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No Limit Texas Holdem, pre flop play

Hand ranking for No Limit Texas Hold'em

The best starting hands for a novice in NL Texas Holdem are:
1.Pairs 22-AA.
2.Big suited connectors AKs, AQs & KQs.
3.Big connectors AK, AQ and KQ.

Good Starting Hand Requirements

These requirements will work well for a tight aggressive style of play. This is a great way to start out for less experienced players.

Play only the top hands mentioned above. If you play any lesser hands you will have to do a lot of guess work which will leave you vulnerable. If you have never played NL before, it is recommended that you restrict yourself to only playing pairs AA-22, AK and AQ. With these top poker hands, you will not find yourself caught in many difficult situations and you'll still win alot of big pots. Playing only these hands will require alot of discipline since you will not be involved in many pots, but it will provide you with a lot of time to study the game and observe the players as you play.

Minimum required starting hand when facing an unraised pot
# Players left to act Non-pair Pairs
9 (under the gun) AK 99
8 AQ 88
7 AQ 77
6 Ajs 66
5 Ats 55
9 (under the gun) AK 99
4 A9s, KQs 44
3 (cut off) Axs, KJs 33
2 (button) Axs, KTs, QJs, JTs 22
1 (SB) Axs, K9s, QTs, J9s 22
0 (BB)

How to make decisions depending on the action before you

•If there are a couple of limpers in front of you, you should only raise with the top hands, such as AK and AA-JJ, and be more inclined to call with the marginal hands since these hands play well in multi-way pots.
•If the pot has been raised, consider who raised and decide whether to call, reraise or fold. If it was a strong player, reraise or fold. If it was a weak player, your inclination should be to call, as you will be presented with a good chance of winning a big pot when you hit a great flop. Reraise the strong players with AK or any big pair to try and get them to fold and take the pot out right, otherwise just fold. You should often just call raises from weaker players with pairs, AK, AQ, AJ etc... if you have position and will likely get everyone else to fold, otherwise you should always reraise. You do this in order to trap them on the flop when you hit a great hand instead of shutting them out pre flop.

Limp or Raise:

•Raise with AA-QQ, AK and AQs in any position.
•Basically, all other starting hands are limping hands. And though you might re-raise with them when you are defending your blinds, you might also raise with these hands when you are first in from a late position.
•You should always be mixing up your play or "change gears" by reraising, raising or even just calling with hands you don't usually play. Mixing up your play is very important because you always want to avoid becoming predictable, as alot of strong players will catch on fairly quickly.

General Pre Flop Strategy

•In most situations you should raise or reraise with top pairs "AA,QQ" and top connectors "AK,AQ" to make low pairs and various connectors pay to see flops against you. Remember, they will often have the opportunity to double up on you if they hit (although many beginners do not realize this and fold too often pre-flop).
•Stick to the premium hands (see table of minimum required hands). You will pay dearly to "chase" with second-best hands in NL.
•Keep most raises down to between 70% and 100% (making it 3 times the big blind to go typically equals an 80% pot bet) in order to save money when you get re-raised or called by stronger holdings. If there are limpers in front of you, raise to about 4-6 times the big blind.
•Have respect for strong tight players (for example, you should drop AQ if a strong player raises under the gun).
•When very weak players have entered the pot, be inclined to call and take flops with them.

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