Understanding Typical Preflop Opening Ranges

Starting hand selection is one of the first areas new poker players focus on, and rightly so. Poor starting hand selection falls into two camps: playing too loose or playing too tight. Most poker players know that they should play tighter when in early position and loosen up as they get closer to the button. However, it is common for players to play too loose at the start of position and much too tight on the button.

Position is power

No-Limit Texas Hold’em is a game played with incomplete information because players’ hole cards remain secret until showdown. The closer you sit to the button, the stronger your position because you can see how other players act before making your decision. Plus, the closer you are to the button, the fewer opponents you’ll have to worry about if the action backfires. These two concepts mean you can play a wider range of hands in late position.

In this article we will look at the starting hand ranges for a No-Limit Texas Hold’em online poker tournament, which is played on an eight-handed table, where the stacks are 100 big blinds and you enter. for an increase. The hands you can and should play will probably surprise you.

Keep in mind that ranges can be fluid and should be adjusted based on your opponents’ tendencies. For example, you may want to drop some hands from the bottom of your range into early position if you have a particularly aggressive opponent who continually re-raises.

Early position

You should play relatively tight from the start for the reasons mentioned above. Strong hands or those with the potential to make big hands are the order of the day.

A typical hand range in early stance looks like this:

44+, T9s+, J9s+, QTs+ K8s+, A3s+, KQo+, AJo+

That looks like a lot of hands; this represents approximately 16% of all possible starting hands. Although this list seems like a weird formula, it is easy to understand. For example, A3s+ means opening with a raise with a suited ace-three or better, while KQo+ means raising with an unsuited and stronger king-queen.

By having an early position opening range like this, you’ll keep your opponents guessing while not taking too much risk of playing like a crazy horse.

Middle position

Your opening range from mid position isn’t entirely different from your early position hands because you still have most of the table to contend with. A typical opening range in middle position consists of about 19% of starting hands and looks a lot like this:

44+, 98s+, T8s+, Q9s+, K7s+, A2s+, KQo+, ATo+

You can also vary your play by occasionally raising first with hands like QJo and KJo.

The Lowjack

As we get closer to the button, our aperture ranges widen. We are now in the lowjack, which is still in the middle position but three places to the left of the button. A good lowjack opening raise consists of the following hands, which make up about 22% of all hands:

33+, 65s+, T8s+, J8s+, Q9s+, K5s+, A2s+, QJo+, KJo+, ATo+


The siege just before the cut is known as the hijack because you have the ability to hijack the cut and attempts to steal the button. We should be playing about 27-28% of hands for a raise when we start acting in the diversion, which looks a lot like:

22+, 54s+, 86s+, T7s+, J8s+, Q7s+, K4s+, A2s+, JTo+, QTo+, KTo+, A9o+

The cut

Once you’re first to act and sitting in the cutoff, things start to get interesting. Here we should open with a raise with more than 35% of the hands dealt to us because we have a position advantage. Find out what such hand rage is:

22+, 54s+, 75s+, 96s+, T6s+, J6s+, Q4s+, K2s+, A2s+, T9o+, QTo+, K9o+, A5o+

That’s a lot of hands, and you might feel uncomfortable playing suited jack-six, but your nerves will diminish over time.

The button

Everyone knows to play loose on the button when everyone has folded, but did you know that the optimal opening range from the button with 100 big blind stacks contains more than half of the hands of possible start in Hold’em? You need to be relentless from the button when you first act, playing the following range:

22+, 43s+, 53s+, 74s+, 85s+, 95s+, T3s+, J2s+, Q2s+, K2s+, A2s+, 87o+, T8o+, J8o+, Q8o+, K5o+, A2o+


The opening ranges presented in this article are not set in stone, but give you an idea of ​​which hands you should raise first in a typical No-Limit Hold’em tournament where everyone has 100 big stacks of blinds. They aren’t much different either, even up to 40 big blinds.

Playing that many hands from the button seems absurd, but that’s what equity calculators suggest based on behind-the-scenes applied mathematics. Obviously, if you’re on the button and the small or big blind 3-bets frequently, you might want to stop attacking it with a suited ten-four!

You will notice that we have neglected to discuss the game from the blinds. This is intentional, as blind versus blind play is complex, requiring a dedicated article that will be available soon on the PartyPoker blog.

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