Pocket pairs in a game of poker always excite you. You call two hole cards a pocket pair when they are of the same rank. For instance, two Aces or two 3s. You have a pocket pair.
Of course, the significance of pocket pairs varies as per their rankings and you need to play them with wisdom. There are a few important factors that you must keep in mind when you play pocket pairs in different situations. Play them right and you can be certain to have the pot.
Small Pocket Pairs
The accepted by-the-book way of playing small pocket pairs in No Limit Hold’em is to play them cheaply from late position and continue only if you flop a set or trips (three of a kind), however, I’d would like to give my two-cents about these potentially valuable holdings in this strategy article.
For the sake of clarity, let’s call small pocket pairs 2-7s as the same general rules can apply to all of them. With any of these pairs, you will face an overcard on the flop more often than not and they are usually extremely vulnerable unless they improve.
Thus, your goal should still be to spike that set (hit a third of your pocket pair) on the flop. With that in mind let’s explore some tips for making these hands as profitable as possible in online games.
While these nuances apply for all online games, they are especially true for the games on Pokerbaazi.com since I have played exclusively on the site for over a year.
Stack Size Consideration
One of the most important but underrated pre-requisites for playing small pocket pairs is depth in stack sizes, because when you flop that elusive set, you are hardly going to be satisfied with anything less than a 50bb pot.
In a 50/100 game, playing pocket deuces from the button makes more sense if you and the other limpers have 15-20k rather than 2-5k.
If you or your opponents have fairly small stacks, it isn’t a great play to invest a good portion of your remaining chips looking to hit a set on the flop. However, keep in mind that if the stacks are deep (100 big blinds or more), small pocket pairs become more playable. You can invest a small amount to potentially win a massive pot.
Importance of Position with Small Pocket Pairs
Position is paramount in No-limit hold’em more so than any other form of poker and is one of the key aspects to determine if and how you are going to proceed with a particular holding. This is no different for small pocket pairs which increase in value significantly as you get closer to the button.
Getting to act last, knowing how much you need to invest, getting a feel for your opponent’s hand strength coupled with getting to build bigger pots with more ease is a much more enticing prospect than the alternative.
You don’t want to end up in an unwelcome situation when you get raised and face paying more than you wanted only to act out of position on the flop. While this may sound like Hold’em 101, don’t overlook this important concept when playing these mini pairs.
In an aggressive game, especially with the heated and continuous action on Pokerbaazi, routinely limping in with such hands in early position is a mistake.
Hands You Want to be Up Against
While the old poker adage may advise you to flop a set cheaply with a small pocket pair at all costs, limp pots will probably earn you the least return when you hit your set.
With pocket fives in a deep 50/100 game, I think that is wrong to think, “Well, he was under-the-gun and he made it 400, he probably has Aces or Kings so I better fold.” In fact, you should want to be up against a big pocket pair when you have a small pocket pair. Why? If you flop a set, you’re likely going to take all of your opponent’s chips.
The odds of hitting a set on the flop with a pocket pair are roughly 7.5 to 1 against (about 12% or once in eight times), but if the table has deep stacks and you double up 12% of the time you call a reasonable open every time, it’s a no-brainer +EV decision.
Let’s assume that your under-the-gun (first to act pre-flop) opponent has pocket Aces and raises it to 400 preflop. Let’s also assume that he’s willing to put all his chips in on just about every flop (a reasonable assumption for low-stakes online games especially on PokerBaazi).
You both had 15k and you’ve folded on the flop 7 times for a current stack of 2800. The 8th time, you hit the set and double up to 24.4k. In the short run, you may hit the set in less or more tries, but in the long run, this scenario is still massively profitable.
I hope that I have given you some useful tips for making some profitable decisions preflop. To sum it up, I think that tight strategy book advice isn’t always the most profitable for loose online games nowadays and you should be looking to adapt your small pair poker strategy according to the table dynamics and as a general rule be willing to invest up to 10% of your stack against volatile opponents.
Situations like passive games and opponents who over-commit to big hands can make it possible to play any pocket pair for raises and at times 3-bets. However, these are also the type of hands that require extreme discipline and if you do not yet have the discipline to easily lay down your small pair on a tricky flop you’re probably better off sticking to those premium starting hands. Slowly work your way down to the smaller pairs once you get better!
Good luck at the tables and keep flopping sets, it never hurts!