Did you know that there are 169 possible hands that poker players could be dealt to start with? Out of all these hands, only 5 hands are considered to be “excellent” hands – AK (Same suit) JJ, QQ, KK and AA. Irrespective of your chip position and bankroll, you should always ensure that you play these hands as long as the bet amount is not very high. However, if you have players who have been betting and increasing the bets, you should try to refrain from playing unless you have kings or aces.
By now you must have begun to realize that the main secret of winning in poker is to understand which hand to play. Remember, playing every hand and basing your decisions on the first set of three cards that open up can make you lose a huge sum of money. You need to realize that most sensible players end up folding approximately 80% of their hands. However, if the pot has not been opened before your turn, i.e., no one has called the game before you, you should try your hand in that particular round. Once someone ahead of you raises, your hand selection should be narrowed down considerably before you play further. What this essentially means is that it is OK to bluff, but the best bluff is always the one where you control the outcome of the game, i.e., you have cards that are worth playing with. For example, you should never play in a game where you have a JQ and another player has raised the bet. In this case, KK, AA, QK and KA have a better chance of winning the game.
Let’s bring statistics into the equation. It has been observed that most of the players who end up on the winning side play about 18 – 22% of the hands. If you’re new into the world of poker, you simply need to understand that you should be playing a maximum of 15 – 20 rounds in the entire session. Look at it this way. If your opponents play about 45% of their hands and you play anything between 20 – 25%, you should normally have a major advantage in each of those hands. However, the importance of blinds should not be diminished either.
Another factor that vastly influences the percentage of hands you should play is whether the game is played in a passive or an aggressive manner. There are a number of hands that can hardly be termed as playable the moment someone raises the pot. A raise normally indicates that your opponents have anything between above average – excellent hands. This considerably reduces your own odds of winning.
Remember, the more sessions you play, the more experience you gain. And the more experience you gain, the more rounds you should be able to play. And as most pros like to put it, the number of hands you play should actually depend on your own skill levels. The more advanced you are, the more hands you can play and succeed in.