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No Limit Hold'em

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No-Limit Texas Hold'em: Basic Starting Hands

When you start out playing No-Limit Texas Hold'em it is best to avoid playing marginal hands, as you will have to do a lot of guessing which will leave you vulnerable. If you have never played NL before, it is recommended that you restrict yourself to only playing pairs AA-22, AK and AQ. With these hands, you will not find yourself caught in many difficult situations and you can still win big pots. Playing only these hands requires a great deal of discipline since you will not be involved in many pots. Playing with this strategy will provide you with a lot of time to study the game and observe the players as you play.

This table shows minimum required hands per position in a semi-tight/semi-aggressive game.




General Pre-Flop Advice


* Most of the time you should raise/re-raise with top-pairs (AA-QQ) and top connectors (AK, AQs) in order to make low-pairs and various connectors pay to see flops against you. Remember, they will often have the opportunity to double up on you if they hit (although many beginners do not realize this and fold too often pre-flop).
* Stick to the premium hands (see table of minimum required hands). You will pay dearly to "chase" with second-best hands in NL.
* Keep most raises down to between 70% and 100% (making it 3 times the big blind to go typically equals an 80% pot bet) in order to save money when you get re-raised or called by stronger holdings. If there are limpers in front of you, raise to about 4-6 times the big blind.
* Have respect for strong tight players (for example, you should drop AQ if a strong player raises under the gun).
* When very weak players have entered the pot, be inclined to call and take flops with them.
* Mostly raise or re-raise with AA-QQ, AK and AQs in any position.
* Basically, all other starting hands are limping hands. And though you might re-raise with them when you are defending your blinds, you might also raise with these hands when you are first in from a late position.
* Occasionally mix up your play by raising/calling/re-raising with hands you would not usually play. It is preferable to avoid becoming too predictable.