How to Win at Online Poker: Top 10 Poker Hands

If you’ve ever watched some of the most famous poker players in the world, you’ve probably seen them do some crazy things at the table – like opening with just about any two cards. It’s exciting, and it’s entertaining, but don’t be fooled: Most of the money you’ll ever make in online poker will come when you’ve been dealt premium hole cards. The weaker your starting hand, the more likely you a run into trouble. To help you navigate those shark-filled waters, let’s take a look at the top 10 Texas Hold’em hands and what makes them so powerful. Once you’ve learned how to play the best poker hands profitably, you’ll be ready to spread your wings and learn how to play those trash hands when the time is right.


Top 10 Strongest Poker Hands

Strongest Poker Hands & What They Are

So what makes one starting hand better than another? It’s all about equity. Those two hole cards have value; they will combine with the community cards to form your five-card poker hand. Ideally, you want those hole cards to have at least one of the following four characteristics:

Same rank 

If you get dealt two hole cards of the same rank, you’re guaranteed to have at least a pair, and as they say, it’s hard to make a pair in Texas Hold’em.


High rank

The higher your cards are in value, the more likely you’ll have the winning hand at showdown, whether it’s a nut flush, top set, or even the best kicker.


Getting dealt two hole cards of the same suit makes it more likely that you’ll end up with a flush, one of the most powerful poker winning hands you can make.


It’s a lot easier to make a straight (another powerful made hand) when you start with two cards of consecutive rank. One-gap connectors can still be potent; the more gaps you add, the harder it is to complete your straight.

Of course, when you play online poker and you get dealt a pocket pair, those cards will neither be suited nor connected. But rank still matters: Pocket Aces will have more equity than pocket Kings, and even more than pocket Deuces. If you don’t get dealt a pocket pair, the strongest starting hands possible are high-ranking suited connectors, with Ace-King suited at the top of the heap. But which starting hands are the very best starting hands?


Top 10 Best Starting Hands

To answer that question, we turn to two of the biggest minds in the poker business: David Sklansky and Victor Chubukov. Back in 2003, they crunched the numbers for a specific Texas Hold’em cash game scenario, where the action folds around to the small blind. Sklansky and Chubukov calculated how large of an “all-in” move the small blind could profitably make, on average, with each of the possible 169 starting hands. There’s a trick here: The small blind then turns over his hole cards and the big blind has the choice of calling or not.

With that in mind, here are the top 10 starting hands in Texas Hold’em, according to the Sklansky-Chubukov model:

1. AA
2. KK
3. AKs
4. QQ
5. AKo
6. JJ
7. AQs
8. TT
9. AQo
10. 99

That’s a stacked line-up right there. Of course, there are other ways to determine which hands are the best starting hands when you play poker. For example, consider the equity (that is, the share of the pot in the long run) each hand would enjoy against two random cards if they went to showdown, head-to-head. This produces a slightly different top 10:

1. AA
2. KK
3. QQ
4. JJ
5. TT
6. AKs
7. 99
8. AQs
9. AKo
10. AJs

The main difference here is that medium-strong pocket pairs (QQ through 99) go up in value. Suitedness also takes more precedence, with Ace-Queen suited becoming more valuable than Ace-King offsuit. In the real world, you’ll have to take into consideration things like how many players are seated at the table, and how deep everyone’s stack is. But in the end, there’s no debate: Pocket Aces are the best starting hand in Hold’em.


0 Best Starting Hands In Poker

Big Pairs – Which Hands to Start With

As a general rule, when we talk about big pairs in Texas Hold’em, we’re talking about pocket Tens and better. Getting dealt these hole cards is one of the best feelings in poker. You can comfortably open-raise any of these big pairs from any position at the table, even a full-ring table. You can also 3-bet from any position. And if you have pocket Aces, you can raise and re-raise to your heart’s content.

Just don’t get too attached to those pocket pairs. Even pocket Aces will get cracked from time to time; if you open from early position and get called by the big blind, then the flop comes Five-Six-Seven, all Diamonds, that’s hardly an ideal situation for you. Your next move depends on many factors, and if you were already counting your money when you got dealt those Pocket Rockets pre-flop, you won’t be in the right frame of mind to make a smart decision in this spot.

You’ll also want to play it a little more cautiously as your big pairs get a little smaller. Here’s another chestnut you’ve probably heard before: There’s no correct way to play pocket Jacks. Actually, this is one of the very best starting hands in Hold’em. You can 5-bet jam pocket Jacks from any position at the table when you’re 100 big blinds deep, and usually be ahead if your opponent calls. But post-flop play will be a little trickier when those overcards (Aces, Kings and Queens) hit the board.

10 Non Pair Top Hands

Non-Pair Top 10 Starting Hands

Ace-King (also known as Big Slick), whether suited or offsuit, is another one of those premium hands that causes players to worry more than they should. It’s the best drawing hand in Hold’em, giving you Top Pair-Top Kicker when you hit that Ace or King post-flop. There will also be many occasions where you win the pot with Ace-High and the best kicker. For the most part, you can play Ace-King just as aggressively pre-flop as you would a big pocket Pair.

For the most part. Many novice players will always raise with Ace-King, and that’s not a bad strategy when you’re just starting out – but it’s not quite correct. If you’re playing a full-ring cash game and someone opens from early position, it’s fine to 3-bet your Ace-King, but if your opponent 4-bets and both of you are deep-stacked, you might want to ease off the gas pedal unless your Ace-King is suited. That goes double when you have Ace-Queen instead. Don’t automatically 5-bet jam Ace-Queen just because it’s in the top 10 of starting hands; you’re going to run into an even stronger hand much too often.

Top 10 Poker Hands - Playing Position

Playing Positions

To make the most effective use of these premium starting hands, make sure to take your position into account. It’s always better in Hold’em to be the one acting last; this allows you to respond to your opponents and the moves they make, rather than jumping blindly into a pot yourself. In fact, if you have position on your opponent and you get dealt pocket Aces, you might want to consider slowplaying instead of insta-shoving.

Here’s a classic example: You open from middle position with AA, the big blind raises, and the action folds around to you. Nothing wrong with a 4-bet here, but if your opponent folds, that’s not the result you’re looking for. If you call instead of raising, you might be able to trap your opponent post-flop. You can expect a continuation bet on just about any flop. Then, when you call that c-bet, there’s a good chance they’ll fire again on the turn – and maybe even a third barrel on the river. As long as the board doesn’t run out with a lot of suited and/or connected cards, chances are you’ll be ahead on every street. Then you can get all your chips in by jamming either the turn or the river.

One more thing about position: You’ll want to play these premium starting hands a bit differently in the small blind compared to the big blind. Calling from the small blind is usually a bad idea, so feel free to always 3-bet these quality hands; in the big blind, you can get away with calling when you have a medium-strength hand like pocket Nines, and your opponent opened from early position.

Now that you know what the Top 10 hands in Hold’em are and how to use them, it’s time to hit the poker tables and show the world what you’re made of. Get these hands figured out, and you’ll be well on your way to mastering the game of poker.

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