10 Best Opening Hands for Texas Hold ‘Em

You have your place at the gaming table. The blinds have been fixed, the fingers of Rye poured, and you are eyeing up your opponents. First deal. First hand. You turn up the corners and take a peek at your two cards. Don’t let any emotion show… you’ve got one of these top ten opening hands!

1. Ace-Ace

The best you can get for starters in Hold ‘Em.  A pair of Aces-pocket rockets is the best starting hand for Texas Hold ‘Em. If they are diamonds and hearts, you have American Airlines, if they are spades and clubs you have Joe Louis (two black eyes).

2. King-King

Second on the list is a pair of kings, also known as cowboys or King Kong. If you are playing in England, particularly up North, you are likely to hear that you have “Kevin Keegans” after a famous 70s and 80s English League footballer with a dodgy mullet (hair style). Pessimists also know this hand as an Ace Magnet, because Aces are not what you want to see played after this!


3. Queen-Queen

A pair of queens sits in third place.  Known as Ladies. There are less pleasant references that we will not go into in any depth here, such as San Francisco Wedding. In the US, they’re commonly called Canadian Rockets because of the Canadians’ (alleged) love of the Queen of England!

Sometimes also known as “Hiltons” after the two blonde celebrity sisters Nicky and Paris Hilton.

4. Ace-King (suited)

No it’s not a pair of Jacks in fourth place. Arguably. This gives you high suited cards, and a shot at a straight, a flush, high pairs etc. Just a lot more opportunities here than a pair of Jacks. Known as Big Slick (can lose a lot here if you bet big and it all goes pear-shaped) and Kalashnikov, after the inventor of the infamous AK-47 (AK=Ace King).

5. Ace-Queen (suited)

Known as big chick or little slick, the nicknames given to a pocket ace-queen.  A little slick can be dangerous. It can make a flush. If an ace comes on the board without a Queen a player would then have a pair of aces- but there is a lot of ifs…

6. Jack-Jack

A pair of jacks — also known as fishhooks is not a bad opener for Hold ‘em. If you’ve got hearts and spades, they are known as one-eyed Jacks. Also Jay-birds. Strangely, there is a feeling among some superstitious Poker players that any hand with Jacks in there is a little bit cursed, and they may bet more conservatively. Yet statistics show this not to be true- two jacks in your starting hand is better than twin tens.

7. King-Queen (suited)

A suited royal couple, king-queen, is next in the list of Texas Hold ‘Em Poker’s most powerful starting hands. No good if off-suit (known as a mixed marriage!). If hearts are the suit, they are known as Valentines.

8. Ace-Jack (suited)

Nicknamed “blackjack” for obvious reasons.  It was known for a time in England as Ajax, after a well-known proprietary floor and sink cleaner. Also AppleJacks and Jack-Ass.








9. Ace-King (off suit)


Not a bad starting hand, one with possibilities- but don’t go mad!

In some places known as Anna Kournikova. Looks good but never wins!




10. 10-10


Here are dimes- a pair of 10s. Others would go for a Jack and King suited- but that’s the false lure of the court cards in my book. This is the last possible opening hand that I wouldn’t fold on! But if I am playing you online- I hope you forget that!

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