Top Best Starting Hands for Texas Hold 'Em Poker

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 Holdem is a good place to start learning. Note that there is some disagreement over which hands are the best, and it depends on part on your skill level and style of play. And a great starting hand can turn bad quickly with the wrong community cards. This list reflects a consensus of the resources I trust the most.

  • 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 Holdem Poker.
  • 04 of 10

    Ace-King (suited)

    This is where people start to disagree. A suited ace-king, also known as "big slick," is my 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 my 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 my list of the top 10 best starting hands for Texas Holdem Poker -- the "big slick," an ace-king.

  • 10 of 10


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