I am not too good at memorizing stuff. Is there any starting hand set of rules or chart that is easy to remember?

A little bit of context:

  • No Limit Hold'em
  • the number of players is not really a parameter, since in any game one will go from 9 or 10 to (hopefully) 2 players
  • Usually weak opponents, since I am kind of a beginner

Further edit: what about the Chen formula? I discovered it after asking this question. I personally find it not too difficult to apply, is it good?

  • 2
    Are we sure we want to vote this for closing? There are, sadly, very few questions on poker.SE and this looks like a perfectly valid question: starting hand charts and "memo-technique" tricks to remember them may be a cool addition to the site. To me it's a +1 and not a vote for close. Also, at this point and seen the low trafic here I think downvote and vote for close should be commented... Apr 20, 2012 at 21:06
  • 3
    For what type of poker game? How many players? What type of players? Apr 20, 2012 at 21:52
  • Little bit of context: number of players matters
    – paparazzo
    Jan 17, 2016 at 14:51

4 Answers 4


This is a tiny little chart I made for a few friends who are very new to the game and often can't get their head around how much of a difference one or two pips can make!

Poker Odds based on 4 players

Reading the chart: If your hand is unsuited, match your hole cards in the lower left half of the table. If your hand is suited, match your hole cards in the upper right half of the table. If you have a pair, you're looking at the dividing line going diagonally.

Notes about the chart:

  • Anything that doesn't have a number, don't play.
  • Red => Yellow => Green // Worse => Better => Best
  • Odds are based off of a 4 person game (But the same guidelines apply to other games)
  • "Tighten up" or play less of the reds when there are more players and
  • "Loosen up" or play more of the reds when there are less players.

It's important that there is no "formula for winning". Just take some guidelines, practice practice practice, and you'll start to know when you can afford to play the "reds" and how hard you should be pushing those yellows.

  • gets a +1 from me a very good chart, easier to use and understand. good work.
    – user424
    Jul 17, 2012 at 14:17
  • 1
    So "all" I have to do is memorize 169 different positions, each of which can be one of roughly 4 values?
    – user1934
    Mar 10, 2016 at 18:15
  • what do the numbers in the boxes mean? aa=64 44=27 can someone explain? thanks! Jan 23, 2020 at 18:43

I have something that I call the Q-T-8 standard. Among starting hands, no unsuited hands where the lower card is lower than a Q (that is A-Q and K-Q only), no suited hands where the lower card is less than a ten (that is down to J-T), and no pairs lower than 8s.

  • It's a good thing to have something like that but the fact is that you only get hands that fit that criteria rarely. Apr 22, 2012 at 7:47
  • 1
    @SoboLAN: Those are "tight" requirements, but appropriate for "early" position (24 unsuited hands, 40 suited, and 42 pairs for a total of just over 100 out of 1326). As your position improves, you can loosen the requirements.
    – Tom Au
    Apr 22, 2012 at 12:59
  • But isn't 45s better than JTs against lots of opponents?
    – WW.
    May 3, 2012 at 9:32
  • @WW: 45s is the same TYPE of hand as JTs, (suited connectors), but a much lower hand of the same type. What is true is that 45s IMPROVES more (percentagewise) with more opponents. Because it is starting from a lower base.
    – Tom Au
    May 3, 2012 at 18:17
  • ^ It's very important to note that with suited connectors, the more people who fold the worse value your hand has. So don't go bet crazy! Jul 17, 2012 at 12:32

Having such a memorization mechanism that allows you to have a decent starting hand chart in your head is only going to help you in very very early stages of learning the game.

There are a lot of books and poker strategy websites where such charts can be found. I've noticed that those charts encourage you to play your hand if it's strong (medium to big pocket pairs, AK, AQ, KQ, even AJ). There are 2 main problems with this:

  • you get hands that fit that criteria rarely. Maybe 1 in 30 hands. Playing very few hands like this is a guaranteed loss because in tournaments for example blinds keep going up and they'll kill your stack very quickly.
  • if you only play those strong hands, you become extremely predictable. Your opponnents may just all fold preflop when they see you limp or raise instead of folding. They know you have a good hand, otherwise you wouldn't be playing it. You only win a few blinds and antes like this (which usually is not very much).

Like I said in the beginning: these starting hand charts are only good if you're completely new to the game and need to learn its very basic mechanics first. Once you know that, relying on those charts is extremely dangerous and unprofitable. You can't just wait for premium hands to show up (because they rarely do), you have to get your chips in the middle and be more aggressive with a wider range. On top of all this, poker is not so much about your hand, it's more about your opponent(s) hand(s) and his/their behaviour (but this is a completely new topic, outside of the scope of this answer).

If, after reading all this, you still want a memorization trick for this kind of thing, use Tom Au's answer, it's close enough.

  • down-voter, state your complaint. Apr 23, 2012 at 20:54
  • 3
    I think the point about tournaments is important. In both cash games and tournaments you starting hand selection and betting patterns should relate to the stack sizes, blind/ante structure, number of players at the table and your position at the table. More advanced strategies also adjust for the way the other players are playing, and their table positions relative to yours. You range playing heads-up at the end of a tournament has to be very different to your range playing 10-handed in a deep-stack cash game! Apr 24, 2012 at 9:34

http://pokerstrategy.com/ makes a lot of really good starting hands charts and learning stuff for newbies. I personally started my poker carrier there.(now playing 5.50$ HU SNG) All of these charts are made to help newbies crush microstakes easily.

As I searched for Chen formula, this strategy advice to openlimp in early position with some hands and dont care, if these hands play well postflop or not. That is not good strategy, especially at lower limits. You want to protect your stronger hands and don't want multiway pots. You also want to extract value from your stronger hands preflop from your loose opponents.

My ref link.(not sure if it is allowed, feel free to remove if so.) : http://cs.pokerstrategy.com/#u56DJM

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