Playing Poker Hands from Middle Position

You have to be conservative when you’re close to the blinds, but when you’re four, five, or six seats from the blinds, you can loosen up a bit and play more hands. The table below lists the additional hands we believe are playable in middle position if no one has raised in front of you.

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In a loose game, you can play 10-10 from early position, so it’s no surprise you can play it in middle position. We cut of the playable middle-position pairs at 55, however, because a Five is the lowest card you can use to create the high end of a straight. In other words, if you have 5♥-5 and the board is A♠-2♦-3♣-4♥-9, you don’t have the best possible poker hand (a Six-high straight is the nuts) but you do have the high end of the straight.

Playable Hands in Late Position

Pairs Suited Cards Offsuit Cards
10-10 A9, A8, A7, A6 A-10
9-9 K-9 K-10
8-8 Q-9 Q-J, Q-10
7-7 J-9 J-10
6-6 10-9
5-5

You can play suited Aces with cards lower than a Ten in middle position because it’s less likely that your opponents will raise and force you to pay an extra small bet for a hand that needs to flop a flush draw or two pair to be worth anything. The fact that you’re on a draw from the start is also the reason why you don’t raise: You want more players to call so there will be a lot of money in the pot in case you hit your hand. Be prepared to fold A-6s a lot on the flop, though.

K-9s is a hand with which you can build a good flush or a straight if you can catch the three cards (T-J-Q) to fill it in, but what do you do if you catch a King on the flop and another player bets into you? Your Nine is a lousy kicker, particularly against players who called the flop from early position. Whether you give up the hand when you flop top pair with a lousy kicker is one of the big decisions in poker, online and otherwise. You’ll need to use your experience and observation of your opponents to make the best choice. Believe us, we’ll have a lot more to say about that type of situation in Chapter: The Flop and Fourth Street. The other hands in this group suffer from the same defects, so be ready to make a straight or move on to the next hand.

If you’re the first player in, you can raise with most of the suited or paired hands you’d play in early position, plus T-T and 9-9. We probably wouldn’t raise very often with K-Ts unless we thought we could get everyone to fold, but K-Qs is a very good raising hand when you open the betting from middle position.

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