Preflop Hand Categories

Preflop hand categories

In Texas Hold’em, understanding preflop hand categories is essential for beginners, as it sets the stage for the rest of the hand. Preflop, the first round of betting, happens before the first three community cards (the flop) are dealt. Knowing how to categorize hands helps when learning preflop ranges.

Preflop hand categories are based on hand strength which comes from the ability to:

  • Make good pairs
  • Flop good draws
  • Flop sets

Hands are classified into these categories:

  • Great
  • Good
  • Okay
  • The rest


The highest paired cards and the highest connected cards. You can often re-raise and defend re-raises preflop with hands like these:

These hands can make very strong pairs, flop very strong draws and the top sets.


These hands provide solid playability and do well in many situations:

  • Medium pairs, like:
  • Suited connectors, like:
  • Suited aces, like:
  • Suited kings, like:
  • High cards, like:


  • Low pairs, like:
  • Suited queens, like:
  • Suited jacks, like:
  • Hands with ace, like:
  • Suited gappers, like:

The rest

  • Mostly trash that should not be played:
  • Hands that can be played sometimes:

Hands can shift a bit in value in some situations. The value of suited connectors and smaller pocket pairs increase when:

  • Several players are involved
  • Stacks are deep

Understanding these categories will help you make informed decisions preflop. Note that your position at the table, the actions of other players, and your stack size will influence how you should approach each hand. With time and experience, you’ll begin to recognize patterns and gain an intuitive sense of when to play, raise, call, or fold.

It is challenging to memorize all the different preflop charts just by looking at them. It is also hard to know if your memory is correct. We strongly recommend practicing preflop ranges in the preflop exercise to help you commit them to memory and get feedback on mistakes.

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