Knowing the value of your poker starting hands is clearly very important. Although it may seem obvious at first it can be very tricky. Even though often it’s a case of determining your preflop odds and making a decision based on what’s happening around the table, there are some rules of thumb, based on preflop odds, that can help you. Keeping them in mind will make it easier to throw away your cards or bet aggressively from the beginning.
Let’s start with poker starting hands that are easier to bet with. If you are dealt Ace King the rule of thumb bet to make is four times the big blind if no one else has raised. Many players are happy to push all of their chips in the middle before the flop with this hand, though personally we think that this is a massively exaggerated play to make.
Essentially what you want is to play aggressively enough to push most people off their hands but for one other player to call you pre-flop to make sure you get paid out. You’re going to be following up your pre-flop raise with a continuation bet regardless of whether you made a pair on the flop. This should be enough to force out the person who called you and if it isn’t, you have now collected enough information to know that the player still in the hand is holding something very nice and it is time to consider laying down your AK.
Getting dealt a pocket pair is a double edged sword. Before the flop is dealt you can have reasonable expectations of holding the best hand at the table. Once the flop is dealt you can go from having the best hand to the worst. One rule to go by is that if you have a pocket pair lower than sixes, simply limp in to the hand hoping to flop a set. With pockets that are sixes or higher bet aggressively pre-flop and make a nice continuation bet after the flop is dealt, regardless of what comes up. When dealt mega pockets, QQ, KK or AA it is still a wise move to play them aggressively rather than attempting to slow play with them. The reason for this is that once the flop is dealt, anyone still in the hand with you could have hit any number of monsters while you are still sitting there holding nothing better than a pair in your hand.