If you're just starting out playing no-limit texas hold'em, you might be wondering what hands you should play pre-flop.
Well, there's no simple answer to that question. The best texas hold'em pre-flop strategy depends on a lot of factors including, but not limited to, your opponents, your image and position at the table, and how many chips you have.
There are basically four styles of play. They're the Tight-Aggressive (TAG), Loose-Aggressive (LAG), Tight-Passive (TP) and Loose-Passive (LP). In order to really master the game, you'll have to know when it's best to play tight or loose, aggressive or passive. But for someone who's just starting out, the best strategy is the TAG one.
Why play tight-aggressive?
You're going to be playing very few hands, which is going to give you more credibility when you decide to play a hand, and you'll find yourself in less difficult spots. You'll also play your hands aggressively. In other words, you'll bet and raise more often than you'll call. This gives you the opportunity to win not only when you hit your hand on the flop, but also by making other players fold when you miss the flop.
Before we move on to the hands you should play, let's take a look at the different positions at the table. Let's consider a table with ten players. The first three players to act are in early position, the first one is said to be "Under The Gun", and they're nominated as UTG, UTG+1 and UTG+2. The next three are in middle position, MP1, MP2 and MP3. The next two are in late position. They're the Cuttoff (CO) and the Button (BU). The next two are the Small Blind (SB) and the Big Blind (BB).
Now that you know why you should play TAG and the positions at the poker table, let's cut to the chase and see the hands you should play, and how to play them pre-flop.
First the high pairs, AA, KK and QQ. You should raise with these hands even if one player has already raised, but if there's been two raises before, you just continue with AA and KK and try to go all-in. The middle pairs, JJ and TT (tens), you should also raise if no one raised before you. If there was just one raise, you can call.
Lower pairs, 99 through 22, can be called when facing a raise from another player, the intention is to try to hit a set on the flop or fold otherwise. When not facing a raise though, these pairs should be folded in early position, and called from other positions. Unless you're in late position and everyone folded to you. In this case you should raise and try to steal the blinds without seeing a flop.
These are hands that contains an Ace and another card. First AK, this one should be played exactly like QQ. AQ through AT can be raised from middle position if everyone folded to you. If someone called before, you should raise only in late position or if you're the SB. If there was a raise before you, you should just fold your hand regardless of your position.
Lower aces, A9 through A2, can be played only if both cards are of the same suit. You should only play them from late position or the blinds by raising if you're first to act, or calling if someone called before you. You should fold if there was a raise before.
These are hands that contains two face cards, to make it simpler, a ten is considered a face card. KQ, KT and JT are examples of face cards. These should be played from late position or the blinds if everyone folded before. If someone called, you can call as well if you're in middle position or better. You should fold to any raise.
They're T9, 98, 87, 76, 65 and 54. Both cards should be of the same suit. You're either raising them from late position if you're first to act, or call them from middle position or better if someone called before you. You're folding these hands otherwise.
Every other hand should be folded.
Remember, this is just a beginner texas hold'em pre-flop strategy suggestion and should get you winning in online micro stakes games. As you get more experienced and move up in levels, you can (and should) modify your strategy.
Good luck at the tables!