The Hands You Should Play, by Relative Position at a Table

Table 2-1 shows the starting hands you should play relative to your position around the table in Limit Hold’em.

TABLE 2-1 Hands You Should Play by Relative Position

Although they’re in early position, the small and large blinds do have a bit of play in them, exclusively because you were forced to play a bet when you were dealt the hand.

From the small blind, if you have not been raised, you can play:
Any set of suited connectors, even if they’re gapped (for example, 7♥

10♥)
Any set of connecting cards greater than 6 (for example, 6-7)

Any two cards if more than half the table is playing (good pot odds for you)

From the big blind you can call any single raise with anything in the preceding list.

If either blind is raised multiple times, call with any of the cards listed in the early position (refer to Table 2-1).

When playing either the small or large blinds, particularly if there are a lot of players in the hand, be ready to fold post-flop if your hand doesn’t improve significantly.

Be aware of a few things relative to the table we’ve supplied:

We advocate playing a tighter subset of hands than other professionals do. It’s easier to start with a tight game and then loosen a bit than it is to start loose and tighten it up. Early in your Poker career, your big goal will be to cut your losses to a minimum — and our recommendations will help.

Many people recommend playing an Ace with a weak kicker out of a later position (known as a dangling Ace), but in our experience, especially with players just learning the game, these hands will lose you more over time than they win (usually from someone in the blinds having an Ace with a bigger kicker). Remember: The more people who fold in front of you, the more implication there is that good cards are still left in the deck (or in the players’ hands waiting to play).

Call any bet if there is a raise behind you, but be ready to let that hand go if you don’t improve post-flop. Your decision to play forward will be based partially on how you classify that player.

If there is a raise in front of you, you should only call if you have hands that are the equivalent of sitting one positional group in front of where you are. For example, from a late position, you should no longer call with a J-10, but can call a bet and a raise with Q-J. Again, be ready to let the hand go if it doesn’t improve post-flop.

Be certain to vary your starting cards relative to the other players at the table if that makes sense.

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