Basic Pre-flop Strategy

Detailed Pre-flop Strategy

Basic Pre-flop Strategy for Texas Holdem includes which starting hands to play in various positions and how to bet them. For beginners I recommend playing only the best texas holdem starting hands. This will make your decisions easier. Lowering the amount of hands you play before the flop will help you avoid making incorrect and costly errors on post-flop betting rounds.

If you prefer an extremely easy yet effective strategy for before and after the flop take a look at the best beginner strategy I have. Note it is not for tournaments. Beginners Online Poker System.The rest of this page can be used for all games online and live.


Good Basic Strategy is to always take your position into account when deciding whether or not to enter a hand pre-flop. The later your position, the better. Basically play only premium & strong hands in early position. In middle position open up the starting hand standards some. And in late position be even more open with hand selection and aggression.

  • You can go to the texas holdem starting hand section if you are not familiar with them. There you will find detailed information on all types of starting hands. Or use the quick reference guide below.
  • Group 1 Premium
    AA- KK
  • Group 2 Strong
    AK- QQ- JJ
  • Group 3 Good
    AQ- 1010- 99- 88
  • Group 4 Marginal
    AJ- KQ- 77- 66- 55
  • Group 5 Marginal
    A10- KJ- K10- 44- 33
  • Group 6 Weak
    A9- QJ- Q10- J10- 22
  • Group 7 Weak
    A8- K9- Q9- J9 and lower

Early Position

  • Raise with Group 1 and 2 hands AA- JJ and AK.
  • Only call with pocket pairs 88 to 1010.
  • Pocket pairs from 22 to 77 are also playable if you expect allot of players to enter the hand.

You will be tempted to play many lower ranked hands than advised in many positions. Especially when you see the weak types of hands your opponents are playing. Playing better hands than your opponents is the easiest way to get their money.


Middle Position

How many players from early position are now voluntarily in the hand and their actions will be a key factors in deciding how to play here. Did they raise or just call? This combined with your hand strength will decide whether to call, raise or fold in this spot.

  • You should always raise or reraise here with Group 1.
  • Raise here with Group 2 and possibly reraise depending on who raised it. If it is someone who raises too much reraise them. 
  • f there was a raise you can call with Group 3 hands, but Fold AQ if it was a player who rarely raises. 
  • If you are the first player to enter the pot here go ahead and raise with Groups 1 and 2. Optionally raise with Group 3 depending on the type of players behind you.

Late Postition

Late position (near the button), play here will also be decided on the same factors as middle but with quite a bit more flexibility. Since now you have seen how many player have entered the hand, their betting actions, plus you will have the good position on all the remaining betting rounds.

  • Always raise here with Group 1 or 2 hands.
  • Always reraise with Group 1.
  • Reraise with Group 2 only if you think you have the best hand.
  • If there was a raise you can call with Group 3, but Fold AQ and all group 4 hands and lower if it was a player who rarely raises.
  • If players have voluntarily entered the hand without raising always raise here with Groups 1 and 2. Optionally raise with Group 3 depending on the type of players who have entered the hand. Do they play too many hands or have they not played a hand in 2 hours...? 
  • If no one has yet entered the hand always raise with Group 1 and 2. Possibly Group 3 hands too, depending on the type of players behind you.

From the Blinds

These positions are special because many times you will be looking at a raise in front of you and you have a discount to play in the pot since you are already in part way. Most players think like this. Calling a little more preflop may seem logical with a garbage hand like Q6 or 94. But these hands will often make second best hand and get someone in trouble. Even if they do make the best hand on the flop they will be in serious danger of being beaten. Also playing out of the blinds is the worst position on all subsequent betting rounds.

So limit the hands played out of the blinds when there has been a raise to hands that make strong hands like straights or high flushes. Not hands that can only make pairs with poor kickers.


Pocket Pairs 22 thru 77

These hands have a special place. Since they can improve dramatically by flopping a third card of equal value. Forming a set (three of a kind), which is a powerful hand. Another benefit is it easy to decide what to do with these hands after the flop.

These hands can be played from any position pre-flop assuming you will get action if you make a set. Preferably with little or no pre-flop raising. The best situation is to see a flop with many players for a small price. You can get an idea of what is going to happen based on how the game has unfolded previously. More strategy for small pairs preflop.


Tip from a Pro

Non-paired hands below AQ rarely improve enough to become powerful hands. They are drawing hands that should be avoided for now since they are unneeded and due to their complexity for beginners.

I made a living early on in my professional poker career without ever playing these hands pre-flop. Trust me you don't need to play them to win. It may seem fun to play these hands but they are dangerous and can end up actually costing you money. And losing is never fun.


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