View Full Version : Hellmuth's Top Ten Hands

01-27-2004, 10:12 PM
I am sure that everyone is away of Phil Hellmuths top ten hands but if you're not they are


so, I guess that is 12 hands....

well, I think that in a sit an go tourney this is a great way to play. I have heard so much criticism about his book and his philosophy, but in a sit and go tourney to use this beginners strategy until there is 3 of you left is perfect. Raise and reraise your best hands and really punish the people trying to win with mediocre hands.

Also in your blinds or on the button, use a few suited connectors to mix up your play a bit.

I think that when you make it into the money then you start using his majority play hands. Ace anything is a great blind stealer, and the small pairs are really valuable because you are usually heads up after the flop and a small pair holds a lot of value. So I think with a combination of these two methods, is a perfect way to play sit and go's.

I have played in 5-$10 and 8-$20 sit and go's and I have placed in the money in 9 of them using this strategy alone with 3 first place, 2 seconds and 4 third. With a net winnings of $229.

I want to know peoples thoughts on these strategies with regards to sit and go's.


01-27-2004, 10:54 PM
You have a very small sample size to work with there, and if you're getting these hands often enough (and winning with them) right now then you are bound to do well. However, there will be times when you get AA in the big blind and it folds around to you. There will be times when KK gets called by AA. And there will be times when you go 30, 40, 50 (how high should I go) hands without so much as one pocket pair, AK or AQ.

Also, if you are playing with observant players, they will pick up on your tendency to play big hands and steal on you. And when you reraise...they'll fold.

To make a long story short...poker is a situational game. In SnGs (and multis and ring games) you have to play the players and the cards. Of course, this is easier when you have the cards /images/graemlins/smirk.gif.

01-27-2004, 11:21 PM
Hi Yesterday,

In general, this will work okay at the lower buy-ins, as your opponents will pay off your big hands. At the higher buy-ins, it won't be as successful, because they'll mark you as an ultra-tight player and get out of your pots, so you'll only get a payoff when you hit a big hand against a big hand.


01-28-2004, 02:22 AM
About 6 months ago I actually tried Hellmuth's advice to limit players on the net and that is to use his top ten hand stradegy and nothing esle, I played 1/2 limit two tables at once and didnt make any money at all useing it!Your mouse will get cobwebs on it while you wait for a hand, Maybe I should of tried 3 or 4 tables at once....

01-28-2004, 03:35 AM
If you wanted to lose 3 or 4 times more quickly, that would be a great idea.

Oh yeah, and his advice of raising on every flop "to know where you're at" is just as bad, if not worse. Ok, it's worse.


01-28-2004, 04:25 AM
I think Hellmuth's top ten strategy can be very effective, but only under the right conditions and a sng is probably not the best place.

Most low limit sngs (on party anyways) have already been narrowed down to the final 3 by 55-70 hands. By playing only those hands, it is entirely possible to never get one in that time. A more likely outcome, but equally bad is that you may get those cards two or three times and not have them work out.

With such a small number of hands played, you need to be involved more often than that.

I would, however, recommend his top ten hands strategy for use in small stakes NL ring games. I also think it is important to understand the difference between Phil Hellmuth's Top ten and most other authors top ten.

Phil says AA-77,AK & AQ (suited or not)
Most others say AA-TT, AKs,AK,AQs,AJs,KQs

Some other authors, in fact, rank hands like 77 as far down as 25th or even worse. So what gives? Who is right?

Well, they both are. The difference is that Phil's top ten are based on heads up expectation while the other list is from ten player expectation. What this means to you is that your style of play and the type of game you are in goes a long way towards determining what is actually correct.

In a small stakes Limit game, Hellmuth's top ten is a poor way to go. In a tight/agressive NL game, his top ten can be effective. This is because it tends to actually get heads up more often, and a lot sooner. If the tourneys you play are limit or get a lot of players limping before the flop, you would be ill advised to pass on hands like AJs, KQs, and other high suited connectors.

The most valuable thing about Hellmuth's top ten strategy is not it's money-making potential anyways. It is valuable because it will enable a beginning player to survive longer while learning to play a small selection of hands agressively. I think this is great if your goal is to go from a total beginner to a break even player. I suspect we all want more than that sooner or later.

It's still not a terrible idea to play methodically in small buy-in sngs, but I'd play differently than he suggests. If nothing else, just add all suited cards ten and above to your list and play all pocket pairs if you can get in for one bet. I'd also slow down a bit with hands like 77-99 in early positions.

Brad S

01-28-2004, 05:08 AM
Actually, in the first rounds of a party sng, I won't even play AQ, although I will play all pairs and suited connectors in late position. AQ is a nice hand to lose all your chips with in the first round against the all in crazies.
Later on I will play far more hands-the same is true early if the table is reasonably tight, and raising has a chance to take the blinds or get it heads up.

01-28-2004, 09:51 AM
thanks for the advice.

One thing that I want to clear up isn't about the post flop play because his raise to see where your at in a sit n go is a killer I would think.

I was kind of just referring to the preflop play.

Being tight and waiting for a great hand early is good, then the anxious people get eaten up and usually one or two guys have most of the chips and sometimes that will be me if I have hit a hand early. But if not then my job is to tap into the big stacks of the others.

I like the strategy of using pairs, even small pairs late to really pressure the blinds or anyone for that fact, is a strong way to play. Sure if your called and they come out betting then you have to put a read on them. But i think that you can be successful playing ultra-tight and wait for a hand. I have never had it in my limited time where I just couldn't get a hand throughout. Sure there are times when you get ancy and want action, but i like to wait until there is 4-5 of you and then start pressuring the blinds of some other mid-stacked players.


01-28-2004, 11:02 AM
There are two schools of thought (of which I employ both depending upon the table) about early SNG play. There is a thread right now about playing loose early, and there are some who advocate for extremely tight early play. Which should you use? Again, the answer is...it depends.

I will usually watch the first few hands to try and get a bead on the tenor of the table. If I see few raises, I will try limping with suited connectors, low pocket pairs, and Ax suited. The reason being, is that if the table is generally passive with limps and minibets after the flop, I will often try to limp in and grab a monster early and double up or at least grab a few chips. If I don't hit the flop big, then I run away if someone bets enough to push me away from my draw. If the table seems very loose-aggressive, then I go back in my shell, let the "rabbits" (good CrisBrown term) gobble each other up, and wait for my spot to spring a big hand on them, and wait for the blinds to go up a bit before trying to steal with those kinds of hands.