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No Limit Cash - Preflop with Starting Hand Chart

No limit Hold'em is a game of many decisions. The first decision you have to make is whether or not you want to enter the pot. In this article we want to show what hands are worth entering the pot and how you should play them. In the pre-flop round your decision is based on three things:
  • Your hand strength
  • Your position
  • Your opponent's action in front of you
As you get more experienced you will add other things to that list but for starters this is certainly enough to worry about.
 
The most important factor is the strength of your hand. We differentiate between very strong hands, strong hands, speculative hands and the rest.

Very strong hands can be played all the time. There might be some exceptions to this rule but in general if you see a hand in this category you want to play it. And you want to build yourself a big pot with it. Hands that fall into this category are , , and .
 
Strong hands are playable in a lot of situations. If nobody raised before you a raise is the right play most of the time. You need to be careful if you are playing against a raise. Depending on the situation each of the three preflop options can be correct if you are facing a raise: Sometimes you want to reraise, sometimes you want to call and sometimes you even have to fold a strong hand preflop. Strong hands are pairs like , , , Aces with a big kicker such as , , and any combination of two cards Ten or higher like or .
 
Speculative hands are hands that are a lot weaker than the ones listed above but if you hit a favorable flop with them they have the potential to become very strong holdings. If you are playing against a raise you need to be careful but it is usually all right to call a raise with them in position. If nobody raised before you can either just call behind or throw in a raise at times. Speculative hands are small pairs like  to  that will need to improve to a set on the flop in order to proceed. Also hands that can make straights or flushes fall into that category: suited aces with a small kicker, suited connectors such as , etc. In general you don't want to invest too much with these hands before the flop.
 
All hands that don't fall into one of the categories above are usually too weak to play. It is ok to raise some of them on the button if nobody has entered the pot yet but usually you should just let them go.
 
Your position is the next factor you need to consider in your preflop decisions. If a large number of players can act behind you then you need to be very selective with your starting hand selection. There is the chance that somebody holds a very strong hand and hasn't acted yet and that you will be playing the hand out of position. And playing out of position is something you really should avoid, especially with weak holdings.
 

 
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