Learning which hands to fold in poker is crucial to long term success. When you are first learning to play poker you should stick to playing premium hands pre-flop. If you are unsure of which hands to play then check out our 'Which Cards To Play' page.
Nearly all new poker players play far too many hands. You must learn to pick and choose your hands and remember that when you fold pre-flop it doesn't cost you any money! Many new players are too impatient and try to force average hands instead of waiting for great hands.
By only playing the good starting hands like K/K, A/K, A/A, Q/Q the other players at the table will give you credit for being a solid steady player. You can use your tight table image to bluff a few hands in the later stages of the game.
Never be afraid to fold, don't think of folding as losing. When folding you are in fact saving your chips to fight another day. You only lose in poker when someone wins all your money and by folding correctly you are minimizing the chances of that ever happening.
The most important folding decision is made pre-flop. You are dealt two cards and you must decide to play or fold. Lets imagine you are playing in an average internet poker game with 8 other people. It's a low limit Texas Hold'em table and the game has just started. The cards are dealt and you pick up a 10 / Q. Three players call the action and you are thinking that 10 / Q ain' t so bad.
You call and throw your £0.50 into the pot and then the last player to act raises it to £1.00 and you think that's it's going to be too expensive to see a flop at that price so you fold and lose your £0.50. You should've saved yourself the bother and folded straight away. Let's put it this way - if you are not prepared to match a raise further on in the hand then don't play the cards at all.
That's not to say that this hand can never be played because there are circumstances in which you could play it. If you are on the big blind then why not play it? you have already paid the blinds and if you can see the flop without adding anymore money into the pot then go for it. You could get lucky and flop two pair, trips queens and maybe even a straight.
You can also play poor hands like this when the game is down to the last few players. 10 / Q becomes a better hand when you only have three people at the table rather then when you have 8 people.
Your pre-flop fold choices are going to be the difference between winning and losing. Why risk money on marginal hands when you can save your cash and use it to real effect when you have a great hand.
The poker legend Chris Ferguson said that players have two choices pre-flop, you can either 'Pump it or Dump It' if a hand isn't good enough to raise with then it should be folded.