Changes in the second edition

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I've made some pretty substantial changes in the starting hand requirements for the second edition. These reflect my playing experience over the past six years, and, perhaps more important-ly, input from some extremely good hold'em players . In particular, I've learned a lot about starting hand requirements from o

Abdul Jalib , who has done excellent simulations with Bob Wilson's Turbo Texas Hold'em software.

6To the best of my knowledge, Mike Caro publicly coined this term. 71 won't name them all here. They know who they are and don't need the publicity.

8At this writing (summer of 2000), Abdul's musings on poker can be found at Not everybody agrees with this "simple desert nomad," but I find the rationale and logic of many of his arguments compelling.

But it's important to understand that this set of starting hand requirements is just a beginning. Honestly, I don't believe it matters much whether you follow this set of starting hands, Sklansky and Malmuth, Krieger, or any other intelligent poker writer. The areas in which the various writers disagree probably account for a tiny fraction of your results, either way. For instance, I don't think it will affect your long-term results a great deal if you do or don't play QTs for a single bet in moderately early position. Of course, in the short term, you might flop a costly second-best hand with it, or turn a monster-crushing straight flush, but over the course of your poker career, I doubt you'd be able to tell financially whether you played it three from the big blind or not. On the other hand, if you choose to play J6o there, or don't routinely get a lot of money in the pot with KK in that position, your results will suffer dramatically.

Also, game conditions can dramatically affect what you should play where. If a good hold'em player is asked, "Can you play AJo in early position?" the answer will be, "It depends." On how well his opponents play, how tight they are, what the current texture of the game is, his table image, and so on.

So, treat all of starting hand information as guidelines and not gospel. If in doubt, fold — another hand will be along shortly, and you may well be avoiding an expensive mistake.

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