Learn The Secrets Of Playing Pocket Pairs
When being dealt your two hole cards in Texas Hold'em the most valuable starting hands to hope for would be pocket pairs as you have already formed a hand without placing a single bet. However, pocket pairs are misplayed more than other starting hand and often lead to the downfall of inexperienced players.
There are thirteen different pocket pairs and there is a big difference between 2-2 and A-A and you need to know what to do with each type of pair so that you can get the most out of your starting hand.
Pocket pairs are identified as being small pairs (2-2 to 5-5), middle pairs (6-6 to 8-8), danger pairs (9-9 to 10-10) and of course high pairs (J-J to A-A).
The worst play is to call an all-in when you are holding a small or middle pair. Remember this statistic, if a player has gone all-in and you have a lower pair, then you have only a 20% chance of winning, why would you place yourself in this position? You only have one way of winning when your opponent has called all-in, to have the best hand.
Small Pairs 2-2 t0 5-5
The best and most obvious way to play small pairs is to try to see the flop as cheaply as possible and hope that the flop is generous and that you make three of a kind straight away. If you are in a late position then it may be worthwhile trying to take the pot by posting a raise, but the cheaper the better.
When playing with small pairs it is important to remember that the chances of pocket pairs becoming three of a kind on the flop is only 12%. It is unlikely that a small pair will remain the strongest hand for long, particularly with three or more players.
If you decide to always play small pairs, even when the betting is big, then of course you will see some very good wins. The statistics show however that this tactic will end up costing you chips in the long run. Do not be afraid of letting a small pair go if the betting and raising gets too heavy.
Middle Pairs 6-6 to 8-8
Middle pairs, although being stronger than small pairs, are still not particularly strong and as such much of what was said about small pairs is true for middle pairs.
Middle pairs are susceptible to over cards, particularly if more than one opponent remains in the pot and it is often the case that your hand will need to improve if it is to remain the highest hand in the showdown. With two other players remaining with four possible over cards in play then the odds of a middle pair being the strongest hand is well under 40% after the flop.
In most cases it is best practice to tread carefully and try to get into the betting as cheaply as possible, or try to take the pot straight away with a cautious raise.
Danger Pairs 9-9 to 10-10
Although these hands are clearly stronger than small and middle pairs they are often given more weight than they deserve and new players often over play and bet too hard on them, hence their name.
Although the stand more chance of success in being the strongest hand in a two player showdown they are always in danger against players that play an Ace and a picture card. a quick statistic, a 9-8 against an A-K will only be 45%-55% favourite, this decreases if the opponents cards are suited.
Danger cards should obviously be played more aggressively than small and middle pairs but be careful, if a player is still ready to play after the flop then you really should consider folding. Remember, never be afraid to be cautious, it is better to take a small loss and live to fight again than lose everything.
High Pairs J-J
Finding a pair fo picture pocket pairs is every poker players dream and it's a great feeling to know that you are already in a powerful position. J-J is a tricky starting hand however and knowing what to do with them is crucial.
Like all high pairs, J-J plays best against a narrow field, ideally one opponent and of course you must raise. You must remember however that J-J is not unbeatable and you are still susceptible to over cards, If for example you find yourself up against two players that possess between all three over cards i.e. Ace, King and Queen then your chances of being the strongest hand after the flop is only 50%.
Too many players forget that J-J is beatable and stubbornly continue betting regardless of this, only to find themselves wiped out. If the flop deals any other high card then you need to adjust your betting to avoid an early and significant dent in your bankroll.
High Pairs Q-Q
When lucky enough to be dealt Q-Q you really should raise the betting or get into the action off the back of another players raise. It is important to narrow the betting as if you fail to make three of a kind off the flop then you are in danger of losing to several kinds of hands.
It is safe to assume that should you continue to have opposition after an Ace or Kind have been dealt that you are no-longer the strongest hand. Should this happen you should not make the mistake of pursuing the betting unless you are certain that your opponents are bluffing. Too many players simply refuse to let go of the third best hand in poker, to their detriment.
Assuming the flop deals out three under cards, in this instance you have to raise to find out where you are. When in this position do not slow play unless you have hit your three of a kind or these is a possibility of a straight. Should you get re-raised you need to consider what your opponents may have and act accordingly i.e. has somebody made three of a kind or are they chasing a straight.
High Pair K-K
A pair of kings is a very strong starting hand and should be played aggressively at all times. Although still beatable by A-A there is only a one in twenty five chance of player holding A-A at a 10 player table so the odds are well in your favour!
Once you have narrowed the field with your aggressive betting you should bear in mind that an Ace will be drawn on the flop 25% of the time and that many players will stubbornly hold onto an Ace. If an Ace is drawn on the flop and there is no reason to doubt that your opponent is now holding a pair of Aces, do not let pride stop you from throwing out the pairs of kings.
Pocket Kings is a very strong hand and has to be played aggressively and sensibly, a good poker player should be able to turn this hand into a great money-maker.
High Pairs A-A
There is no better feeling knowing that you have just seen Pocket Rockets as your starting hand, that nobody else at the table has a better starting hand than you, and that you do not have to worry about over cards.
However, this hand can be quite tricky to play when deciding on how to maximise your earning. You want players to continue betting so that you get more reward, but equally, slow playing is a dicey tactic when facing more than one opponent as the more people you allow into the flop the less chance your hand has of winning.
Whatever happens you cannot become too confident with A-A, do not forget that they are only two cards and the game is to make the strongest five card hand our of seven. Do not forget that it is difficult for Pocket Aces to improve, there are only two other Aces in the pack and you need to hit an exact four cards to make a straight.
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