Ranking Poker Starting Hands

Poker Hand Rankings - Texas Holdem Starting Hands Chart At the bottom of this page is a comprehensive listing of Texas Hold'em starting hands based on their EV (expected value). Expected value is the average number of big blinds this hand will make or lose. Furthermore, the rankings are standard for all the most popular types of poker games including No-Limit Hold’em, Pot-Limit Omaha and Seven-Card Stud. In addition to a poker hand rankings chart, also provided are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding poker hand rankings, as well as the game of poker in general.

  • Starting hand charts typically feature pocket pairs running diagonally from top left (AA) to bottom right (22), with suited cards right and above, and unsuited cards to the left and below, the pairs.
  • In his famous Super / System, universally regarded as the bible of poker strategy books, poker legend Doyle Brunson devoted the third chapter to his list of 10 trouble hands – or starting hands that should only be played in certain situations if at all. And Ace Queen was at the top of that list for Texas Dolly.

Starting Hand Selection:Chen Formula : Sklansky Starting Hand Groups

The Sklansky & Malmuth starting hands table.

Poker Starting Hands Ranking Pdf

1AA, AKs, KK, QQ, JJ
2AK, AQs, AJs, KQs, TT
3AQ, ATs, KJs, QJs, JTs, 99
4AJ, KQ, KTs, QTs, J9s, T9s, 98s, 88
5A9s - A2s, KJ, QJ, JT, Q9s, T8s, 97s, 87s, 77, 76s, 66
6AT, KT, QT, J8s, 86s, 75s, 65s, 55, 54s
7K9s - K2s, J9, T9, 98, 64s, 53s, 44, 43s, 33, 22
8A9, K9, Q9, J8, J7s, T8, 96s, 87, 85s, 76, 74s, 65, 54, 42s, 32s
9All other hands not required above.

This table comes from the book Hold 'em Poker for Advanced Players by David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth.

This is a strategy book for limit Hold'em, but the starting hand groups do have some practical use in no limit Hold'em.

What is the Sklansky and Malmuth starting hands table?

The table is a general ranking of hands in Texas Hold'em.

The Sklansky and Malmuth starting hands table groups together certain hands in Texas Hold'em based on their strength. Starting with the strongest set of hands that you can be dealt in group 1, the hands get progressively weaker working down the table until the virtually unplayable hands in group 9.

The rough idea is that a hand in one group has roughly the same value and can be played the same way preflop as any other hand in that group.

How to use the starting hands table.

Ranking best starting poker hands

Ranking Poker Starting Hands Signals

In their book, Sklansky and Malmuth provide some in-depth guidelines for starting hand strategy in limit Texas Hold'em using this table. Unfortunately, I'm not going to work out any guidelines for you for the NL Hold'em game using this table because:

  1. It would be quite a tricky job.
  2. It would be difficult to remember and implement.
  3. Like any starting hand strategy, it would have its flaws.
  4. You should avoid using strict guidelines and set rules as much as possible during play.

So really there is not a lot to take away from this table from a purely strategic perspective. Nonetheless it's interesting to see how specific starting hands compare to one another based on their preflop value.

If you're really after a starting hand strategy guideline, try the Chen Formula.

Ranking Best Starting Poker Hands

Sklansky and Malmuth hand rankings evaluation.

Although it's a very popular hand group rankings table, it's not going to do you too much good to learn the whole thing off by heart. In my opinion, the real value of this table is being able to see how different starting hands can be grouped together and ranked based on their value before the flop.

For other useful charts and tables, see the odds charts page from the Texas Hold'em tools section.

Ranking Of All Starting Poker Hands

Go back to the awesome Texas Hold'em Strategy.

Ranking Poker Starting Hands Spread


Ranking Poker Starting Hands