Love them or hate them pocket pairs must be played. Texas Hold’em is a simple game. The best starting hand is pocket aces and the worst is deuce seven off suit.
Why should I play pocket pairs?
Simply put, pocket pairs win money. Every player should know how to play aces, but most do not know how to get the full value. Some players like to “slow roll” or “limp” aces. By slow playing aces I mean that one does not raise with aces but simply calls hoping to get raised or allow other players believe they have the best hand. However, I do not recommend this play online because many players are very aggressive and loose and will call almost any bet pre-flop. A raise three or four times the big blind should get rid of most bad hands and prevent a loose player from out drawing the aces. A recap, play aces for a raise three or four times the big blind; if your hand improves check and hope your opponent also improves.
How to play middle pocket pairs
It is significantly harder to play a middle pocket pair like eights or nines. In this case base all of your decisions on your table. If you are in an early position hope to get in cheap and attempt to set your pocket pair. In a later position think about raising especially if you are near the button. Your opposition will think that you are trying to pick up blinds and call your bet. If the flop comes large ( Ace, queen, four) consider throwing away your hand because it is likely that your opponent called with a weak ace. If the flop comes low (three, five, jack) your eights or nines are in good shape. With only one over card on the board second pair is usually best. If your pocket pair is top pair play it sneaky. By that I mean bet and raise your opponents.
Setting your pocket pairs – Check your set.
With a set there are only two things you must fear the straight and the flush. Checking your set will make other players at your table believe that you have missed the flop. When and if they raise you call, but do not raise. Just calling is a sometimes called a amateur play, but it does not give your opponent any information on what you may have. Continue to call his bets until the river unless it is apparent that he or she may be on a drawing hand. If that is the case make a large raise, making them pay a large amount to see the next card. If you have the nuts on the river make a value bet or raise. Getting value out of your bet is important. To big of a bet may scare the other player away so it is important to bet a value that will be called. He will be pot committed by this point so for example a $2 bet on a $8 pot will most likely get a call and good value out of your set.
How to play low pocket pairs
The low pocket pair is easy to play. Try to get in cheap. If you miss the flop fold. If you hit, check. In a short handed or tournament situation trying to get into a race, or coin flip is sometimes a good option. The trouble with that is if your opponent has a higher pocket pair you are an 80% underdog and have two “outs” before the flop.
Good Luck and in playing your pocket pairs and I will see you at the tables.