Cash games pre-flop play

As you probably know, poker is a game of 4 betting rounds. There are two big ones – pre-flop and post-flop. Post-flop is divided in 3 smaller rounds – flop, turn and the river. It's possible to bet/check or fold on each of these. While all of these rounds are equally important, some of them link to other ones. The very first betting round and the foundation of everything in poker is pre-flop play. The way you play pre-flop will also greatly affect post-flop. To give an example, if you play trashy hands pre-flop, you are almost guaranteed to get into trouble post-flop. On the other hand, if you play only strong hands, the chance of getting into trouble is way smaller.

Another thing you need to keep in mind regarding post-flop is, that it always depends. Every spot and situation is unique and the decision you choose should be based on several factors. The first, most important one is player you are up against. You'll play a hand in a different fashion, if your opponent is a fish versus the time, when you'll be up against a good regular player. There are many other factors, which we'll go through a little bit later in this article.

So what starting hands should you play before the flop? Answer is the same again – it depends. However, now it will be a little more throughout, as it depends on your position! Position is everything in poker and most of the money you'll make will come from so called ''good positions''.

Below you'll find a good foundation of the hand ranges, you should be looking to play before the flop. Note that these will apply for cash-games, given you start the hand 100 big blinds deep. Play in tournaments is way different, as the stacks are more shallow.


UTG or Under The Gun, is the first position at the poker table. Thus it's also the worst one. You'll have no idea or information about the hand strength of your opponents, as you will have to act first. This is why you need to play only your strongest hands from this position.

A decent starting range from UTG would be 77+ , AQs+, AKo+ + and very occasionally you can mix in some speculative hands, such as JTs and 67s. If the table is loose and there are bad players, you can also add KQs . However, id advise not to do it too often, as you'll have a relatively small experience playing post-flop, in the beginning of your poker carer. This can get you into quite a bit of trouble.


MP or Middle Position is also considered to be an early and quite bad position at the poker table. While you'll have positional advantage over UTG, you'll still have no idea about other player hand strength. This will put you into a disadvantage versus them and can get you into some tough spots.
I'd advise to play 66+, AJs+, AQo+, KQs+ from the MP. Occasionally mix in some speculative hands the same way as for UTG.


CO or Cutoff is the first position, that is considered as stealing position. When on the CutOff, you can play a way wider range of hands, as the only one who'll have a positional advantage over you is the button. When on the CO, I'd advise to play the following hands 44+, ATs+, KJs+, KQo+ 56s+ , Jts+, you can also add many speculative hands depending on the players, who are on the blinds and the button.


BTN or Button is the best position at any poker table. When you are on the button, you hold a significant advantage over anyone else at your table – you have positions versus them. You can play a very wide range of hands on the button, as you'll always be able to control the pot post-flop.

I'd advise to play the following range: A5s+ Ato+ K7s+ Kto+ J7s+ Jto+ 22+ 34s+ 89o+

As with all the positions, your range depends on your opponents. If there's a maniac on the blind, who will give me headaches, I'll tighten my range. Alternatively, if there's a calling station – i'll play way more hands. The ones that have a chance to make a strong hand in several ways, specifically.


SB and BB are two worst positions at the poker table. You'll always be at a positional disadvantage post-flop and you are also forced to put money into the pot, even without seeing your cards! There are no players in the world, who are winning money from these positions longterm. However, good players know how to limit the loss.

As a player who is just starting out, play the same range as you do from UTG. You don't want to get into trouble here and this range is strong enough to defend your blinds. Obviously, take the position of the original raiser into account – defend lighter vs button than you do vs utg.

Once you get a better understanding and feel regarding how players play, you can also defend and 3bet with many speculative hands, such as JTs Be cautious for starters, though.