To begin with, I recommend playing only the top 10 hands and folding on all others. The top 10 are in order of relative promise: A-A, K-K, Q-Q, A-K, J-J, 10-10, 9-9, 8-8, A-Q and 7-7. Experience has shown me that these are the strongest starting hands in limit Hold ’Em. The beginning strategy for survival is designed to keep you in the game while you learn the more subtle techniques that are necessary to beat tougher games, or to extract more money from weak games. And, in some games, using just this strategy will make you a winner. With this patient strategy alone, and really not much else in the way of poker instruction, I was able to crush the games in Madison. What happens is, when you consistently play only the top 10 hands, your opponents will begin to fear your bets and raises because they’ll see that you’re always playing something powerful. This fear gives you some leeway to make a few different plays later, when you’ve absorbed the intermediate and more advanced advice I’ll be giving you later. In other words, the top-10-hands strategy teaches the right fundamentals. You will need these fundamentals when you add some intermediate and advanced strategy to your arsenal, because playing super tight alone won’t get the pots in these tougher games. The good hands don’t come along often enough, and perhaps even more important, you risk becoming a bit too predictable.