Bookmark Website  | Free Registration  | The Team
The Lounge  | Champions  | The Wire |  Schedule |  Audio  |  Arcade  |  The Top Ten  |  Historical  |  Email  |  Video

Texas Holdem Poker Tournament Strategy - Starting Hands


Welcome to the fifth in my Texas Holdem Poker Strategy Series, focusing on no limit Texas Holdem poker tournament play and associated strategies. In this article, we'll examine starting hand decisions.

It may seem obvious, but deciding which starting hands to play, and which ones to skip playing, is one of the most important Texas Holdem poker decisions you'll make. Deciding which starting hands to play begins by accounting for several factors:

* Starting Hand "groups" (Sklansky made some good suggestions in his classic "Theory of Poker" book by David Sklansky)

* Your table position

* Number of players at the table

* Chip position

Sklansky originally proposed some Texas Holdem poker starting hand groups, which turned out to be very useful as general guidelines. Below you'll find a "modified" (enhanced) version of the Sklansky starting hands table. I adapted the original Sklansky tables, which were "too tight" and rigid for my liking, into a more playable approach that are used in the Poker Sidekick poker odds calculator. Here's the key to these starting hands:

Groups 1 to 8: These are essentially the same scale as Sklansky originally proposed, although some hands have been shifted around to improve playability and there is no group 9.

Group 30: These are now "questionable" hands, hands that should be played rarely, but can be reasonably played occasionally in order to mix things up and keep your opponents off balance. Loose players will play these a bit more often, tight players will rarely play them, experienced players will open with them only occasionally and randomly.

The table below is the exact set of starting hands that Poker Sidekick uses when it calculates starting poker hands. If you use Poker Sidekick, it will tell you which group each starting hand is in (if you can't remember them), along with estimating the "relative strength" of each starting hand. You can just print this article and use it as a starting hand reference.

Group 1: AA, KK, AKs

Group 2: QQ, JJ, AK, AQs, AJs, KQs

Group 3: TT, AQ, ATs, KJs, QJs, JTs

Group 4: 99, 88, AJ, AT, KQ, KTs, QTs, J9s, T9s, 98s

Group 5: 77, 66, A9s, A5s-A2s, K9s, KJ, KT, QJ, QT, Q9s, JT, QJ, T8s, 97s, 87s, 76s, 65s

Group 6: 55, 44, 33, 22, K9, J9, 86s

Group 7: T9, 98, 85s

Group 8: Q9, J8, T8, 87, 76, 65

Group 30: A9s-A6s, A8-A2, K8-K2, K8-K2s, J8s, J7s, T7, 96s, 75s, 74s, 64s, 54s, 53s, 43s, 42s, 32s, 32

All other hands not shown (virtually unplayable).

So, those are the enhanced Sklasky Texas Holdem poker starting hand tables.

The later your position at the table (dealer is latest position, small blind is earliest), the more starting hands you should play. If you're on the dealer button, with a full table, play groups 1 thru 6. If you're in middle position, reduce play to groups 1 thru 3 (tight) and 4 (loose). In early position, reduce play to groups 1 (tight) or 1 thru 2 (loose). Of course, in the big blind, you get what you get.

As the number of players drops into the 5 to 7 range, I recommend tightening up overall and playing far fewer, premium hands from the better positions (groups 1 - 2). This is a great time to forget about chasing flush and straight draws, which puts you at risk and wastes chips.

As the number of players drops to 4, it's time to open up and play far more hands (groups 1 - 5), but carefully. At this stage, you're close to being in the money in a Texas Holdem poker tournament, so be extra careful. I'll often just protect my blinds, steal occasionally, and try to let the smaller stacks get blinded or knocked out (putting me into the money). If I'm one of the small stacks, well, then I'm forced to pick the best hand I can get and go all-in and hope to double-up.

When the play is down to 3, it's time to avoid engaging with big stacks and hang on to see if we can land 2nd place, heads-up. I tend to tighten up a bit here, playing very similar to when there's just 3 players (avoiding confrontation unless I'm holding a pair or an Ace or a King, if possible).

Once you're heads-up, well, that's a topic for a completely different article, but in general, it's time to become extraordinarily aggressive, raise a lot, and become "pushy".

In tournaments, it's always important to keep track of your chips stack size relative to the blinds and everyone else's stacks. If you're short on chips, then play far fewer hands (tigher), and when you do get a good hand, extract as many chips as you can with it. If you're the big stack, well, you should avoid unnecessary confrontation, but use your big stack position to push everyone around and steal blinds occasionally as well - without risking too many chips in the process (the other players will be trying to use you to double-up, so be careful).

Well, that's a quick overview of an improved set of starting hands and some general rules for adjusting starting hand play based upon game conditions throughout the tournament.

Until next time, best of luck to you at the Texas Holdem poker tables!

Rick

Rick Braddy is an avid writer, Texas Holdem player and professional software developer and marketer for over 25 years. His websites and Texas Holdem poker software helps people become better Texas Holdem players. If you're a poker player, be sure to visit his Texas Holdem poker poker today and learn how you can play better Texas Holdem poker, too.


MORE RESOURCES:

Boston Globe

Future of casino gambling in SE Mass. the topic at Gaming Commission meeting ...
MetroWest Daily News
... Mass. the topic at Gaming Commission meeting today ... Framingham man charged with lewd behavior on Green Line train ... Morning Minutes, April 17 ... Future of casino gambling in SE Mass. the topic at Gaming Commission meeting today. email · print.
Gaming Commission alters SE Mass. casino investment threshold, delays other ...Wicked Local Bridgewater
Anti-Casino Activist Says MGM's License Delay Request Is Evidence Of Eroding ...WAMC
MGM wants Massachusetts regulators to slow fee collection for casinoLas Vegas Review-Journal
MassLive.com
all 124 news articles »


VIDEO: No Applicants for Saipan Casino Gambling License, Yet; Deadline to ...
Pacific News Center
VIDEO: No Applicants for Saipan Casino Gambling License, Yet; Deadline to Apply is Monday · Print E-mail. Last Updated on Thursday, 17 April 2014 17:52 Written by PNC Saipan Correspondent Mark Rabago Thursday, 17 April 2014 17:24. Guam News ...

and more »


What's it take to apply for a NY casino gambling license: money and an ...
Albany Business Review
The state is imposing a tough, thorough and, officials say, transparent vetting process for awarding up to four licenses upstate, including at least one in the Albany/Saratoga region. The rules are understandable considering the lucrative nature of the ...

and more »


Casino gambling in Florida
Sun-Sentinel
Oops…the big international gambling conglomerates rolled snake eyes this session. It looks like they'll have to contol their appetites for another year while our Legislature gets its act together. Vegas-style gambling will undoubtedly rear its head ...



New Hampshire Business Review

Lure of casino gambling remains fool's gold
New Hampshire Business Review
Far from addressing our long-term fiscal challenges, the adverse financial, social and regulatory consequences of casino gambling would merely exacerbate them. Anybody with even a basic knowledge of finance or the casino industry knows that gambling is ...

and more »


SFGate

Indian casino gambling revenue growth is slowing, report says
Los Angeles Times
The economy may have dug itself out of the worst recession in a generation, but gamblers apparently are still reluctant to put their money at risk in U.S. Indian casinos. Gambling revenue at tribal casinos slowed in 2012, growing at a slower pace than ...
Alabama Indian casino gambling growth slowsTimes Daily
Report: Oklahoma tribal gambling revenue risesNative Times

all 307 news articles »


Philly.com

More states find bets on casino gambling aren't paying off as hoped
Crain's Cleveland Business (blog)
Thirty-nine states have casino gambling of some kind, up from only two in 1988, and more Las Vegas-style resorts are on the way in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Maryland, the news service reports. “They have saturation problems,” says ...
Local Casinos Are a Losing BetBusinessweek
Revenue growth slowing at Indian casinosFall River Herald News

all 50 news articles »


Newsmakers 3/21/2014: Ernie Almonte, casino gambling in Mass.
Providence Eyewitness News
On the second half of Newsmakers Providence College professor Dr. Patrick Kelly and UMass Dartmouth professor Dr. Clyde Barrow join Tim White and Ted Nesi to discuss the impact of casino gambling in Massachusetts on Rhode Island. From the fiscal to ...

and more »


Capital Beat: Reading the tea leaves on casino gambling (and more)
Concord Monitor
When a bill legalizing a single casino lost by 29 votes in the New Hampshire House two weeks ago, Steve Duprey, a leading anti-casino voice, called the vote a “silver stake” in the heart of casino proposals – a final defeat in a 16-year battle to bring ...

and more »


Casino Gambling Bill Gets House Hearing Today
Patch.com
Casino Gambling Bill Gets House Hearing Today. The bill would legalize up to 5,000 slots and 240 table games at two casino locations. Posted by Dan Tuohy , April 10, 2014 at 05:45 AM. Comment4 2. More. Repost; Print this page · Email; Flag as ...
New casino bill before NH House committeeSeacoastonline.com

all 20 news articles »

Google News


Advertisement



Section Site Map - Submit News - Feedback - Comments - Advertise with Us

Copyright 2006 Luminati Inc. All rights reserved.