When You're First to Call

The criteria to use when deciding to play when no one else has called yet are different from the criteria which are important when deciding to call when another player has already opened the poker betting. When no one else has opened yet, there will be some players who have folded, leaving you with a smaller field to worry about beating and the only money that is in the pot is the money from the blinds.

Under the Gun

When you are under the gun, the very first player to act, there are nine other players who have not yet acted. You are in a vulnerable position and you will be in a vulnerable position at every betting round. Only your best hands should be played those that figure to be good enough to beat eight or nine random hands. In first or second position, you shouldn't be playing many hands the risk of getting raised by a better hand is too great.

Early Position

In the next two positions, when one or two players have folded and seven or eight players are yet to act, you are still in a pretty vulnerable position. You can open with additional hands that are slightly more risky than the hands you can open with under the gun. At a tough table, all these additional hands have a potential to make an expensive second-best card hand. Waiting until a couple of early players have folded reduces those chances enough to make them profitable hands, even at a somewhat tough table.

MINIMUM OPENING HANDS WHEN YOU'RE FIRST IN

Suited Cards
Pairs
Ax s
K x s
Q x s
Jx s
10x s
9x s
8x s
7x s
6x s
5x s
Under the gun
7,7
A9
KT
QT
JT
-
-
-
-
-
-
Early Positions
6,6
A8
K9
Q9
JT
T9
-
-
-
-
-
Middle Positions
5,5
A2
K7
Q8
J9
T9
98
-
-
-
-
Button
4,4
A2
K6
Q7
J8
T8
98
86
76
65
-
Small Blind
2,2
A2
K2
Q6
J7
T7
97
74
63
54

Unsuited Cards
Ax s
K x s
Q x s
Jx s
10x s
9x s
8x s
7x s
Under the gun
AQ
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Early Positions
AJ
KJ
QJ
-
-
-
-
-
Middle Positions
A10
KT
QJ
-
-
-
-
-
Button
A 4
K7
Q 7
J9
T9
-
-
-
Small Blind
A 2
K2
Q 2
J6
T7
96
86
75

A x s: means an Ace and another lower card of the same suit.
K x s: means a King and another lower card of the same suit.
A x: means an Ace and another card of a different suit from the Ace.
K x: means a King and another lower card of a different suit from the King.

Note: An entry like A9 means that hand and any better hands. A9 represents AK, AQ, AJ, AT and A9 of course of any suit. The entry means 65, 64, 63 again of any suit. The next four tables are to be read in the same way.

Middle Position

Once two or three players have folded, you are in a little better poker game position. You have only got five or six players yet to act and two of them are in the blinds that will be in a weak position relative to you after the flop. You can add many hands to your list of hands to open with.

Late Position

Sometimes you might be in a late position and everyone who has acted ahead of you folded. If this happens frequently, you are in too tight a game and should move to another table. When it does happen you can safely open with lot more hands than you can in an early position.

The Small Blind

If everyone has folded except the blinds and you are in the small blind, you should aggressively go after the blinds at least half the time. The tighter and the more passive the player on the big blind tends to be, the more often you should attack the blinds when the special situations arises.

Continue:Opening Hands when you're first in