starting hand charts

What are Starting Hand Charts?

  • These charts recommend which poker hands to play from different positions at the table, taking into account the actions of players in front of you.
  • They are typically presented in a grid format:
    • Positions along the top (UTG, Button, Small Blind, etc.)
    • Possible hand types on the side (pairs, suited connectors, big aces, etc.)
    • Color-coding or symbols indicate actions: Call, Raise, Fold, sometimes Re-raise

Why Use Starting Hand Charts

  • Foundation for Sound Decisions: Charts provide a baseline, stopping you from playing trash hands, especially when new to poker.
  • Streamline Preflop Thinking: They offer quick guidance amidst the table action.
  • Positional Awareness: Charts are position-specific, reinforcing how important this factor is preflop.

Example: Tight vs. Loose Starting Hands

  • Tight Chart (Conservative): Might only recommend raising pocket pairs 77+ and AK from early positions.
  • Loose Chart (Aggressive): Might expand that range to include suited connectors from late position or small pairs for stealing blinds.

Important Considerations

  • Game Format: Charts exist for Hold’em, Omaha, Tournaments, Cash Games, etc. Be sure you’re using the right one!
  • NOT Set in Stone: Charts are a starting point. Adjust based on opponents, stack sizes, and table dynamics.
  • Experience Required: Charts are less helpful if you can’t accurately assess opponents. You won’t know when to deviate from them profitably.

How to Use Starting Hand Charts

  1. Memorize (at least the basics): Commit the tightest range recommendations (early positions) to memory so they become second nature.
  2. Observe and Adjust: Notice if villains play looser or tighter than the chart suggests. Shift your ranges accordingly.
    • Example: Your chart says fold KQs (King-Queen suited) under the gun (UTG). If the table is super passive, you might raise as a blind steal.
  3. Understand the “WHY”: Analyze the types of hands charts suggest:
    • Early positions: Strong pairs, high cards – hands that likely dominate weaker opponents.
    • Late positions: Wider range including suited connectors, gapped connectors which have more potential to hit big flops.

This chart ranks starting hands by percentile (out of 1326 possibilities). Lower percentile means a stronger hand. Match the percentile to your desired hand range. For example, to play the top 20% of hands, your weakest hand should be a pair of 5s.

Statistics Behind Charts

  • Winrates: Many preflop charts incorporate hand winrates from extensive simulations and database analysis to determine the most profitable choices in the long run.
  • Combos: Charts consider the combinations of hands that make up a range (e.g., there are only 6 combos of AA, but 16 combos of KQs, affecting the likelihood of being dealt them).

sign up for free newsletter to stay up to date on latest news about gaming industry