This may seem obvious or somewhat remedial but the key to being a strong Texas Hold ‘Em Poker player is to identify which hands are playable and which are not. Experienced players will tell you that any two cards are playable and can win a hand, but your hole cards form your “pre-flop consciousness”. The following is my list of the top 10 starting hole cards in Texas Hold’Em. Note that there is strong disagreement over which hands are the best, and it will depend heavily on luck and in part on skill level and play style. A great starting hand can turn bad quickly with the wrong community cards or betting strategy. I chose this order because these are my own perennial power house hole cards that consistently win and are of the highest statistical advantage; but feel free to diverge in opinion.
No big surprise here. A pair of aces, also known as “Pocket Rockets” or “Bullets” is the best starting hand for Texas Hold ‘Em. Word to the wise though; keep a very watchful eye out for potential flush and straight draws in the flop that could stop this menacing pocket pair dead in the water.
Also known as “Cowboys”, a pair of kings follows the same rules as Ace-Ace.
A pair of queens, also known as “ladies,” rounds out the top three.
#4 Ace-King (suited)
This is commonly where players start to disagree. A suited ace-king, also known as “big slick,” is a personal favorite of mine as it has so many potential outs, and ace is the end all be all of kicker cards.
#5 Ace-Queen (suited)
The suited “big chick,” or “little slick,” given to a suited ace-queen, is fifth on the list for the same reason as Ace-King.
A pair of jacks, also known as “J-hooks” or “fishhooks”. A solid pocket pair.
#7 King-Queen (suited)
A suited royal couple, king-queen, is on the list for its strong potential to be an open ended straight that beats out other big hands or a high ranking flush.
#8 Ace-Jack (suited)
Nicknamed “blackjack” for obvious reasons, and sometimes called “AJ”.
#9 Ace-King (off suit)
The only off suit, non-pocket pair to make it on my list of the top 10 starting hands. Call me crazy but “AK” is an explosive set of hole cards.
This is the only starting hand in the top 10 without a face card to make my list, a pair of tens also known as “dimes”. Some players believe that a suited king-jack is a stronger starting hand, but I find personally I get three of a kind more often with 10s than any pocket pair. This is just a personal favorite.