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Starting poker hands in Texas Hold'em number a whopping 169 different possible combinations. There are 5 main types: a pair, connecting (consecutive), suited connector, gapped (non-consecutive), or suited gapped.

It's important to know the value of your cards with relation to your position in the round of betting. When you are in early position, you must only play good hands, as the knowledge of your opponent's actions is very limited. If your hand is mediocre and you call or bet in early position, you will most likely be forced out if any one of the players behind you chooses to bet.

There are some poker hands that are strong enough to play in early position. You can play your gut and take chances with less, but try to limit your early position hands to those indicated below.

Playable poker hands in early position:

• Pairs seven and higher

Suited
• Aces with king through ten
• Jack with ten or nine
• Ten and nine

Unsuited
• Aces with king through ten
• King with queen or jack

If you are in middle position (fifth, sixth, or seventh player to act) you can loosen up the starting cards you might call with. In this position it is more feasible to play smaller pairs and suited hands or unsuited connectors. In addition to the starting hands indicated in early position, you can play those indicated below.

Playable poker hands in middle position:

• Pairs five and six

Suited
• Aces with nine through six
• Kings with nine
• Queens with nine or eight
• Jack with eight
• Ten with eight
• Nine with eight

Unsuited
• King with ten
• Queen with jack or ten
• Jack with ten

When you are in late position (last or next-to-last) there is a much wider array of starting cards to play. Late position players have the advantage of seeing how every other player's action before making a move. Last position can play all combinations listed above and those listed below. It is not recommended to play poor cards just because of prime positioning if the pot has been raised significantly.

Playable poker hands in late position:

• Any pair

Suited
• Aces with five through two
• Kings with eight through two
• Jack with seven
• Ten with seven
• Eight with seven
• Seven with six or five
• Six with five
• Five with four

Unsuited
• King with nine
• Queen with nine
• Jack with nine or eight
• Ten with nine or eight
• Nine with eight or seven
• Eight with seven

By following the above guidelines you should be able to make the most of your starting poker hands.

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