The Best Starting Hands in Poker (and 3 to Avoid)

Did you know that poker started in the 1800s in Louisiana? Are you looking to start poker and want an edge on the competition?

This article will show you the best starting hands in poker as well as the not so great hands. Read on to discover these top hands to set yourself up for a higher chance of winning. 

Starting Hand

While it’s important to know which hands are great to start out with, there’s some debate about which one is the ultimate hand. It’s vital to learn more such as the rules of the game, the table’s conditions, and understand the strategy besides knowing the best hand. 

1. Ace-Ace

If you start out with 2 aces it’s also known as pocket rockets. This is considered the best hand for Texas Hold’Em. Pay attention to how many players are involved since an increased amount can mean a higher chance of being beat. 

They’re considered the best pocket cards but you can lose to 2 pairs of another card. This is a rare but exciting combination, to begin with. 

2. King-King

The second best pairing not far behind 2 aces is 2 kings. Keep in mind that if an ace falls on the flop then you’ll lose to anyone who has just 1 ace. While having 2 kings is a strong hand, it’s not unbeatable. 

3. Queen-Queen

If you have a pair of queens it’s also known as ladies. Be careful because if a king or ace comes on the flop then you could lose.

4. Jack-Jack

While a pair of jacks or queens isn’t the best hand, it’s rare someone else will come along with kings and aces. It’s a good idea to raise when you have a pair of jacks or queen. 

5. Ace-King

A pairing of an ace and king is known as the big slick, and suited it’s known as the super slick. This pairing can dominate other hands including AT, AJ, AQ, and many others. 

6. Ace-Queen

An ace-queen is also known as little slick or big chick. You’ll have the chance to reach a royal flush, nut flush, straight, or high pair. 

7. Jack-Jack

If you have a pair of jacks it’s also known as fishhooks or hooks. This is a great pairing but it can be easily beat by pairs of queens, kings, and aces. If those come on the flop be cautious. 

8. King-Queen

This is a suited royal couple and while it’s not number 1, it’s still pretty strong. You could get a flush with this pairing. It won’t be a nut flush unless a suited ace is on the flop. 

Suited Cards

While suited cards are a great pairing, don’t make the rookie mistake of playing any 2 cards because they happen to be suited. You could have a bad hand even if the pairing happens to be suited. 

Raised Pot

Pay close to attention to whether a pot has been raised or not since this will determine whether to play your starting hand. Your choice of starting hands should change when the pot has been raised. 

The Number of Players

How strong your hand is also depends on the numbers of players involved in the game. A good hand can increase your chances when there are fewer players involved. Your odds can be decreased when there are more players in the game. 


Your position at the table during the game will also determine what cards you should play. The later you go in betting, the better your position is. That means most of the other plays have gone already, and then you get to decide your chances of winning with your current hand. 

Your position should greatly decide what you hold and fold. Keep in mind the raised pot, number of players, and your position for when you should play a hand. Each game of poker is unique and depends on this. 

You won’t always want to play a strong hand, because depending on who went before you, they might have a stronger hand than you. It’s about following the patterns, what’s played, the table, your cards, and then determining whether to play your hand.

Beginner’s Advice

Try to only play the top pairings listed above. You’ll want to fold when you have a bad hand such as the worst hand you can have. It’s important to remember that a strong hand doesn’t mean you’ll definitely win and a weak hand doesn’t mean you’ll lose. 

As you play and learn the strategy of the game, you’ll want to learn how your position affects your starting hand decisions. 

Worst Hands

While it’s important to know what poker hands to play, it’s also important to know what not to play. Remember that a bad hand doesn’t mean you’ll definitely lose. They do minimize your chances of winning though.

You’ll want to think about folding early if your hand happens to be:

  • An ace or face card with an unsuited low card 
  • A 2 or 3 with a 7 or 8 (you can’t make a straight)
  • Unmatched unsuited low cards (5 and 8, 4 and 7)

 It might seem overwhelming at first learning about these hands but it’ll be worth it to know when to hold them or fold them. 

Discovering the Best Starting Hands in Poker

It’s vital to learn the best starting hands in poker as well as the worst. Now that you’ve learned them, it’s important to truly understand each pairing and understand the patterns of the game. 

Would you like to learn more about poker and entertainment? Check out our other articles. 


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