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Top 10 Best Starting Hands In Texas Hold'em Poker

Key to being good at Texas Hold’em is knowing your hands and knowing what’s playable.

One of the keys to being a strong Texas Hold ’em poker player is to know which hands are playable and which are not. This list of the top 10 best starting hands for Texas Hold ’em is a good place to start learning. Do keep in mind, however, that there is some disagreement over which hands are the best, and it does depend in part on your skill level and style of play. Also, a great starting hand can turn bad quickly with the wrong community cards. This list reflects a consensus of the most trusted resources.
If you are new to Texas Hold ’em—or poker altogether—you may need to brush up on some of the terminology. In this type of poker game, there are cards dealt to the players, called hole cards, and cards dealt to the board, called community cards. When a player has a pair of their hole cards it is called a “pocket pair.” And if the pair is made up of face cards (jack, queen, king) and their suits match, they are “suited;” if they aren’t the same, then they are considered “offsuit.” In addition to this lingo, there are many nicknames for cards and hands that you may encounter along the way.

Ace – Ace

A pair of aces, also known as “pocket rockets” (and sometimes “American Airlines”) is the best starting hand for Texas Hold ’em. Be wary of how many other players enter the pot, as more players increase the likelihood of someone beating your aces. Watch the flop. You have the best pocket cards, but you can still lose to two pairs of any other cards. You will see this combination once in every 221 hands, on average.

King – King

Second on the list is a pair of kings, also known as “cowboys” or “King Kong.” This starting hand is only worse than a pair of aces. You are strongly favored, but if there is an ace showing on the flop you are in danger.

Queen – Queen

A pair of queens, also known as “ladies,” rounds out the top three best starting hands for Texas Hold ’em poker. You will hear many groans from players over this hand. It looks so pretty and it is strong, but they have often had it busted in the past. If an ace or king comes on the flop, you are probably going to be bested.

Ace – King (Suited)

This is where people start to disagree. A suited (both the same suit) ace-king, also known as “big slick,” is arguably the fourth-best starting hand for Texas Hold ’em. However, you really have nothing until you start developing a flush, straight, or pair with the flop. But you do have a lovely chance of a nut flush (a flush with ace as the high card) or a royal flush (ace, king, queen, jack, 10 in suit), not to mention a straight or high pair.

Ace – Queen (Suited)

The suited “big chick” or “little slick,” the nicknames given to a pocket ace-queen, is fifth on the list. You have the chance for a nut flush, royal flush, straight, or high pair.

Jack – Jack

A pair of jacks—also known as “hooks” or “fishhooks”—checks in at number six on this list. It’s a great pair, but it can be beaten by pairs of aces, kings, and queens, so use caution if those come on the flop.

King – Queen (Suited)

A suited royal couple, king-queen, is next in the list of Texas Hold ’em poker’s most powerful starting hands. You could get a flush, but it won’t be the nut flush unless the suited ace comes on the flop.

Ace – Jack (Suited)

Nicknamed “blackjack” for obvious reasons, and sometimes called “Ajax,” the ace-jack combo rates eighth. You have a chance for a nut flush, royal flush, straight, or high pair.

Pocket 9s (9-9)

Only one offsuit non-pair makes it into the list of the top 10 best starting hands for Texas Hold ’em poker—the “big slick,” an ace-king. It doesn’t have as good of a chance for the flush combinations as a suited big slick.

Pocket 10s (10-10)

This is the only starting hand in the top 10 without a face card or an ace: a pair of tens (aka “dimes”). Some players believe that a suited king-jack is a stronger starting hand.

Texas Hold’em Poker Hands Odds And Outs

Having a broad idea of the probability of hitting a hand is important in Texas Hold’em. The table below provides a description of each hand, plus probability and combinations columns to help you determine the poker hands’ odds and outs.

RankHand NameHand DescriptionExempleProbabilityCombination
1Royal Flush10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace all in the same suit.1 in 649,7374
2Straight FlushFive cards in a row, all in the same suit.1 in 72,19336
3Four of a KindThe same card in each of the four suits.1 in 4,164624
4Full HouseA pair plus three of a kind in the same hand.1 in 6933,744
5FlushFive cards, all in one suit, but not in numerical order.1 in 5085,108
6StraightFive cards in numerical order, but not of the same suit.1 in 25310,200
7Three of a KindThree of one card and two non-paired cards.1 in 4654,912
8Two PairTwo different pairings or sets of the same card in one hand.1 in 20123,552
9One PairOne pairing of the same card.1 in 1.361,098,240
10High CardNo matching cards.1 in 0.991,302,540
Poker Suits
ClubThe club depicts a three-leaf and corresponds to the acorns in a German deck.
DiamondThe diamond in a French deck corresponds to bells in a German deck of cards.
HeartYou’ll find hearts in both German and French playing card sets.
SpadeThe spade symbolises a medieval weapon and corresponds to leaves in a German set.

Other Info

How to play?
The aim of the game is for one Player, using their best five card poker hand, to beat the other Players and win the pot. This is done by either having the highest ranking hand or by all the other Players folding their hands.

How to Play Texas Hold’em (No Limit)

Two hole cards are dealt to each Player, followed by a round of betting. Three community cards are dealt face up (the flop) followed by another round of betting. Another card (the turn) is dealt, then the final community card (the river), each with a round of betting. The winning Player is the one with the best five card hand formed from any combination of their hole cards and community cards.

How to Play Omaha (Pot Limit)

Each Player receives 4 or 5 cards. The community cards are dealt as in Texas Hold’em, and the betting round follows the same process. The winning hand in Omaha is the best five card hand formed by two of the Player’s hole cards and three of the community cards. Other variations may be available, with rules posted in the poker room.