These Are the 10 Best Starting Hands in Texas Hold'em Poker

Know if Your Hand is Playable

Texas Hold 'Em
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One of the keys to being a strong Texas Hold'em poker player is to know which hands are playable and which are not. This list of the top 10 best starting hands for Texas Hold'em is a good place to start learning. Do keep in mind, however, that there is some disagreement over which hands are the best, and it does depend in part on your skill level and style of play. Also, a great starting hand can turn bad quickly with the wrong community cards. This list reflects a consensus of the most trusted resources.

If you are new to Texas Hold'em—or poker altogether—you may need to brush up on some of the terminologies. In this type of poker game, there are cards dealt to the players, called hole cards, and cards dealt to the board, called community cards. When a player has a pair of their hole cards it is called a "pocket pair." And if the pair is made up of face cards (jack, queen, king) and their suits match, they are "suited;" if they aren't the same, then they are considered "offsuit." In addition to this lingo, there are many nicknames for cards and hands that you may encounter along the way.

  • 01 of 10


    Man playing poker, close-up of hand and two aces
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    A pair of aces, also known as "pocket rockets" (and sometimes "American Airlines") is the best starting hand for Texas hold'em.

  • 02 of 10


    Second on the list is a pair of kings, also known as "cowboys" or "King Kong."

  • 03 of 10


    A pair of queens, also known as "ladies," rounds out the top three best starting hands for Texas hold'em poker.

  • 04 of 10

    Ace-King (Suited)

    This is where people start to disagree. A suited (both the same suit) ace-king, also known as "big slick," is our pick as the fourth best starting hand for Texas hold'em.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Ace-Queen (Suited)

    The suited "big chick" or "little slick," the nicknames given to a pocket ace-queen, is fifth on the list.

  • 06 of 10


    A pair of jacks—also known as "hooks" or "fishhooks"—checks in at number six on this list.

  • 07 of 10

    King-Queen (Suited)

    A suited royal couple, king-queen, is next in the list of Texas Hold'em poker's most powerful starting hands.

  • 08 of 10

    Ace-Jack (Suited)

    Nicknamed "blackjack" for obvious reasons, and sometimes called "Ajax," the ace-jack combo rates eighth.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Ace-King (Offsuit)

    Only one offsuit non-pair makes it into the list of the top 10 best starting hands for Texas Hold'em poker—the "big slick," an ace-king.

  • 10 of 10


    This is the only starting hand in the top 10 without a face card or an ace: a pair of tens (aka "dimes"). Some players believe that a suited king-jack is a stronger starting hand.