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Johanna Gullberg
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Poker cheat sheets can come in handy if you’re new to this extremely popular card game. Despite the name, using one isn’t exactly cheating. Think of a poker cheat sheet for beginners as an educational tool to help you learn the best hands and refine your strategy.

Whether you’re a poker newbie or a master gunning for the World Series of Poker, checking out a poker cheat sheet is a great way to brush up on the basics. Below, you’ll find a list of the best poker hands, a guide to table positions, a list of poker rules, and some killer strategies to tip the odds in your favor.

Poker Cheat Sheet for Beginners – Poker Hand Ranking

Poker hands

Before you can start pulling in big prizes, you’ll need to understand how to play poker and poker hands from best to worst. You might ask yourself how many poker hands are there? Short answer: there are ten Here, you’ll find a list of poker hands ranked by desirability.

Royal Flush

If you get a royal flush (also called a royal straight flush), you’re essentially guaranteed to win the game, as a royal flush beats all other poker hands. Royal flushes are extremely rare, so you’ve got to be lucky or highly skilled to get this hand. It consists of a 10 (also referred to as T), jack, queen, king, and ace card, all of the same suit.

Straight Flush

Straight flushes beat almost all other poker hands as it is the next-best hand in poker, and it’s slightly easier to get than the royal variety. It consists of five cards in sequential order, all of the same suit. For example, a hand of five, six, seven, eight, and nine cards, all diamonds, would be a straight flush.

Four of a Kind

A four-of-a-kind is precisely what it sounds like: any four matching numbered cards. The suit doesn’t matter. So, for example, you could make a four-of-a-kind with five of hearts, five of diamonds, five of spades, and five of clubs. Such hands are also incredibly strong in a game of poker.

Full House

To make a full house in poker, you’ll need a combination of one pair plus three of a kind. Suits are irrelevant for this hand. To illustrate, you could make a full house with three cards of the same value, say eights, and two other cards of the same value, say 10s. A full house beats all hands listed below.

Flush

This hand is the royal flush’s little cousin. To make it, you need five cards – all the same suit (the order doesn’t matter). A hand with the three of diamonds, five of diamonds, eight of diamonds, 10 of diamonds, and jack of diamonds would be a flush.

Straight

To remember this hand, think “five numbers in a straight line.” For a straight, you’ll need five cards of any suit in sequential order. A straight would be a hand such as the three of spades, four of hearts, five of diamonds, six of diamonds, and seven of hearts.

Three of A Kind

This hand is rather self-explanatory. To get it, you simply need to collect three of the same card, regardless of suit. Three 10s, three jacks, or three kings would get you a three-of-a-kind.

Two Pair

This hand includes two different pairs of cards, and the suit doesn’t matter. Although quite low in hand ranking, a two pair beats many opponents sitting with only one pair or a high card on their hand.

One Pair

To get this hand, you simply need to collect two of any card, regardless of suit. It’s the easiest hand to get in poker, but that means it’s just as easy to beat. For a shot at the win, try to build on your pair by making a two pair or three of a kind.

High Card

A high card isn’t exactly a “hand” per se. It’s simply the highest-ranked card in your hand. This could be an ace, a king, or even a two (if your highest card is a two, you should probably fold now). You’re not likely to win with just one high card, but if other players have awful hands, you might be able to claim victory.

The Best Starting Hands in Poker

The beginning of a poker match is full of promise and excitement. Which starting hands will you get? Might you end up with a couple of aces, or will you get stuck with low-value unsuited cards? Is your hand a winner, or should you concede defeat before making a bet?

As with any card game, it’s essential to get off to a strong start. If you have any of the starting hands listed below, hold on to your cards. With this poker cheat sheet, you can turn these hands into winners.

A Pair

You’re off to a great start if you get a pair in your starting hand. You can make the following hands starting with one pair:

  • Two pair
  • Three of a kind
  • Four of a kind
  • Full house

Therefore, it’s often good to hold on to a pair, even if it’s a pair of twos.

High Card(s)

High cards may not seem that great in the poker hand rankings, especially if they’re not paired with a matching or suited card. However, having a high card opens up many strategies to you. You could get three of a kind, two pair, or even a royal flush.

Not all high cards are winners, though, even if you have a jack, queen, or king. Poker experts generally recommend folding the following high card pairs, as they’re not likely to score you a win:

  • K/8 through K/2
  • Q/8 through Q/2
  • J/8 through J/2
  • T/7 through T/2
  • 9/7 through 9/2
  • 8/6 through 8/2
  • 7/6 through 7/2
  • 6/5 through 6/2
  • 5/4 through 5/2
  • 4/3, 4/2
  • 3/2

However, whether you should fold, check, call, or raise depends on your position (early, middle, or late), which I’ll cover in more detail below.

Connected Cards – Especially Same Suit

Connected cards (such as 5/6 and 7/8) are wonderful for starting hands, especially if they’re the same suit. With connected cards, you can make a straight, straight flush, or royal flush.

If you’ve got suited connecting cards, most poker pros recommend checking or raising in the early and middle positions.

Connecting cards are worth less if they’re not suited. If you reach the last rounds of betting with a nine of diamonds and an eight of clubs, for instance, it’s advisable to fold. However, a hand that includes a nine of diamonds and an eight of diamonds is usually still playable, even fairly late in the game.

The Importance of Poker Table Positions

If you barely know the difference between checking, calling, and raising, you need a serious primer on poker position names. Understanding these positions is important because where you sit dictates your strategy.

Generally, the more players to the left of your position, the tighter you should play. Of course, it’s a bit more complicated than that, so let’s dive into the details regarding early, middle, and late positions.

Early Positions

“Early position” refers to the first two or three players directly clockwise of the blinds. You might also see the early position referred to as “under the gun” or UTG. This position is so named because the UTG player acts first (after the blinds), which is certainly a lot of pressure!

Being in the early position is a disadvantage because you don’t know what other players are going to do. It’s usually best to act conservatively in this position, at least until you’ve got a better hand and have gone through a few betting rounds.

Small Blind

The first player to the left of the dealer puts up the small blind. If there are only two players, the person with the dealer button provides the small blind. The small blind happens before the dealer hands out any cards.

This is a mandatory bet to provide value to the starting pot. The small blind is equal to half of the table’s minimum bet. So, if the minimum bet is $20, the small blind would be $10.

After you’ve placed the small blind, betting begins and eventually comes back to you. Now, you’ll have to decide whether you want to check, raise, or fold.

If almost everyone else has folded, you may want to stay in the game. If, however, your hand is no good, it might be better to fold. If you fold, you lose the small blind.

There’s no sugarcoating it: The small blind isn’t a great position to be in. Unless you start with a great hand, like a pair of kings, you probably won’t win. So, your goal in this position should be to lose as few chips as possible.

There are a few strategies you can use in the small blind position. One is to avoid making what’s called “donk bets.” Donk bets are made by players out of the betting order. For instance, if you have the small blind position and raise right after the flop, that’s a donk bet.

It’s best to avoid doing this because you lose the chance to see what other players are going to do first. Plus, you might reveal more information about your hand than you intended.

Another strategy is to try stealing the pot from the big blind player instead of folding. To do this, you can raise the big blind and challenge them for the pot.

It’s usually best to try stealing with a good hand. If you regularly steal with bad hands, other players are going to think you’re always bluffing, which can come back to bite you.

Big Blind

The person seated to the left of the small blind position (or two seats to the left of the dealer) puts up the big blind. Like the small blind, this bet is mandatory. The big blind is equal to the table’s minimum bet.

The big blind is a disadvantageous position to be in, although it’s not as bad as the small blind. If you choose to fold, you’ll get back the big blind and the small blind.

Successfully navigating the big blind position involves some math (sorry). To come out ahead, you’ll need to pay attention to three things:

  • Your pot odds to call
  • Your opponent’s raising range
  • How well your hand realizes equity

Let’s go over each of these. First, your pot odds to call. Pot odds tell you how many times you must win the pot to profit by calling. For instance, if the pot is $10 and you call $5, you’d need to win more than 33.3% of the time to come out ahead. To calculate pot odds:

  1. Determine the final pot size if you were to call. For example, say the pot currently sits at $150, and it costs $50 to call. If you call, the final pot will be $200.
  2. Divide the size of your call by the size of the pot. A $50 call divided by a $200 pot works out to 0.25.
  3. Multiply the number you got in the last step by 100 to get a percentage (25%, in this case). You would have to win 25% of the time to profit.

Next, let’s move on to your opponent’s raising range. This is simple enough to understand. If your opponent raises early, they probably have a good hand (or they’re bluffing). It may be best to fold in this case.

What about realizing equity? Realized equity means the percentage of the pot you can expect to win with a hand based on its raw equity.

Calculating the exact amount of realized equity is virtually impossible, so you’ll just have to pay attention to your cards. Suited and connecting cards are the most effective at realizing equity.

If you remember one thing, let it be this: The big blind is largely a defensive position. Always keep an eye on what your opponents do, and act accordingly. For instance, if you’re facing an opponent who raises most of her hands from the small blind, regardless of quality, you can tell that they’re probably bluffing (or not a very good player). On the other hand, if a normally tight small blind player raises, this is a sign that you should shore up your defenses.

UTG (Under the Gun)

The under the gun (UTG) player is the next to act after the small and big blinds. If this is your position, you’ll have to act before the flop, which puts you at a big disadvantage.

This means that you should fold normally promising hands that would otherwise be good to have were you to act post-flop. If you don’t start with connecting cards, pocket pairs, suited aces, or suited broadway cards, it’s best to fold.

Your UTG strategy should differ depending on whether you’re playing in cash games or tournaments. Cash games afford you more opportunities to play fast and loose, so you might try to play hands that you’d otherwise fold. In tournaments, it’s better to play tightly and conservatively.

Let’s walk through a pre-flop and post-flop betting strategy. Pre-flop, if a player simply calls, you’ll move on to the flop, and the game continues. But what if they three-bet (re-raise before the flop)?

What you should do depends on how good your hand is and what position the player who re-raised has. If your hand is strong, you might four-bet (raise again). You could also simply call to bluff and make other players think your hand is weaker than it is.

After the flop, watch how many players call, raise, and fold. If several players fold, and your hand remains strong, you might have a chance to win. If players continue to raise and your hand doesn’t look great, it’s best to fold.

Middle Positions

In poker, middle position refers to the players after the blinds and UTG but before the late positions. This is a decent position to be in, as you have the chance to see what other players do before taking any action.

Your strategy should depend on whether any other players have raised yet or not. If the pot is un-raised, you can be a bit liberal with your plays. Hands such as A/A, K/J, 8/8, 7/6, and K/T are good to play here.

If other players raise before the flop, though, discard weaker hands such as T/8 and K/J. If you raise instead, you might find it hard to steal the blinds because players in the late positions may try to isolate you.

Here’s an example of what you might do in the middle position. The game you’re playing isn’t very aggressive, and you think the flop will be good. If a few opponents pass, it’s best to fold. Should you continue to play, you might end up isolated by a player with a better hand later on.

The middle position gives you the opportunity to decide how many players you want to go up against. If you have a strong hand (such as A/A, Q/Q, K/Q, or 9/9) and there are callers to your right, you can usually safely raise. Typically, this will cause a few players to fold if their hands are no good. You might then face off against just one or two other players.

If you’d rather play against more opponents, it’s better to call. This way, players won’t feel threatened by your hand and will stay in the game.

Late Positions

Late positions, by far, offer the biggest advantage in poker. In the later positions, you get to see other players’ actions before it’s your turn. That means you can act aggressively, which is why most poker players consider this position to be the most fun.

In the late positions, you have the opportunity to learn player tells, too. For instance, you might notice that a certain player always scratches their nose when they have bad cards or taps their fingers on the table when they have a great hand. Use these tells to your advantage to come out ahead.

Hijack

The hijack position is located to the right of the cutoff position (more on that position below) and two seats to the right of the button (the last position). The hijack, then, is the third-last position to play.

The hijack position offers an advantage because you’ve seen the plays before you and can raise your bet before the button and cutoff players, even if your hand isn’t all that great.

In the hijack position, it can be wise to raise your hand pre-flop. This causes the button and cutoff players to question the strength of their hands. They may fold if their confidence is shaken, allowing you to take the blinds.

Your strategy in the hijack position should depend on what’s already been played. If several players have raised before you, it’s wise to assume they have strong hands. You’ll want to eliminate starting-middle positions to boost your chances of a win.

On the other hand, if there’s only been one raise or several people have folded, you can be more aggressive. In this case, you’ll usually have an advantage should the game head to the flop.

Here are a few common scenarios you might face in the hijack position and how to respond:

  • There hasn’t been any action before your turn: In this case, you can play a wider range of starting hands. It’s wise to raise often to get more chances to take the small and big blinds.
  • Multiple players have raised before your turn: If your hand is average, it’s best to fold. Only play if you have a very strong hand.
  • One player has raised before your turn: Again, continue to play if you have a strong starting hand. You can bluff if you like, as this puts pressure on players in the early positions.
  • The button, small blind, or big blind re-raises your open blind: Positions that re-raise could be bluffing, but more likely, they have strong hands. If your hand is good, proceed. Otherwise, you might want to fold.

Cutoff

The cutoff is located to the direct right of the button. This position is so named because the player usually tries to “cut off” the button. If this happens, it ensures they’re in position against everyone else in the hand.

The cutoff is one of the best positions to be in at the poker table. You can play a wide range of hands, giving you more chances to three-bet and push the button to fold their hand.

This position is also ideal for aggressive and tight players alike. If you normally play tightly, you can loosen up a bit in this spot and play hands that you normally wouldn’t. It gives you a good opportunity to devise new strategies.

In the cutoff, your goal should be to open raise. This gives you a great chance to steal the blinds without ever making it to the flop.

Although this position rewards aggression, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • If you three-bet, the button, small blind, or big blind might choose to re-raise before the flop.
  • The button, small blind, and big blind can easily squeeze your cold calls.
  • Because you’re playing against the hijack and earlier positions, you’re facing a fairly strong opening range.
  • Typically, you should raise first (CO) about 27% of the time, three-bet about 7% of the time, and cold call around 8% of the time.

As the cutoff, you should adjust your strategy based on variables such as:

  • Opponent skill: If you’re facing a bad player, you can play more hands.
  • Opponent bet size: The larger your opponent’s open raise, the tighter you must defend.
  • Steals: If the small and big blinds fold often, you can increase your CO to more than 27%.
  • Formation: The later your opponent’s position, the wider you may defend.
  • Cold calls: If the button and blinds play tightly and don’t squeeze often, you can cold call more hands in the CO.

Button

The button, or BTN, is the player who acts last. It can also refer to the person who deals the cards. However, poker games in casinos already have a dealer, so BTN usually just refers to the player’s position.

The BTN is by far one of the most advantageous positions at the table. Here’s why:

  • You’re in a great position to steal the blinds.
  • You’re guaranteed to be in position post-flop.
  • You’re able to act hyper-aggressively.

The player in the BTN position should aim to get other players to fold pre-flop, allowing them to take the blinds. However, you can still profit even when facing open raises. Strong players typically target open raises with three-bets and cold calls.

For the best chance of profit, you should raise first about 48% of the time, three-bet around 9% of the time, and cold call about 10% of the time.

The BTN position is in an excellent place for iso-raising. Iso-raising is when you make a pre-flop raise against a limper (a player who calls often instead of raising).

Squeezing and overcalling are good strategies when you’re facing off against two opponents. Squeezing refers to a three-bet made after there has already been at least one caller, while overcalling refers to a call after a player has already called before you on the current street.

Starting Hands for Different Table Positions

Knowing whether to fold or keep your starting hand is the key to victory in poker. You’ll have to consider your position to determine whether your hand is decent or trash. A good hand in one position might not be so great in another.

Before delving into good starting hands, let’s discuss a few different hand types in more detail. Pocket pairs (such as A/A and 8/8) always look promising, but some are better than others.

Premium pairs, such as A/A, K/K, Q/Q, and J/J, are the very best you can have. Press the advantage by raising to build a large pot before the flop. Some players instead like to call when they have a premium pair to set a trap. However, don’t do this with anything but A/A, as a single ace on the flop can easily outdo pairs like K/K and Q/Q.

Medium pairs, such as T/T and 9/9, can potentially win a pot without improvement. If you have such a pair and the pot is unopened, it’s often worth raising.

Small pairs, such as 4/4 and 3/3, are trickier to work with. You might get lucky with a three or four of a kind, but it’s a gamble. In the late position, you could raise an unopened pot with a small pair as a bluff. This potentially wards off callers. If you do get called, though, you have a slim chance of coming out ahead.

Premium hands, such as K/Q and A/K, are nice to have but not as good as premium pairs. If you have a premium hand and are in the late position, consider raising because you’ll usually have the best hand on the flop, and there’s the potential to make an even stronger hand after the flop.

Watch out, though, because other players can easily beat premium hands if you get unlucky on the flop. If others raise post-flop, you should probably fold and sit things out until the next match.

Now, let’s talk aces. It’s exciting to get an ace in your starting hand, but don’t expect an easy win. If you don’t have a strong kicker card and another ace comes up on the flop, other players with an ace and a stronger kicker can easily beat you.

Suited connectors, such as the seven of diamonds and eight of diamonds, have the potential to make a flush or straight. However, you must be realistic, as getting such a hand is rather rare. If you get suited connectors in the early positions, you should either call or fold. In the later positions, it can be worth raising suited connectors.

Having said all that, which hands are best for which positions? Generally, if you’re in an early position, it’s best to play conservatively. In the middle and late positions, you can be more aggressive. It’s not quite as simple as that, of course, so I’ll provide some ideal starting hands for each position below.

Early

In the early positions, you don’t have too many options, so you must play tightly. You’ll mostly want to stick with premium pairs and strong aces.

Which hands to keep and which to fold will depend on whether you’re playing at a six-max or nine-max table order.

For a nine-max order, play:

  • Premium pairs: A/A, K/K, Q/Q, J/J
  • Strong aces: A/K (suited and unsuited), A/Q (suited and unsuited), A/J (suited)

For a six-max order, play:

  • All of the premium pairs listed above, plus T/T and 9/9
  • Strong aces: A/K (suited and unsuited), A/Q (suited and unsuited), A/J (suited and unsuited), A/T (suited)

Middle

Middle positions have more leeway in which hands they can play. For a nine-max table order, keep these cards:

  • Premium pairs: A/A, K/K, Q/Q, J/J
  • T/T, 9/9, 8/8
  • K/Q suited, A/T suited, A/J unsuited
  • T/9, J/T, Q/J

For a six-max table order, keep all of the above hands, plus:

  • 7/7
  • A/T unsuited, K/J and K/T suited
  • 8/9, 9/T

Late

Late positions have a serious advantage, so in this position, you can afford to play more aggressively. For a nine-max table order, keep all of the above hands listed for early and middle positions, plus:

  • All pairs
  • A/7 suited or better
  • 7/8 and 8/9 suited

If you’re at a six-max table, play::

  • All pairs 6/6+
  • K/T+
  • A/6+
  • Unsuited and suited connectors 6/7+

Texas Hold’Em Cheat Sheet – Best Starting Hands

Compared to other poker games, Texas Hold’em is the most popular poker variant in the world. The game’s origins are unclear, but most agree that it hails from the city of Robstown, Texas. The game wasn’t introduced to Vegas until 1963 when a man named Corky McCorquodale brought it to the California Club. Sadly, this casino shut down in 1973, so you can’t enjoy Texas Hold ’em there any longer.

Texas Hold’em is fairly simple to play but challenging to master. The dealer gives each player two pocket cards and then reveals five community cards. There are then four rounds of betting, plus another three after the dealer reveals more community cards. From these cards, players try to make the best hand.

To make the best hand in this game, here’s a Texas Hold’em cheat sheet for a few terms you should know:

  • The flop: Includes the first three community cards
  • The turn: The fourth community card
  • The river: The fifth and final community card

What are the best starting hands in Texas Hold’em? You certainly can’t go wrong with pairs, and the higher, the better. A starting hand like A/A, K/K, or Q/Q gives you a great chance to win the pot. Paired jacks aren’t quite as strong, but in the hands of an ultra-aggressive player, they can be used to force three- and four-bets to fold.

A suited A/K or Q/J hand is nice to have because with it, you can make a straight or flush. You can also use this hand to bluff. Non-suited A/K and Q/J hands are still valuable, just not quite as much.

In this Texas Hold’em cheat sheet, you can see the best starting hands at a glance.

  1. Pairs – the higher, the better
  2. A/K, A/Q, A/J, A/10
  3. K/Q, K/J
  4. Q/J
  5. J/10
  6. 9/10, 8/9, 7/8, 7/6 (suited connectors)

Three-Card Poker Cheat Sheet – Best Starting Hands

Three-card poker, as the name implies, is a game that utilizes only three cards. A player also serves as the dealer. The player-dealer may only bank the hand twice in a row before the position moves in a clockwise position around the table.

The game is played like so:

  1. The dealer shuffles the cards and waits for other players to place their ante and bonus wagers. When players are done placing wagers, the dealer says, “No more bets.”
  2. The dealer gives a stack of cards to each player, starting with the player to the left of their position.
  3. Each player who has made an ante wager can now either make a play wager equal to their ante wager or fold the hand.
  4. Next, the dealer will reveal any remaining player-dealer cards and use them to make the best possible hand. They need a minimum of queen-high to qualify for play. If the hand doesn’t qualify and the player’s hand beats it, the dealer must return the wager to the player. If the hand does qualify, the dealer must stack every player’s play wager atop the ante.
  5. Now, the dealer reveals the three-card hand of every active player. If the dealer’s hand is better, they collect the ante and play bets.

In three-card poker, the ranking of most hands is the same as Texas hold ’em, except a straight is ranked higher than a flush. So, the best hands are a mini-royal flush (A/K/Q) and straight flush, followed by a three of a kind, straight, flush, pair, and, lastly, a high card.

Generally, you should bet when you have a Q/6/4 or better and fold if your hand is any lower than that. Always fold if your high card is a jack or lower, regardless of how good your other two cards are.

Your strategy should change if you can see one of the dealer’s cards. If the dealer’s card is an:

  • Ace: Only play with A/9/2.
  • King: Only play with K/9/2 or better.
  • Queen: Only play with Q/9/2 or better.
  • Jack or lower: In this case, you should make a play bet. Most likely, the dealer hand will be lower than yours or won’t qualify.

The best starting hands in three-card poker are:

  • A/K/Q
  • Three consecutive suited cards (such as K/Q/J or 7/8/9)
  • Three of a kind

Poker Rules, Odds, and Strategies

After reading this poker cheat sheet, hopefully, you have a better idea of the best hands to play in poker. But don’t let your journey end here! There’s still so much more to learn. Continue your education; soon enough, you’ll beat other players left and right.

Poker Rules

Poker has so many different rules that it’s tough to keep track of them all. The rules vary depending on whether you’re playing Texas Hold’em, seven-card stud, razz, Omaha, or one of the many other poker variants out there. Get a primer with my poker rules cheat sheet, and you’ll become a champ in no time.

Poker Odds

At its heart, poker is a game of odds. What are your odds of winning the pot? How many hands must you win to make a profit? How do the odds differ depending on whether you’re in the early, middle, or late position? Find answers to all your odds-related questions in my handy poker guide.

Poker Strategy

What poker player wouldn’t love to discover a treasure trove of secrets that’ll help them best even the toughest opponents? If that sounds good, check out my guide for poker winning strategies. You’ll learn tips that will prepare you to take on players of all skill levels.

Pro Player Tip – Bluffing and Reading Your Opponents

It may surprise you to know that poker is much more than just a card game. Instead, it’s a psychological battle of wits with other players. Once you’ve got the rules and hands down pat, thanks to this poker cheat sheet, you can employ advanced techniques, such as bluffing (pretending you’ve got a better hand than you really do).

Reading your opponents is an important skill to master, too. Nearly every player has “tells” or small mannerisms that they unconsciously exhibit during the game. By learning to recognize these tells with my quick poker tips, you can triumph over even the best players.

If you’re looking for gambling sites to play poker online, I’d suggest you take a look at our following pages where we’ve listed the best casinos in each category:

FAQs

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Johanna Gullberg

Johanna Gullberg

With over a decade of experience in the online casino industry, Johanna is a seasoned expert and passionate advocate in this field. Her role as Casino Editor at Tech Report is enriched by years of writing specialized iGaming content for several different markets. Johanna is an authoritative source for everything related to online casino gaming, providing insights on where and how to play. Her expertise ensures players have a comprehensive and well-informed gaming experience.