Hello everyone in the fifth article in a series on Tournament Texas Hold’em and Strategy. This time we will discuss no-limit tournaments and the accompanying poker tournament strategies . It is in this article that we will look at making decisions based on starting hands.

Best starting Poker Hands to play with

It is obvious to everyone who plays poker that there are hands that should be played and there are those that are best folded right away. Ironically, these are the most important decisions you will need to make in Texas Hold’em. And your decision should depend on several factors:

  • “Groups” of starting hands
  • Position at the table
  • Number of players at the table
  • Chip position

Initially, Sklansky proposed to combine starting hands in Texas Hold’em into groups, which turned out to be a very convenient innovation in the end. Before you get acquainted with the updated and revised Sklansky tables, I suggest that you familiarize yourself with the original tables, which later turned out to be very tight. So:

  • Groups 1 – 8 : In principle, this group was subject to minor changes, some hands from the group were transferred for convenience to group 9.
  • Group 30 : These are hands that are “questionable,” meaning you rarely need to play them, but sometimes if you play these hands, you can be very confusing opponents who will never be able to guess your style of play and bluffs. Loose players play these hands more often than necessary, experienced players much less often.

The table below shows the exact set of starting hands that Poker Sidekick uses when calculating the moves for starting hands. If you are using Poker Sidekick, then when you enter each starting hand, this program will give you the group to which it belongs (if you cannot remember them) and the relative strength of that combination. So you can just print this article and use it as a guide to action.

  • 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
  • Other hands are not indicated as they are practically not played.

So these were the expanded and improved starting hand tables for Texas Hold’em.

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The further you are at the table (the dealer is the farthest position, the small blind is the closest), the more starting hands you need to play. If you are in the dealer’s position, the table is full, play groups one through six. If in medium, cut to 1-3 (tight) and 4 (loose). In close position, cut your hands to group 1 (tight) and group 2 (loose). And of course, in the big blind, you get what you get.

Once the number of players at the table is reduced to 5-7, I recommend playing tighter, playing fewer hands, premium hands from better positions (groups 1-2). Now is the time to forget about chasing flushes and straight draws, which require a lot of risk and loss of chips.

Once the number of players is reduced to 4, it is time to open up and start playing more hands (groups 1-5), but carefully. At this stage, you are already approaching the prizes, so, again, be extremely careful. Often times, I just defend my blinds, I resort to stealing a lot, and I just watch how the small stacks are consumed by the blinds or other players, bringing me closer to the prize places. If I am less fortunate and this small stack is me, it is worth picking the best possible hand and going all-in in the hope of doubling your stack.

When there are only three players left in the game, you should avoid hitting big stacks and stay hidden waiting for heads-ups . Here I personally try to tighten my belts tighter and avoid open confrontations.

If you are so lucky that you found yourself face to face with your opponent, then this is a completely different story that deserves special attention and an article. Time to get very aggressive and raise and shove a lot.

In the strategy of poker tournaments one of the main roles is played by constant monitoring of your stack in relation to the blinds and the stacks of other players. If you are low on chips, then play tight, and when you are lucky and a good hand hits, make the most of the situation and make the most of the chips. If, on the contrary, you can boast of a large fortune of chips, then use it for pushing and stealing – but do not risk too much (other players will try to double at your expense).