Poker Strategy

Hands to play in

Your position to dealer is important when deciding which hands to play. In the early position you should only play the strongest hands, mid position you can play the medium hands as well, or in late position you can play strong, medium or other starting hands.

Strong Starting Hands

Ace pair
King Pair
Queen Pair
Ace King Suited and Unsuited
Ace Queen suited and unsuited

Medium Starting Hands

Jack Pair
Ten Pair
9 Pair
8 Pair
Ace-Jack Suited or unsuited
Ace-10 Suited or unsuited
Ace-9 Suited or unsuited
King-Queen Suited or unsuited
Ace-10, King-10, Queen-10, suited
Ace with any card suited
King-Jack, Queen-Jack, Jack-10 suited or unsuited

Other hands worth playing in late position

Any low pair
Connected cards suited, eg 8-7, 4-5 etc
Ace-10, King-10, Queen-10 unsuited
King-9, Jack-8 suited


Calculating Your Outs

An out is a card that will give you a winning hand, or improve your hand, if it arrives usually on the turn or river. Being able to calculate your outs will enable you to see how much of an underdog you are in a hand and help to see if the pot odds are in your favour or not. So how do you work out what your outs are and the chances of them coming in?

We’ll take an example hand of A♠ K♠ with a flop of 5♠ 8♥ 3♠. Here you have quite a few possible outs with a flush draw, and pairing either of your cards. There are 47 cards that you haven’t seen yet with 2 cards to come. First of all we have the flush draw with 9 spades that could make the hand for you meaning 9 outs. Next we have the chance of pairing either the King or Ace. There are 3 Aces and 3 Kings that you haven’t seen yet giving 6 cards that could make a high pair. However you do need to consider what your opponent may be holding. Since they are still up against you after the flop it’s likely they are holding at least one of the high cards. Also they may be holding a low pair waiting to hit trips or have paired the 8 and waiting to hit 2 pair. With this in mind the possible outs for the pair is reduced and can probably be taken as 4 rather than 6. So we effectively have 13 outs which can improve the hand.

Now you need to know how likely you are to hit one of your outs. A rough rule of thumb when there are 2 cards to come is to multiply your outs by 4. So with 13 outs we have roughly a 52% chance that one of them will come in on the next 2 cards. It’s not an exact figure but does give a rough guide to work with.

This is just a basic introduction to calculating your outs. For a more detailed explanation see one of the many poker strategy books that are available.