It seems like I spend quite a bit of time talking with other poker players about starting hands. Everyone has a range of hands that they play and most players seem to to a magic formula for which starting hands to play and which ones to fold. Obviously, there is a fine line between playing too many hands and being too aggressive to the point where it gets you into trouble, and play too tight, in which case you don’t play enough and then get sucked out on when you do.
Well, I have a solution for all of you players who want a magic formula that you can plug in and pick your starting hands: THERE ISN’T ONE!!!!
The problem with saying that you should play JT suited UTG or that you always 3 bet with middle pair, is that every table you play poker at will be different. Every time you get AK dealt to you, there will be different players sitting there. The situation will be different in each instance: cash game, tournament, 6-handed, 9-handed, $5 buy-in, $500 buy in, MTT, etc, etc, etc. No matter how much you want it to be that way, there will never be a ‘one size fits all’ way to pick your starting hands, or indeed, how to play them once you do.
What then, is the answer to this dilemma?
The answer is actually simple: you need to learn how to think. You need to learn how to analyze the table better, the players better and also how they will react to the plays you make. This in turn will tell you which starting hands you can play and how to play them. Once you have the experience of being able to predict your opponents reactions, then which hands you choose to play not only becomes very easy, but also semi-irrelevant.
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For any questions, concerns, or opinions, please email Chris Wilcox at email@example.com