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Poker Dictionary (106) > Premium Starting Hands

Premium Starting Hands

'Premium starting hands' are the best starting hands that players can be dealt in a game of poker, representing the best chances of winning the hand. The following are all considered to be premium: AA, KK, QQ, JJ, 10-10, AK and AQ. Players who are very passive in their play tend to wait for these hands and as such, can be fairly predictable in their play. By this it can be obvious when the flop shows rag cards, that they have likely missed the flop.

Premium hands are generally played from any position (early, middle or late), although against real aggression, playing pocket tens or Jacks from early position can be a risky affair, especially if you have been re-raised for a chunk of your stack. For this reason, there are certainly times when you might consider folding a premium starting hand, especially when you are dealt them in early position or it is going to cost you most of your stack to play. it is important to remember that whilst strong before the flop, they are easily beaten once the community cards are down.

So what makes these cards so playable? Simple - often you won't have to improve your hand to win. In contrast, playing a hand like 5-6, you will almost certainly need to hit cards to win the pot. More often than not, you will miss the flop, so these top hands represent the best chances of winning.

How to Play Premium Starting Hands

There are many different ways that you can play these hands. The standard play is to raise it up. First of all you might well get everyone to fold, in which case you win the blinds at no risk - you don't earn any real money this way. Secondly, you want want to build the pot so that you make the cards count - getting to the river with a small pot again isn't the way to make any real return on the hand. You might miss the flop and be pushed off the hand, however you will win more often with these hands than any other (so you give yourself every chance of winning a good amount).

A lot depends on your quality of opposition. If your table is very aggressive, you might want to play them a little more deceptively, possible just limping into the pot, hoping for a raise. If you have been playing a tight game, you might give away a monster hand if you suddenly shift gears into a maniac. There are many considerations. Against a passive table, you might want to post a small raise in the hope that you induce some action. There is no one way to play them. Playing them the way you get the most out of your opponents is the right play.

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