Strength. It’s a quality that we would all like to have, but when you sit down and think about playing poker, you will definitely need to make sure that you have plenty of strength behind you. However, we’re not talking about the type of strength that you would use on the beach to impress the ladies — that’s an interesting type of strength, but it’s really not the type of strength that we really want to deal with. Instead, we actually want to make sure that we have the type of strength that’s really going to make sure that we get things done. It’s better to focus on the logic and mathematical side of poker, because these are the variables that you can control to an extent. As much as poker writers would like to disagree, you can’t influence the emotional side of the people that you’re playing against. If they really want to step to you, they will and there’s really nothing that you can do about it. On the other hand, if you think back to doing what you can with the tools given to you, you can increase your chances of really beating them.
So let’s go back to the fundamentals again and approach the topic of starting hand strength. When you get your hole cards, you’ll need to immediately decide whether or not the hand should still stand. You know the saying “only the strong” survive? Well, it’s the same way in poker. You really need to make sure that you are starting with the best hand possible.
There are a few things that influence this greatly. The first thing is the number of players that you’re up against. If you’re trying to go against a full board of people, you’re going to have to realize that your odds are going to be less than if you were going against a smaller number. This means that you’ll have to modify your playing style as the field widens and narrows, respectively.
“Premium” Hands — Yes, You Love Them, and They Love You!
What’s a premium hand in poker? If there was one question that newcomers seem to want to know, it would definitely have to be that. Generally speaking, a premium hand is going to be something like AA or KK, QQ, AK, AJ, AQ. In other words, it’s going to be royalty-level at the very least. J10 is on the cusp of being premium. Some poker players include the 10 as being part of the premium section of the card deck, but it’s going to be more or less up to you were you draw that line.
So let’s say that you’re thinking about what to do with the J7o (Jack, Seven, off-suited) you got dealt. A lot of players will want to automatically throw chips into the pot and see what the J7 will do for them in play. However, this isn’t really what you want to do at all. Instead of worrying about something like that, you will instead want to think carefully about your next move — which is to fold.
Now, a lot of newbies think that staying in the ring, even just to see the flop, is a “good play”. Maybe in the short term. However, if you stepped back and added up all of the chips that you’ve thrown in just to see what the pot looks like, chances are very good that you will end up not coming out ahead in the end. It’s something that can silently chip away at and destroy your chances of really playing poker the way it was truly meant to be played. That’s a shame, and you really want to try to avoid this possibility if you utterly can.
Another thing that you need to also calculate in when you’re thinking about the best starting hands is whether or not you have suited cards or unsuited cards. While it doesn’t add a super large difference to your winning percentage odds, the truth is that it does still make a difference. Throwing away A7o (off-suited) is a bit different than throwing away A7s, and you should make sure that you actually understand the difference before just folding. Just as you don’t want to rush into raising/calling, you don’t really want to fold too quickly.
Overall, understanding whether or not you’re going to make a play based on hand strength is definitely important, so don’t delay — get out there!