. As a player, you have to navigate the psychology of other players which changes between games and even as the conditions in a single poker game change.
So, unlike luck-based games, when playing Texas Hold’em you have to keep your head in the game and make sure you’re aware of the other players but that they aren’t as aware of you.
But there is a little bit of luck that comes into play. Though winning in a game of Texas Hold’em or any other form of poker requires a high level of skill, starting off with a great pair of hole cards can really ensure your win.
If you’re not familiar with some of the vocabulary in Texas Hold’em, ‘hole cards’ refer to the two cards that each player receives. In other varieties of poker, players can receive more than two hole cards, such as Omaha in which players have four.
Hole cards are contrasted with what is called ‘community cards.’ These are the cards that are displayed for all players. They’re the cards involved in ‘the flop,’ ‘the turn,’ and ‘the river.’
A good player knows how to play even when they have a bad set of hole cards. But these players also know that if they can have great cards to start off with, then that’s all the better.
So what are the best starting hands? Here are seven.
- Pocket Aces
- Pocket Kings
- Pocket Queens
- Pocket Jacks
- Ace – King suited
- Ace-Queen suited
- King – Queen suited
Now you might be wondering, how are these the best starting hands?
Well, to start off, each of these seven possible hands contains high cards. So, if no one has anything better than a high card (straight, pair, etc.), having the highest cards will ensure that you beat out at least most of the competition.
The first four starting hands also refer to having pairs of each highest card. So if you can’t make anything from the community cards, you at least have a high pair. They also put you in a good place for getting three of a kind.
Numbers five, six, and seven, all have the potential for a royal flush, a straight flush, a flush, and possibly even pairs. The royal flush is the rarest. It requires that you have an ace, king, queen, jack, and 10, all of the same suit.
Though the odds of getting a royal flush are so low, having these starting hands (five, six, seven) gives you a good shot at hands that are more common.
Having a great starting hand can also help you strategize. Since you don’t have to worry as much about people calling your bluff (because you aren’t), then you can start employing methods to get more money in the pot.
But of course, as mentioned before, poker isn’t about just having the best starting hand. Because what’s considered a great hand will also depend on what the community cards are. So, for example, if only numbered cards are revealed (i.e. no face cards), then the starting hands listed above might not help as much.
Poker, and specifically Texas Hold’em, really is a strategy and skill-based game. Researchers have even been able to program machines to find optimal moves, being able to beat even top poker players.
So, if you want to make sure you win in a game of poker, you can’t just be hoping to get good cards. You need to work on your strategy and critical thinking.
The best way to improve is to practice! And if you’re like most people, you probably don’t have a lot of time to travel to a casino and play poker all day or even host people at your home for friendly poker competitions.
Instead, you could try online poker. Websites like NJGamblingFun curate the best online poker legal offers in the US. So you can play a lot and save some money while you do.
Online poker sites offer a variety of poker styles and playing styles. You can play more than just Texas Hold’em and you also choose to play against a machine or against other people. If you have the guts, you can even try joining an online poker tournament.
While many people may be skeptical of online gambling, there have been many instances of people hitting jackpots and making huge wins.
One of these people is Doyle Brunson who won over $6.1 million playing online Texas Hold’em. It took a long time to build up the skill, but at one point, Little was winning around $100 per hour. He even quit his two minimum wage jobs and gave up his college scholarship to pursue poker full time.
Even if you don’t plan on going pro like Jonathan Little, knowing a little more about Texas Hold’em before going into your next game can help you navigate the dynamic and fluctuating setting.
Texas Hold’em is one of the most beloved games in the world, but if you’re constantly losing, it can get frustrating really quickly. With the seven starting hands mentioned previously, you’re sure to have a leg up in each game. But those hands are not enough – you should be working on your strategy too.