This is a modified list

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of starting hands that was posted on newsgroup for the poker game of holdem. This list is specifically for NL (no limit) holdem, but could also be used for Limit Holdem with some minor changes. This list follows the "tight is right" model and is highly mathematical. All good players have this list memorized- or some list that very closely resembles this one. The differences found between good holdem players in their playable hands can be primarily attributed to their playing style. Otherwise everything is the same. If you don't know this list, or another that is similar (and it would need to be one that was married to your playing style), then you are at a major disadvantage and will not know what to do and when to do it. This is the conservative style for tight aggressive players.

One note about starting hand lists for holdem: there is no definitive list. A starting hands' value depends on a number of variables, which include: table dynamics, number of players in the hand already, your position relative to the button and opponents who have entered the pot, the styles of those in the pot, or who could enter the pot (especially the two players to your immediate left), your stack size, the size of the blinds, and finally, whether or not the hand is better played in a multiway pot, or heads up. A starting hand either has a positive expectation in the particular situation when you hold that hand or it doesn't. It is often mathematically correct to play a hand in one round, then fold the exact same hand preflop in the next round. If your starting hand doesn't have a positive expectation for that moment, or if your hand doesn't have huge implied odds, then it should be folded.


Starting Hands:


All positions:

First in: Bet 3-4xBB, never raising 2xBB ~ you need to limit field and discourage drawing hands from entering pot, plus you don't want to give the random BB (big blind) a free shot at you.
All-in vs. any reraise, or, call the reraise and then checkraise all-in on the flop if out of position, depending on opponent.
Call any all-in obviously.

If limpers: the equation is to add up the pot, then add 2-4XBB and that is your bet. ie. blinds at 25/50, you have AA, there were 2 limpers ahead of you, your bet would be 100 (2 limpers calls) + 150 (3xBB) = 250


All Positions:

First in: Bet 3-4xBB ~ as with AA/KK you need to limit field and discourage drawing hands from entering pot, plus you don't want to give the random BB a free shot at you. Furthermore, you'll define the hands preflop if called or raised.
If reraised, especially at a full table, he's got one of 3 hands: AA, KK or AK, so proceed with caution and don't say you weren't warned.

If limpers: early in sng, ok to limp, however, if you decide to raise you must raise per equation for limpers (see above), otherwise, if you raise the typical NL raise of 3xBB (or worse) then you're giving limpers a free shot at you with pathetic preflop raise and one of the fish will outflop you. Don't say you weren't warned.

Play QQ aggressively preflop against the fish and LAGS.

JJ / TT / AKs / AQs / AKo / AQo

Early Position:

First in: raise 2.5-4xBB, the smaller the blinds, the more players, the larger the preflop raise. You want to play these hands heads up from early position since you'll be out of position postflop.

Middle Position:

First in: raise 2.5-4xBB
Limpers: follow equation for raising vs. limpers, however ok to limp with the pairs and suited AQ, but raise the suited AK and unsuited AK/AQ, as they play poorly in multi-way pots.

Raised pot: call raise in position, using position as raise and proceed with caution when you miss.

Late Position:

First in: raise 2.5-4xBB, never limping with these from late position in unopened pot
follow equation for raising vs. limpers. ok to limp with the pairs and suited AQ if blinds are small, but raise the suited AK and unsuited AK/AQ, as they play poorly in multi-way pots. also, raise or push all-in when blinds are large.

Raised pot: Call
Raise + reraised pot: fold AQ, call or push with all else (depends)


Raised pot: call or push or fold (depends), same with QQ, btw


Early Position (at full table):


Middle Position:

Raise unopened pot, limp vs limpers

Raised pot: Fold

Late Position:

First in: make typical raise
Limpers before: limp or fold in family pot with KQoff, call w/KQs
Raised pot: call/fold (depends)


Raised pot: easy fold at full table unless it's a blind steal. Call or reraise LAG raise coming from any position, especially while in BB and especially with KQ suited or not.


First in: limp at full table, raise short table

Raised pot: call small raise, reraise or push from blinds (depends)

Limpers: limp or raise


Play at your own risk.

The rest of the hands are trash hands (Kx suited), and are always fold-worthy at full tables.

The hands not discussed here, suited connectors, the connectors and gappers, are too difficult for most to play properly, and if you are familiar with starting hand values and the math behind playing each hand under all the different circumstances you'll face with each one, then you already know what to do and when to do it, so it would be redundant to discuss those specific hands here, and, those hands are really outside the scope of this list. "Tight is Right" - learn this list and you can't lose, as it's a mathematical certainty.