Most beginners are apt to play too many poker hands. This is natural. You know the rules. You want to gamble online from the USA and make money. It's normal to want to play every hand just to get to the showdown. Unfortunately, this can also get you into a lot of trouble. You’ll get attached to hands you never should have played to begin with. Poker needs a great deal of patience and your very first practical lesson after you've learned the rules is: Fold most of your hands and stick only to the best hands.
Sure, you may have heard that every hand can win and every hand can lose. But the truth is, the best hands have MORE ways of winning than bad hands. Let's give a simple illustration of this.
You get dealt ace-three off-suit. You think, “Wow, an ace!” and decide to play the hand. The flop, turn and river come. In the end, there are two more aces on the board. Ah, a three of a kind! But at the showdown, you discover that another player has an ace-queen. Regardless of suit, they win because they have the higher kicker: a lady versus your measly three card.
See the point?
The Best Poker Hands
Here are the best poker hands to play. Occasionally you may feel like lucky and decide to be a bit looser. But it is recommended that you stick to it. You will avoid many unnecessary defeats just by doing that.
Pairs: Ace-Ace, King-King, Queen-Queen, Jack-Jack, Ten-Ten
Suited Cards: Ace-King, Ace-Queen, Ace-Jack, Ace-Ten
Off-Suit Cards: Ace-King, Ace-Queen, Ace-Jack
Some players are even tighter than this, or looser, depending on table position and other factors like the players at the table. For example, you may want to play jack-ten suited. Some are so tight that they will only play big pairs and ace-king!
Worst Poker Hands
The worst poker hand of all is two-seven. This is because it is the lowest hand that cannot even make a straight. You don't need to memorize the worst hands though. Hands like three-two, seven-four, etc. are junk hands. Don't play them at all.
But the really worst hands of all are not these throwaway hands. The worst poker hand of all is the second best hand. These are trap hands. Typical trap hands are king-jack off-suit, jack-ten and so on. These look good to a beginner but in the end often deal them a bad beat. Beware of playing second-best hands and then go all-in with them. Only play premium hands for now.
Other Issues You Should Think About
Later, you will hear about table position in poker. When you play hands according to table position, your options change. However this is really an intermediate poker concept. For now, stick to playing only the best starting hands. You will save more money and win more pots that way.
Another issue is tournament poker. The situation in poker tournaments makes it necessary to play weaker hands and bluff, because unlike cash games, the blinds are continuously increasing. But again, that is for another day when you are a better US online poker player.
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