Beyond The Top Ten Starting Hands

t1riel

t1riel

Legend
As many of you know, I read a lot of poker related articles and mention them on this forum. I figure I'll try writing my own article. I was inspired by the Top Ten Trouble Starting hands thread I posted a few days ago. Tell me what you think:



Beyond The Top Ten Starting Hands

Many of you know what the Top Ten Starting Hands are and many books and articles tell you that you must raise with them preflop, sometimes regardless of position. What I'm going to be mentioning doesn't include the Top Ten Starting Hands. This is about the "other" starting hands that many poker players consider "great starting hands." I'm going to list some of these "great starting hands" and explain why they aren't as great as many think they are and how to play them.

K,Q

Why it isn't great: In my opinion, this hand is one of the most underrated hands in hold em. It looks like a good starting hand, hell it sure beats 3,9 and J,2. But, consider what you're actually holding. They are only slightly better than lower suited connectors and sometimes slight worse if they are unsuited. If you hit a pair of queens and kings on the flop, you would be in good shape. But, admit it. In the back of your mind, you worry about someone who has two pair or a higher kicker. If you hit a straight on the flop or turn, even better. But, only one ace is need to beat you (providing there isn't an ace on the board) and a lot of poker players treat and Ace like gold regardless of what the kicker is.

How to play them: This hand is great to limp in with but never to call a raise unless your in late position with no callers but even then it's a questionable call. Play with caution and don't invest too much with them. Personally, I rather have K, J.

A, 2

Why it isn't great: Besides the fact it has the lowest kicker wth the ace? Simple, the only way you can have a great hand is if two dueces are on the board. If they are suited, you might have a better chance to catch a flush. I know a lot of players consider this a great hand. What they don't realize is a connector or even a worse starting hand can beat it.

Let say you have Ah, 2h and call the big blind in early position and the flop was 4s, 3c, Js. Well, no flush but you got a straight draw. So, you bet and there are TWO raises. So, you call, The turn is a 6d. Well, that not the card you're looking for but you make a bet and there are another TWO raises. So, you call. The turn is a 5s. Great! You got the straight! So, you reraises the two raises. They both call. You got a big pot right?..right? Wrong. One player had 8s, 7s suited and the other has Js, 2s. You have the lowest hand. One player had the flush and a HIGHER Straight and the other player had the higher flush both with a garbage hand. Now, besides the fact you played the hand wrong, you also were blinded by the fact there are three of the same suit on the board becuase you were concentrating on the straight. If you had As, 2s, then you're golden and would have seen the flush becuase you have the highest card of a flush and possible striaght flush.

How to play them: If they aren't suited, they are not even worth the limp in call. If they are suited, play them if there are no big raises. Otherwise, fold.

J, Q, K, or A with a 10 Kicker

Why they aren't great: These hands are designed to get the straight that some poker players won't even see coming. While that's great, the odds of that happening are slim. Even if you catch a pair, you have to worry about someone having the same pair but with a better kicker. If they are suited, it may have greatr value due to the high cards. But, some poker players call big raises with these hands and it's no surprise that the flop rarely helps them.

How to play them: These are good to raise with in late position with little action. Also, they are great to call small raises and the big blind in early to middle position.

Low suited connectors (2,3 3,4 4,5)

Why they aren't great: I think some players love these because they may catch a straight flush with them. Well, how often do you see ANY straight flush? Exactly. Sure, you could catch a straight with them but you run into the same problem as mentioned in A,2. Sure, you could catch the flush but someone could very easily catch a higher flush.

How to Play Them: Don't.

I'm not saying NEVER play these starting hands, just don't think they are great starting hands you should play often as many of the poker players I know keep doing. Basically, I'm saying proceed with caution. Don't be fooled by how they look. Use logic.

By: Timothy Riel



This is the first poker article I've written and you're the first to see it. You may disagree with some of this and remember, it is a first draft. Tell me what you think. Thanks!:hello:
 
twizzybop

twizzybop

Legend
I like but if I may just add something about the K,Q.. yes you are afraid someone has a higher kicker. Yet that kicker has to be an Ace.. so you are either dealing with the A,K or A,Q. The norm for those cards is a pre-flop raise cause most know limping in with A,K or A,Q with others is almost a sin.

K,Q reminds me of A,Q... nice starting hand but either hurts you or helps you.
 
L

Luske

Guest
Very nice article. I agree completely, even though I think your being a little hard on KQ. If you made 9-K straight on turn or river, and are beaten by an ace, chances are you held top pair or top 2 pair, and the other guy was drawing expensively to an inside straight. Not a common situation and worth being sucked out on once in a while.

My favourite overrated starting hand is not here, though. JQ is grossly overrated IMO. It has all the same problems you mention about KQ, except so much worse. There are a lot of hands that dominate it, and they aren't easily spottet by a big preflop raise. On top of that, drawing it to a straight will often be too expensive with those high cards on the board.
 
G

guitarizt

Rising Star
Talk about being pessimistic. That person must be tight as a rock. I'll play kq all day long as long as people keep playing k2. They even raise with k7.
 
Beriac

Beriac

Guest
I dunno, I think you need to play KQ and those cards, but I agree they should be on the "caution" list. If you're dealt KQ and you see 3 re-raises, I'm not sure if I want a part of that. Even catching the Q or K pair I'll be nervous. And if you don't catch your pair or flush draw or straight draw or whatever, I agree with t1riel that you need to dispense of hands like this immediately. At best they are a limp-in/call/fold on the flop, at worst they are a second-best hand and your demise.

I think "don't ever play these" is too strong, but I wouldn't purposely throw all my money into the pot on them either.
 
t1riel

t1riel

Legend
t1riel said:
I'm not saying NEVER play these starting hands, just don't think they are great starting hands you should play often as many of the poker players I know keep doing. Basically, I'm saying proceed with caution. Don't be fooled by how they look. Use logic.


Beriac, did you even read the last paragraph? I never said "don't ever play these."
 
S

slost

Guest
I have a diffrent opinion on K Q hand. Play for a raise preflop in late position. If you get an A on the flop put out a bet that look like you are trying to get called. People will put you on the A If they call you might get to draw for the st8 for cheep because they fear your kicker (assuming the A) or you may take the pot without a call. Even an A with a low kicker has to worry, You did raise pre flop.
 
joshyb20

joshyb20

Visionary
"Low suited connectors (2,3 3,4 4,5)

Why they aren't great: I think some players love these because they may catch a straight flush with them. Well, how often do you see ANY straight flush? Exactly. Sure, you could catch a straight with them but you run into the same problem as mentioned in A,2. Sure, you could catch the flush but someone could very easily catch a higher flush.

How to Play Them: Don't."

Oh how Mr. Brunson would disagree.....
 
Beriac

Beriac

Guest
t1riel said:
[/left]

Beriac, did you even read the last paragraph? I never said "don't ever play these."

I wasn't suggesting that you had. My post in general and my specific comment (I think "don't ever play these" is too strong, but I wouldn't purposely throw all my money into the pot on them either.) was directed at the poster immediately above me.

Sorry for the misunderstanding.
 
R

ratus

Enthusiast
well very interesting
i have to go back on it (due to my poor english)
anyway thanks to share:)
 
D

donkeykiller

Enthusiast
I wished everyone would read this post maybe the fish wouldnt be so fishy.

What about the Ax you forgot those hands and people just chase them down to river with bad kixcker and usually get the horrible kicker on the river to kill the peron with TPTK lol
 
D

drawingneardead

Guest
"Low suited connectors (2,3 3,4 4,5)

Why they aren't great: I think some players love these because they may catch a straight flush with them. Well, how often do you see ANY straight flush? Exactly. Sure, you could catch a straight with them but you run into the same problem as mentioned in A,2. Sure, you could catch the flush but someone could very easily catch a higher flush.

How to Play Them: Don't."

Oh how Mr. Brunson would disagree.....

DB is a master @ not paying players off when he makes a 2nd best hand. We don't all have those skills yet. The best spot to avoid dicey situations is before the flop. I agree with t1riel's original take on these hands. Play em for the cost of the blinds when possible, but do not call raises with them. Keep them easy to lay down on the flop.

I have actually never heard of the top 10 strategy. I have heard of the top 15. All PP's, AK, and AQ. Phil Hellmuth Jr. details a strategy like this is his book.

This is a great place to start because you get a great risk/reward ratio with these hands. As you get more comfortable, you will add Axs, sometimes Kxs, and medium suited connectors to your game.

While learning the nuances of the game, limiting your range is essential. The idea is to maximize your strong points and minimize your weak points until you can identify and address them.

In live games, many players lose consistantly because they fail to limit thier play. They apply position play and pot odds to thier decision making, which is good, but not enough until they have developed thier reading skills more.

Limiting your play helps you avoid situations that you are not yet prepared to handle. It also keeps you at the table much longer, allowing you to hone your skills much more (per buy in).

The nature of cash games dictates that a player can pick his battles. Failing to do so will keep you from both winning and improving your play. Get to the point where you can sit @ the casino all day with little risk, and your game will take off from there.

Great post!
 
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