What Is the Right Play in Small Pocket Pairs? Č There are a lot of theories about how to play small pocket pairs. Some of them are good, some of them are bad, but most theories are wrong.
My theory is the best.
With hands like $55-$60 LQs, although they are very capable hands, I prefer to raise three to four times the big blind in position. I fold all other hands except maybe A8 as a matter of fact. Folded hands get no respect and it makes me think the blinds are on a string of hands; one of the hands will surely be my favorite.
With $60-$80, I like to open with a raise of three times the big blind or two times the big blind max. These are hands that will aggressively play a big pot heads up. Against any raising, re-raise with the best of it. There’s no need to call in this spot, it will be more profitable to play re-raise, then hope for a calling flop.
Let’s say you flop a set with a small pair. No problem! Stay aggressive, and once again, stay tight. Keep up the pressure on the table and an declare yourself as a aggressor.
Middle positions: I play pairs like 75s, J8s, and J4s in middle position. Again, the isolation is nice. You are up against maybe a jack or a full house. Not a problem. Throw in a raise of three times the big blind and you are looking at middle position.
Late positions: I throw anything other than these hands away, even high pocket pairs. There is no need to play tight in late positions. You have no need to put your opponent on a hand, especially not in the blinds. They are not taking any risks, so why take the risk? Keep playing your strong hands and you will win as well, if they don’t hit. This is the situation in which you want to be the aggressor. Look to raise not only preflop, but also on the flop.
Why is aggression important? Because it raises the question of hand strength for your opponent. They have to make a decision: either raise or fold. Raising doesn’t necessarily mean they have a better hand, it could also mean they don’t know what to do with a raise. Knowing what to do is the deciding factor on how much to bet. Therefore, if your opponent doesn’t raise with their hand, they have the option either to fold, or raise you, thereby representing a bigger pot.
When they call your raise, you can base your flop play on the fact that they called your raise preflop. Now, you are in early position, so you want to make a continuation bet. If your opponent doesn’t have a huge hand, they will likely call, seeing as they didn’t raise preflop. The fact that you bet means a bigger hand like a set already not likely. If they are making a push in late position, they may call with a wider range of hands.
It is also important to make your decision after seeing the flop. If you make the same decision as raised preflop, you will often lose a lot of money when your hand misses. Therefore, using implied odds, you can discount hand combinations that have a lower probability of hitting. Take out implied odds when necessary in your decision making process.
Playing hands that have higher probability of hitting is clearly the more profitable play. When you start to play tight, you are unlikely to steal many pots. The times you steal the blind will be of little benefit as they are essentially playing even hands. Therefore, when playing quality hands you want to get paid off, or as close to it as possible. Play hands that have a chance of hitting the flop, and you will not often need to call much in the later stages of the game.
Be careful to watch for traps. Trips to the straight and flush are common in later stages when there are only four or five people in the table. Players often start pushing small pairs and other hands they currently have no control over. Don’t get caught in overvaluation. Play quality hands aggressively; put your opponent on a hand when you have a strong hand. As the caller, you want to maximize the pot. Therefore, when you have a solid hand play against opponents who are limping into the pot, or calling raises from middle position. These opponents are likely to have a quality hand and will want to exploit it.
Play aggressively, but be careful to avoid going on tilt. Looking for reasons to get out of the hand is always a bad idea. If you are not in the hand, and your finances are not at risk, do not convince yourself to play. KartuPoker has a lot to do with psychology.