In Texas Holdem is very important to know exactly which hands you should be playing. The biggest problem most newbies have is playing too many hands. You should be playing considerably fewer than 30% of the hands you are dealt to be successful. Here’s a guide to give you a brighter idea of which hands to play.
The table of Sklansky
The popular poker author David Sklansky created a table to help you determine which hands are playable in Texas Holdem. With some slight variations, most poker professionals agree with these hand rankings below:
Group 1: AA, KK, QQ, JJ, AKs
Group 2: TT, AQs, AJs, KQs, AK
Group 3: 99, JTs, QJs, KJs, ATs, AQ
Group 4: T9s, KQ, 88, QTs, 98s, J9s, AJ, KTs
Group 5: 77, 87s, Q9s, T8s, KJ, QJ, JT, 76s, 97s, Axs, 65s
Group 6: 66, AT, 55, 86s, KT, QT, 54s, K9s, J8s, 75s
Group 7: 44, J9, 64s, T9, 53s, 33, 98, 43s, 22, Kxs, T7s, Q8s
Group 8: 87, A9, Q9, 76, 42s, 32s, 96s, 85s, J8, J7s, 65, 54, 74s, K9, T8, 43
These groups are not too hard to learn, and they are generally a good guide to determine which hands are the strongest.
What does it mean?
In early position, you should only be playing hands in Group 1, Group 2, Group 3 and Group 4. In middle position you can add Group 5 and Group 6, and in late position Group 7 and Group 8.
Of course you should adjust these requirements based on the type of game. In a loose passive game, you can expand your starting requirements, and in a tight aggressive game you probably want to do the opposite way.
These groups are optimal for Fixed Limit games, in which your winnings have a direct relationship to the value of your hand combined with the odds of it.
In a No Limit game, where there is no restriction on the amount you can win with any particular hand, you can play a wider variety of hands.
If it’s hard to you to remember the table, a good rule is that if you stick to hands in the Ace through Ten zone, giving more priority the higher the cards are and adding slightly to the value if your cards are suited or connected, you will have a pretty good foundation for playing the right amount of starting hands.