Written by: Dave Colclough (2004-10-12 18:19:38)
In an earlier article I suggested the sort of hands that you should, or should not be playing. In the next couple of articles I will deal with starting hands more specifically. As with all aspects of poker there really aren't any specific rules, so the following is only a suggested guide. It is also more relevant to Limit Hold'em, where playing the correct cards will grind out a winning strategy most of the time, if your discipline can outlast the 'luck rollercoaster'. In No Limit Hold'em it could be argued that you can play any cards if the position, state of the game, and depth of chips is great enough. Even in NLH though, it is probably best not to waiver too far from the following... unless your name is Gus Hansen or David Ulliot.
I'll split the hand types into three: pocket pairs, suited cards and unsuited cards. The following suggestions are probably most suited to an average 9 handed $2/$4 table, where it is neither an aggressive, or very tight line up. Slight adjustments would have to be made if the game became too tight, and likewise if the game became a little wild.
Pocket Pairs and Limit Hold em.
* Aces, Kings, Queens - Play, raise and re-raise at every opportunity in any position, any amount of players. Don't 4-bet Queens against very tight opponents
* Jacks, Tens, Nines - Play and raise in any position. Only re-raise in late position against 1 opponent. If there are three or four opponents after the flop, you will need to be holding an overpair or a set.
* Eights, Sevens - Play in un-raised pots. Only raise in heads up situations such as the blinds. Heads up, you are likely to win with just the pair of eights. Against two opponents or more, you need help on the flop.
* Sixes, Fives - Pass in early position to a raise. Pass in early position if there is likely to be a raise behind you. Call in late position, preferably against several opponents where you are getting a good return should you flop a set. Only raise in the blinds heads up against weak opponents.
* Fours, Threes and Twos - Pass in early position. Only play in pots where there are at least three opponents (e.g.two limpers and a big blind). Always try and avoid playing these hands unless you are last to act after the flop.
Dave 'El Blondie' Colclough is the European Poker Player of the Year. He is sponsored by bet365poker, part of the bet365 Group Limited, one of the world's leading betting and gaming groups. Dave writes a weekly column full of poker tips and his experiences playing professionally.
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Read part 2 of this article Playable hands part 2