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Poker Hands

AA, KK, QQ, AKs, AK, JJ
- These are premium hands and no matter what game you'll play you'll be happy to look down and see them. These fall into the category of Big Pairs and you'll raise and reraise with them preflop. AA doesn't have to worry about over cards hitting but when you have KK, QQ, and JJ you will often find yourself with an A on the board and you'll have to decide whether to continue. If lots of people are in, usually someone has the A. When you have AKs or AK, you'll raise and try to catch an A or K, or other draw on the board.

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AQs, AQ, AJs, KQs, KJs, JTs
- These are also quality hands. And even if someone raises before you'll, you will most likely play. A late position raise with these hands isn't a bad move. Whenever you are suited, you have a much better chance of winning, especially in low limit games where big hands win since so many people are in. Raising a hand like KQs if you are on the button and everyone is in is a great move since you have a good drawing hand (straights, flushes, big cards like a Q or K, etc). These hands pretty much play themselves but be careful for the occasional person who is tight and is only raising with AA or KK. You wouldn't want to bring AQ against one of those hands. This kind of read will be hard though so don't beat yourself up if occasionally you lose AQ to AK. One thing to note here before we go on to the lessor hands is that just because you have a good preflop hand doesn't mean that it is going to win. You're going to still fold a lot of hands after the flop since you won't improve much. With these hands though, when you do catch something it will be strong.

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AJ, KQ, KJ, KTs, QTs, J9s, TT, 99, 88, 77, 66, 55, 44, 33, 22
- These hands are middle hands that you won't want to call with heads up against another raiser. You want more people in to justify them since you'll need good flops. If you have a small pair, you'll be looking to catch one on the flop. Don't chase it after though since the odds of you catching it are worse then 1/20. To catch another one of your pocket pair on the flop is about 1/8. When you have a hand like AJ, KQ, etc you'll be hoping to catch one of those cards and it be the highest on the board. If you have a hand like QTs, J9s, KTs, etc you'll be in there for a variety of hands such as straights, flushes, two pair, etc. Becareful though playing hands like J9s and catching merely a J or 9. Often times your kick won't be good and you'll lose to a hand like AJ.

89s, 78s, 67s, 56s, 45s, 34s
- These hands are called suited connectors and they are similar to the hands above like J9s, QTs, etc. When you play these hands they are Draws. And if you remember from above that means that they favor lots of people in the pot and you like to play them "in the back" (late position). A great example would be to have 89s on the dealer button, the last position, and 5 people were already in before you (raise or not). You are getting great odds on this hand to play it. You are hoping to catch an openended straight draw, a flush draw, or even two pair. You can also run into hands like 889 on the flop when you have 78s, or you could even flop the nuts like this: 89s and the board is JT7. What you don't want to do is get caught up chasing down draws with these when the odds don't justify it. Also you don't want to play these against few opponents for more then a bet. For example a really bad way to play would be this: you have 89s and no one calls except one really tight old lady in front of you who raises. You call (bad move) and you end up heads up with her. The flop comes back Qs4d3d. You have nothing but a backdoor flush draw (meaning both cards have to hit, which is over 1/20 to do so). She bets, you call and go for it. The turn brings Qs4d3dAs. Now you think you may be lucky so you call again hoping to catch another spade (which is still worse then 1/4). You miss it and she wins since you have nothing. You played really poorly, going against the odds. Your 89s plays well against a lot of people so that the draw is worth while.

A5-ATs, A5-A2s, K9s-K5s, Q9s-Q5s, J8s, T8s, 97s, 86s, 75s, 64s, 53s, 42s
- these are marginal at best hands. The only exception would be the ATs. It would probably be best if you avoided them at first until you become more comfortable in the game playing good hands. If the game is very loose though, with lots of people chasing the whole way to the river, these hands can be profitable. We play A5s and below and ATs and above because they both have ways to hit straights as well as the flushes. Notice that A6s can't make a straight using both cards. When you play this type of hand you really aren't looking for the A since your kicker will rarely be good. Instead you are looking for the straight, flush or two pair. Because they are such long shots you'll want lots and lots of bad players in the hand to justify the call preflop. The same goes for hands like K9s, T8s, etc. You'll play these hands in late position, when you see lots of people are in and it costs you very little. Don't get trapped though. If you play a hand like T8s and the flop comes back T high with no other draws for you it would be all right to just get out. There are to many cards that can come and beat you. You would much prefer to see a flush or straight draw.

Before continuing, how do the hands above fit into our three categories?
Big Pair hands include things such as AA, KK, AK, QK, etc. Any situation where you have the top pair or over pair would be this.
Drawing hands would include lots of hands above like suited connectors, small pairs, etc.
Milking Hands really can be anything where you get hit hard on the flop and these would be two pair or better (three of a kind, sets, full houses, straights, etc).