When a game of Hold'em Poker begins, you'll be dealt 2 cards to start with. The starting hand will fall into one of the following categories: pairs, suited connectors (such as Jack and Queen of hearts, or 6 and 7 of clubs), connecting cards (like 10 of diamonds and 9 of spades), suited unconnected cards, or non-suited unconnected cards. It's important to understand how they rank in terms of the potential, because that's what should influence your decision on whether to hold'em or fold them.
Top 2: AA and KK
Getting two Aces or two Kings is the best one can hope for. It doesn't happen all that often (only about once in 110 hands) and does not necessarily guarantee that you'll win. Wrong community cards can destroy even the best starting hands, like when you play your King duo and a community Ace makes you lose to an opponent holding another one.
The Next Best Thing: QQ and JJ
The lower you go, the more vulnerable you'll get, and while Queens and Jacks will be beaten by those two above, they still give you the upper hand on 10s and below – which is quite a few cards you can outperform.
The Disputed Third: Ace-King
Not everybody agrees on how attractive this starting hand is, probably because the flop has to work with you in order to make it work. Hopefully it delivers at least another Ace or King to form a high-value pair, and if the two are suited, you can even hope for a Flush or a Straight.
When to Fold
While one should also be content to start off with a pair of 10s, or an AK, AQ, AJ or KQ combo, there are a few hands with a definite fold potential. You'll have guessed the worst belong to the group of non-suited unconnected cards, and even suited cards with a large gap in between. For example, a 2 paired with a 7, or a 3 paired with an 8, doesn't exactly raise hopes. They're low cards and could, with tons of luck, produce a low pair, and being so far apart doesn't give you even a theoretical chance to score a Straight.
Two non-suited and not connected cards, such as 4 of hearts and 7 of spades, are just as bad and will rarely win. While an Ace with an unsuited low card is not as hopeless, you'd be taking high risk by relying on a single high card. Beginners often seem reluctant to part with a face card, even when married to a low card such as a 3 or a 4. Pictures make them feel too valuable to toss, but beware: most of these hands will lose and likely contribute to an earlier departure than originally planned.