Best Starting Hands in Poker

Texas Hold’em poker is the most popular variant of poker in casinos all over the world. It became the most played game in the US after its appearance in movies and widespread availability on the internet.

Due to the skills needed, the game has inspired several strategy books that can help you get started. But to become the best, you must know the best starting hands in poker. Thus, we have gathered all the information you need about the best Texas Hold’em poker hands to help all players improve their strategies. 

Best Starting Hands in Texas Hold’Em Poker 

In Texas Hold’em poker, you can be dealt 169 different starting hands. However, finding out the best starting hand can be a challenging task. Cards are distributed according to their number and suit; pairs of these cards are called connected suits and unconnected suits or pairs.

The main difference between these hands is your suit. For example, if you have nine clubs and eight clubs, you have a “connected suit.” But, if you have five clubs and nine clubs, it means you have a suit, but it’s not connected because numbers are missing between five and nine.

Poker players often look for connected suits or cards as their starting hand because the smaller the gap between cards, the stronger your hand. For example, if you have seven and eight, you can make a connected suite with four, five, six, or nine, 10, and Jack. But if the gap between your starting hands is bigger, it won’t be easy to match them with other cards in the game. 

Starting Hands─ The Main Group 

Best starting hands in Texas Hold’em poker are also called premium hands. However, they vary as the best hand in poker depends on your playing strategy and game plan. But, without further ado, let’s explore the best starting hands in poker. 

Group 1: AA and KK 

These two starting hands are game-changers in Texas Hold’em poker. Getting straight Aces or Kings is a once in 110 hands opportunity; therefore, players don’t often get them. Ace’s are the best starting hands in poker, closely followed by King’s. 

However, even Aces and Kings can lose when you’re playing against multiple opponents. Therefore, you should be raising preflop to narrow the field. In addition, you shouldn’t get carried away when playing Kings because an Ace can supersede your cards, causing you to lose the game. 

Group 2: QQ, JJ, AK 

Queens and Jacks are excellent starting hands that can give you an edge over other players. Although Ace and Kings can beat them, they’re favourable against other hands. When players are dealt Queens and Jacks, the odds of your opponent having Aces and Kings are mostly low. So always play these cards strong and aim to raise with them.

Ace and King paired are known as the Big Slick. But when suited, the Ace-king hand is called Super Slick. The beauty of the Ace-king hand is that it dominates most hands in Texas Hold’em poker. 

When A, K, Q, J, and 10 belong to the same suit, it’s called a Royal Flush, the highest hand in Texas Hold’em Poker. Therefore, if you can form this combination, you’re bound to win. 

Group 3: TT, AK, AQ, AJ, and KQ

This group of starting hands is also a strong set, and you should aim to raise pre-flop with these. This is because you have face cards, which improves your chances of forming a Straight Flush or a Royal Flush. 

We have already explained the power of A-K, but A-Q and A-J are also strong starting hands. They can easily overcome any hand followed by a King or Queen. This is because your face card is an Ace, the strongest individual card in Texas Hold’em poker. However, despite their strength, you should be careful with K-Q hands because they can easily fold to a re-raise. 

Poker Hands From Highest to Lowest 

A poker-hand ranking system underpins all game forms and helps players determine which hand is the strongest. Poker hands are used in all types of poker games, like Texas Hold ’em or Omaha poker. Therefore, learning the strength of every hand is essential if you are serious about winning. 

So, let’s explore all Texas Hold’em hands.

  • The Royal Flush 

If you want to win a Texas Hold’em game without breaking a sweat, then a Royal Flush can help. This hand is unbeatable and sits atop all Texas Hold’em poker hands. It features five consecutive cards from the same suit. The rarity of this hand makes it the most powerful in poker.

  • Straight Flush 

A Straight Flush is a second-highest hand in Texas Hold’em poker, and it can only be cancelled by a Straight Flush of higher cards or a Royal Flush. 

The Straight Flush consists of five consecutive numbers of the same suit. But, if the five consecutive numbers start from 10 and end at Ace, you have a Royal Flush. Otherwise, you are holding the second most powerful hand in the game.

  • Four of a Kind 

Four of a Kind is a hand with the same card from different suits. For example, if you have four Aces and one random card, you have a Four of a Kind hand. If two players have Four of a Kind, the winner will be the one with the highest pair of four cards. For example, four Queens can easily cancel four Jacks. 

  • Full House 

A Full House has three cards of the same value from different suits and two other cards of the same value and different suits. When more than one player has a Full House, the winner’s hand is determined by whose triplets has the highest value. For example, three eights beat three fours. 

How Many Poker Hands Rankings Are There? 

According to Texas Hold’em rules, there are 10 poker hands, ranging from the strongest to the weakest. However, poker isn’t all about luck. It’s a strategic game that involves understanding, countering, and overwhelming your opponents. Aside from having a strong hand, you need to carefully read your opponents and determine whether they are bluffing or have a stronger hand.

Is Three-Pair a Poker Hand?

Three pair is an expression used by poker players to define their two pair hands. Of course, three pairs is an impossible hand in Texas Hold’em because it means you are playing with six cards. For example, 55,44,33. But Texas Hold’em poker only allows five cards. 

However, in Omaha poker, expressing that you have three pairs is important because it increases your chances of making a Full House by the river.  

What’s the Best Hand in Poker?

Poker hands are ranked based on their rarity of occurrence. Therefore, a Royal Flush is the best hand in poker because you hold Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and 10 of the same suit, which happens rarely. 

What Are the Odds of Getting a Royal Flush?

The odds of getting a Royal Flush are extremely low. You have approximately one in 2,598,960 chances to score a Royal Flush. So if you are lucky and have a Royal flush in your hands, get ready to win big!

Who Is the First to Bet in Texas Hold’Em?

The first round of betting begins after all the players have been dealt two hole cards. The player to the left of the Big Blind has to place the first bet, and the series of betting continues onwards.

How Many Different Starting Hands Are There in Poker?

Texas Hold’em poker is an exciting game with many opportunities to form a strong hand, which is why poker involves more strategy than luck. Overall, there are approximately 1,326 possible opening hand combinations.

What Is Pre-flop?

The pre-flop is the second stage of Texas Hold’em poker that starts after the Big and Small Blind bets have been placed.

The cards distributed at the beginning are private, and players shouldn’t disclose them to each other. The players have a chance to look at the cards in hand and decide whether they would like to raise the value (bet) offered in the Blind Bet or continue (call) with the same bets as the Big Blind or leave the game (fold).

Each player on the table has to choose one of the three options mentioned. If one of the players raises the bet, the others must follow the same amount. Otherwise, they can quit the game by folding but lose all the money they bet. Therefore, most players continue the game and test out their luck.

If the betting goes above their anticipation, it means the player raising the value has better cards. As a result, players with a low starting hand often fold before they lose too much money. 

What Hands Should I Play in Poker Pre-flop? 

Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to this question. Poker is a game based on strategic decision-making, reading your opponent’s face, and Texas Hold’em hand rankings. However, the ideal hands should be Big Pocket pairs like Ace-Ace, King-King, or Queen-Queen.

Sometimes, players with a two-pair hand force Straight Flush players to fold because they display brilliant confidence. Therefore, it’s hard to say which hand you should play in poker pre-flop unless you know your poker hand strength.

The Rest of the Top Hold’Em Hands

Besides the hand rankings mentioned above, there are other hands you can make that will keep you in the game: 


Five cards of the same suit in any order is called a flush. When more than one player has flush, the hand with the highest numbers wins. 


A Straight is when you have five cards of sequential value from different suits. In a Straight, an Ace can act as a face card higher than King or a one; but it can’t play both roles simultaneously. So, for example, if you have Ace, two, three, four, five, Ace will be counted as “one.” 

Three of a Kind 

A hand with three cards of the same value from different suits is a Three of a Kind hand. If more than one player has Three of a Kind, the two highest cards besides the three wins.

Two Pairs 

Two Pairs happens when you have two different pairs from two suits. For example, you may have nine spades and nine hearts, as well as a King clover and King hearts. 


A Pair when you have two numerically matching cards. According to Texas hold’em rules, the remaining three cards decide the winner when two players have a pair. 

High Card 

The high card is the highest card in your hand, with Ace being the highest and two being the lowest. When you are out of luck and don’t have any of the hands mentioned above, your High Card will determine your winning or losing position. 

Ace Jack Suited 

Ace Jack suited is a dangerous hand that can either make you a millionaire or bankrupt in one go. Since Ace Jack suited can lead to various options like a Royal Flush, Two Pair, or High Card.

Since the gap between Ace and Jack is optimum for different variations of poker hands, you can raise the bet and see how the game goes. However, Ace Jack suited isn’t a hand you should fold in the pre-flop stage.

What Percentage of Starting Hands Should I Play?

Unless you have a very good reason not to, you should stick to the top 10 winning hands in poker. If you’re playing against experienced players, they will call your bluff or hit to make you fold, even if they have a smaller hand.

Poker has different hands, and veteran players know the hierarchy of poker hands. Therefore, if you have the slightest doubt about what poker hands to play, you should fold and learn the game before you bet big.

Pocket Pairs

In Poker, when you are dealt two cards of the same value, such as 2-2 or A-A, it means you have a pocket pair. A 2-2 might not be the best starting hand in poker, but it can create a different hand. The value of these hands is vastly different, but they belong to the same category, as we will explain below.   

Types of Pocket Pairs

Most poker books recognize three types of pocket pairs. These pocket pairs determine the available poker hands to play. Here is a comprehensive explanation of all three pocket pairs: 

Small Pocket Pairs 

A small poker pair is 2-2 or 4-4. They’re difficult to play because they have a lot of potential, but only if you hit the correct flop. However, the flop you desire doesn’t occur nearly as often as you want it. A plan with a general small pocket pair is relatively simple. You would want a flop as cheaply as possible, meaning the flop you are looking for should be visible before hitting your third or fourth bet. 

The odds of flopping a set with any pair is one in 7.5, which means 12%. It might seem like a reasonable percentage, but the odds against you are 88%, and the flop you are looking for won’t be on the table as often as you want.

Medium Pocket Pair 

Medium pocket pair is a set of two similar cards ranking seven and above. Developing a strategy for medium-pocket cards is hard because the opportunities are endless, and landing the flop you need becomes difficult. In addition, when there are too many options, players lose focus and ultimately sacrifice their game without watching the cards unfold.

Premium Pocket Pairs 

As the name suggests, this is the best poker pair you can have in the game. Although Jacks are considered marginal, other cards in this par are relatively strong. A premium pocket pair is probably the best starting hand in Poker. Moreover, a Q-Q, K-K, or an A-A increases your poker hands’ probability of scoring a win.

What Percentage of Hands Do Good Poker Players Win?

Poker winning percentage depends on the stakes you are betting. A good poker winning percentage at a low stake game like NL5 can be as high as 90% since the players in this game are inexperienced and make mistakes often. However, as the stakes go up, your chances of winning decrease.

For instance, the Poker game winning percentage of an NL50 is around 60%. That’s still a higher winning percentage than most other games.   

Why Position Matters in Poker 

Positioning in Poker is the most important aspect of the game. If you are in a late position, you are in the lucky zone, as you’ll have a lot of information before you act. On the other hand, the under-the-gun or middle position players don’t have as much information. 

For example, if the under-the-gun player has K-J, raising or calling will be tricky because there is a 40% chance that the other players have a higher card. Assuming everyone on the table accepts the late position, small blind, big blind, and dealer, the late position player still has a significant advantage.

If the late position player has K-Q, there’s only a 16% chance that the remaining players have a bigger card. Therefore, poker positions matter a lot when it comes to playing a winning game.  

Different Hand Names in Poker 

If you are new to the game, you’re probably wondering why everyone says Darth Vader or cowboy during and after the game. Well, these are lingo created by professionals. Below is a list of all the nicknames of poker hands. If you learn them, you won’t feel any different from the pros.

Poker Aces
  • Bullet
  • Pocket Rocket 
Poker Kings 
  • Cowboys
  • Ace Magnets
Pocket Queens
  • Ladies
Pocket Jack
  • Fish Hooks 
Pocket Tens
  • Dimes
Pocket Nines
  • Phil Hellmuth 
  • Wayne Gretzky
Pocket Eights
  • Snowmen
  • Dale Jr. 
Pocket Sevens
  • Hockey Stick
  • Candy Canes
Pocket Sixes
  • Kicks
  • Route 66
Pocket Fives
  • Nickels
  • Presto
Pocket Fours
  • Sailboats
  • Darth Vader
Pocket Threes
  • Treys
Pocket Twos
  • Deuces
  • Ducks
  • Big Slick
  • Space Cowboy
  • Big Chick
  • Rocket Queen
  • Blackjack


The best starting hands in poker all depend on your ability to successfully and strategically play the game. With all the information we have provided, you are ready to succeed at Texas Hold’em and play like a pro!


How many poker hands are there?

There are 10 possible five-card poker hands, which are mentioned above. In Texas Hold’em, there are 1,326 possible two-card starting hands. The best is pocket Aces, while the worst is seven-two offsuit. 

Is three pairs a poker hand?

Three pairs are impossible in a poker game because it means you are dealing six cards, while poker only deals with five.

What are the odds of getting a Royal Flush?

Everyone wants a Royal Flush, but it’s not that easy. The odds of getting a Royal Flush in Texas Hold’em is one in 649,740. 

What are the odds of getting a Straight Flush? 

The odds of getting a Straight Flush is one in 72,192.33. 

What are the odds of getting a Four of a Kind?

The odds of getting a Four of a Kind is one in 4,164.

What are the odds of getting a full house?

The odds of getting a Full House is one in 694. 

What are the odds of getting a Flush?

The odds of getting a Flush is one in 508.

What are the odds of getting a Straight?

The odds of getting a Straight is one in 254.

What are the odds of getting Three of a Kind?

The odds of getting a Three of a Kind is one in 47.

What are the odds of getting a Two Pair?

The odds of getting a Two Pair is one in 21.

What are the odds of getting one pair?

The odds of getting one pair is one in 2.37.

What are the odds of getting a no pair?

The odds of getting no pair is one in 1.995.

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