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Selection Strategy
Selection Strategy

Poker MovesSelection Strategy

Starting Hand Selection Strategy

Starting hand selection strategy explained. You get two cards to start the hand in NLH. This is your starting hand. You need to determine each time if you starting hand is worth playing. Some starting hands are stronger than others.

Starting Hand Selection Explained

A Deeper Dive into Hand Selection - Jonathan Little (Poker Coaching)

Selection & Odds - Choosing Winning Hands Poker Strategy - Evan Jarvis (Gripsed Poker Training)

Texas Holdem Starting Hands Wiki - Wikipedia

Texas Holdem Starting Hands - Steve Badger

Hand Selection Styles


Tight refers to your hand selection strategy. A tight player, plays a smaller range of starting hand, usually in position.


Loose refers to your hand selection strategy. A loose player, plays a large range of starting hands, in or out of position.

Hand Strength

Simple tips to help determine your opponents hand and if you're ahead or not by asking yourself these questions.:

  • Am I ahead in the hand or behind in the hand?
  • Where does your hand sit strength wise?
  • Where do your opponents hand (likely) sit strength wise?

Opening Hands

Drawing Hands

Drill down further.

  • Is there a pair on the board?  Your opponent could have Two Pair, Three of a Kind, a Full House or Four of a Kind
  • Are there two of the same suit on the board?  Your opponent could have a Flush draw (or Straight Flush draw)
  • Are there three of the same suit on the board?  Your opponent could have a Flush (or Straight Flush) or a draw
  • Do two or more cards lineup by number or separated by one number?  Your opponent could have a Straight draw (or Straight Flush draw)
  • Do three or more cards lineup by number or separated by one number?  Your opponent could have a Straight (or Straight Flush) or a draw

Also, to betting:

  • How have they bet throughout the hand?
  • How do they react to your bets?
  • What are their tells?

Also, determine the nuts.  Calculate your outs to hit your hand (if you think your behind) and your pot odds to help you determine whether to call, bet, or fold.

  • Pre-Flop Position Range
  • Continue Ranges
  • Your Opponents Ranges
  • Open Frequency
  • Cut-Off Frequency

What are Strong Cards in NLH?

Strong starting cards is relative. A general idea is that strong cards are mostly big pairs down through TT or 99, AK suited and offsuit and sometimes AQs.

Most of your starting hands, fold. Let’s repeat that, because it is important. You should fold most of your starting texas holdem hands. Don’t get involved with mediocre hands that will lose big pots. It’s bad business. Here are some that you can consider playing depending on your table and your comfort level with them. This is a good article on the top 10 starting hands in holdem.

5 Bad Starting Hands Amateurs Love (But Pros Avoid) - BlackRain79Poker

Start with Strong Cards…

There is no exact rule as to exactly which cards you should play and which cards you should fold. The truth of the matter is, it depends. More of those pesky details we’ve mentioned before. Let’s just take your typical loose passive online game for example.

Pocket Pairs:

Any 2 hole cards that match up, Jh Js for example. Normally these hands are worth playing in most games. Medium to small pocket pairs can be tricky to play correctly. You get dealt pockets rarely enough that you really want to maximize your profit.

High Suited Connectors:

These cards have at least 3 things going for them. They have Flush potential, Straight potential and Top pair top kicker potential. On top of that, whenever the hand reaches its potential it is quite likely the nuts. For example. AK suited is a very strong hand. Also known as Big Slick. You should be betting this aggressively pre-flop. Note that KQ-s isn’t nearly as strong as AK-s. and QJ-s is even weaker. It is very easy to get out kicked or to land your flush draw but get dominated by someone holding A7-s. Be careful playing KQ/QJ-s in early position.

High Cards:

This will encompass the unsuited connectors, like AsKd and the one gappers, like AcQc. These hands have value in your poker arsenal, especially when you hold the A. If these are connected they add value to their potential. Remember, there is no hard fast rule as to which to play. In my book, the J is the lowest ‘High Card’ in the deck. Lot’s of people like to play A/10 and K/9. That’s a good thing for the rest of us. Remember, you want to fold most of your hands.

Suited Connectors:

9d/10d for example. These hands are sometimes worth playing from late position. These have straight potential and flush potential. Obviously the higher the connectors are the better. If you are late to act and there are lots of pre-flop callers this is a good time to play this hand. It is fairly weak on its own but it can turn into a giant with the right flop. You are looking for a straight or a flush, or even better a straight flush. I don’t recommend playing this hand if the pot has been raised/re-raised in front of you unless you’ve got a great read on your opponents and think that they are raising with junk. You’re probably way behind already and in most situations you should probably just fold.

So, how do you play these hands. In most cases, you play these starting hands aggressively.

Hand Strengths - Example Top 20 Pre-Flop NLH Hands To Play

This is an example of what a lot of players would consider the best available poker hands. These hands win in simulations most often. A general strategy could be to raise or re-raise (3-bet) pre-flop with the top 10 hands and do so in position with the next ten.

Top 10

  • AA
  • KK
  • QQ
  • AKso
  • JJ
  • 1010
  • 99
  • 88
  • AQso
  • 77

Next 10

  • 66
  • 55
  • 44
  • 33
  • 22
  • AXs
  • KQso
  • Suited Connectors
  • Suited 1 Gappers
  • Suited 2 Gappers

So, the best hands pre-flop break down like this:

  • Pairs (78 combinations)
  • AK (16)
  • AQ (16)
  • AXs (48)
  • KQ (16)
  • Suited Connectors
  • Suited 1 Gappers
  • Suited 2 Gappers

If you only played these hands, this would be your range.

Hand Ranges

You need to determine what your hand range is from each position on the poker table.

Poker Ranges Explained - Daniel Negreanu

MTT Early Stage Strategy Pre-Flop Ranges - MicroGrinder Poker School

PREFLOP Poker RANGES [How To STUDY & MEMORIZE Them] - Jonathan Little

Your Ranges

Your Opponents Ranges

Perfecting Ranges

Hand Reading

How to read your opponents hand by figuring out their hand range. Hand range funnel.

Hand Reading: The #1 Skill To Improve Your Poker Strategy Video - Alec Torelli (Conscious Poker)

The #1 Skill To Improve Your Poker Strategy: Hand Reading - Alec Torelli

Polarized vs Non-Polarized Ranges

Phil Galfond on Polarized Ranges Video by CardPlayer

Hand Range Charts

List charts here...