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Playing Pocket Pairs - Texas Holdem Poker


Hearts Spades Clubs Diamonds

Pocket Pairs

Pocket Pairs - Are some of the best starting hands in  Texas Holdem . Below poker hands are shown form strongest to weakest in order of decreasing rankings.  Also shown are common nicknames, Expected Value or EV (playing poker hands with a positive EV is statistically one of the best ways to succeed in poker so if your mucking 22, 33, and 44 a fair amount over the long term that is the correct way to play them), Playable positions / strategy tips, and warnings that the board may present to you  - when to be careful and that you may not be in the lead or even drawing dead.

Hot Poker TipA great tell is if you bet large when you are strong and small when you are weak - or the reverse - a slow player.  Use this tell, especially playing online poker to beat the weaker players.

 

Big Pairs

Big Pairs are the best starting hands in Texas Holdem.  They are strongest heads up so raising to narrow the field is often the best option.   AA and KK are good hands to call an all in bet pre-flop but caution is advised for QQ and JJ.  If their is more than one player all-in, it is likely best to fold all but AA and KK.  

Pocket Aces

ASpade AClub

Playing Pocket Aces - American Airlines, Pocket Rockets or Bullets are the best starting hand in poker.

EV= 2.32

Playable in any position - Call any raise re-raise, occasionally limp or flat call so you don't become predictable. Remember pocket pairs are not the best drawing hands and are most often beaten by multiple players when you slow play too much on the flop and turn.  If you are in the lead it is often best to lead out and bet the flop no matter what hits.

Warnings (play with caution) - possible straights, flushes, the board is paired

 

 

Pocket Kings

KDiamond KHeart

Playing Pocket Kings - Cowboys or King Kong

EV= 1.67

Playable in any position - Play them stronger early against multiple players.  If an ace hits the board lead out betting just as if you paired your ace - if you are re-raised its likely that you are beat - small bets should be called but large ones even if they are bluffs are better not followed. If your raise is called play cautiously possible checking or folding to a reasonable raise on the turn and river - if your hand does not improve

Warnings (play with caution) - an ace on the board, possible straights, flushes, the board is paired

 

Pocket Queens

QSpade QClub

Playing Pocket Queens - ladies or Hilton Sisters

EV= 1.22

Playable in any position - Make stronger bets early than AA or KK to remove weak draws to hands holding an ace or a King, especially on the flop when you are ahead. If their is more than one player all-in it is best to fold even pre-flop. If an Ace or a King hits the board on the flop it is likely best to go ahead and bet out as if you made your hand - be sure not to commit too much. If there is more than 3 players it is best to check and fold.

Warnings (play with caution) - Ace or King on the board, possible straights, flushes, the board is paired (trips or full house)

 

Pocket Jacks

JDiamond JHeart

Playing Pocket Jacks - Fishhooks or Jokers

EV= 0.86

Playable in any position - Stronger opening bets mixed with limps or calls, Play this one fast if you are ahead on the flop.

Warnings (play with caution) - Over cards on the board, possible straights, flushes, the board is paired

 

Pocket Tens

10Spade 10Club

Playing Pocket Tens - Dimes, or Boxcars

EV= 0.58

Playable cautiously in early position, all other positions.  Good to limp in with or play aggressively.  In No Limit and Pot Limit fold to a raise and re-raise.

Warnings (play with caution) - Over cards on the board, possible straights, flushes, the board is paired

 

 

Medium Pairs

Playing Medium Pairs from 99 down you are starting to look at improving your hand more to carry you through to the river.  It is better to either be the aggressor or the limper,  an early re-raise can help establish your hand strength without committing too many chips.  If your re-raise early it can help establish your hand strength without committing as many chips as playing the hand through.  If your re-raise is raised you should consider mucking your hand unless you have a good read on your opponent.  In tournament play you are looking to flop trips or win the hand early uncontested.

Pocket Nines

9Diamond 9Heart

Playing Pocket Nines - Gretzky, Meathooks or German Virgins

EV= 0.38

Playable in any position except early position - pocket nines are more likely than no to be in the lead after the flop it is good to test the waters with a bet and to be weary of bets when there are over cards on the table it is also wise to bet out on three flush cards, straight cards or a pair as if you made them, you may get re-raised by a made hand but the smaller bet (but reasonable) on the flop will be profitable longer term as more often than not with one or two players in the pot your bet will scare them to fold. In the same case it is likely better to fold when faced with a raise in this situation.

Warnings (play with caution) - Over cards on the board, possible straights, flushes, the board is paired

 

Pocket Eights

8Spade 8Club

Playing Pocket Eights - Snowmen, Double Infinity, Fat Ladies

EV= 0.25

Playable in any position except early position - small and medium raises and the occasional limp are good tactics.

Warnings (play with caution) - Over cards on the board, possible straights, flushes, the board is paired

 

Pocket Sevens

7Diamond 7Heart

Playing Pocket Sevens - Hockey Sticks or Walking Sticks

EV= 0.16

Playable in mid to late position or the blinds with a raise or calling a small bet. Looking to have your opponents fold to your small to medium raising or to make trips. Limping in then calling to a small raise or folding to a larger one is another tactic.

Warnings (play with caution) - Over cards on the board, possible straights, flushes, the board is paired

 

Pocket Sixes

6Spade 6Club

Playing Pocket Sixes - Mario Lemieux , Route 66

EV= 0.07

Playable in late position or the blinds with a raise or calling a small bet. Looking to have your opponents fold to your small to medium raising or to make trips. Limping in then calling to a small raise or folding to a larger one is another tactic.

Warnings (play with caution) - Over cards on the board, possible straights, flushes, the board is paired

 

 

Small Pairs

Small pairs should be played less often than medium pairs and from the later positions and cheaply on the blinds. Fours Threes and Deuces have a negative EV, so over the long term they are net losing hands. With these hand you like to see a flop to try to make trips cheaply or to win them uncontested. They fair far words against multiple players than the Big and medium pairs.

Pocket Fives

5Diamond 5Heart

Playing Pocket Fives - Speedlimit or Nickels

EV= 0.02

Playable in late position or the blinds with a raise or calling a small bet. Looking to have your opponents fold to your small to medium raising or to make trips. Limping in then calling to a small raise or folding to a larger one is another tactic.

Warnings (play with caution) - Over cards on the board, possible straights, flushes, the board is paired

 

Pocket Fours

4Spade 4Club

Playing Pocket Fours - Magnum

EV= -0.03

Playable in late position or the blinds with a raise or calling a small bet. Looking to have your opponents fold to your small to medium raising or to make trips. Limping in then calling to a small raise or folding to a larger one is another tactic.

Warnings (play with caution) - Over cards on the board, possible straights, flushes, the board is paired

 

Pocket Threes

3Diamond 3Heart

Playing Pocket Threes - Hooters or Crabs

EV= -0.07

Playable in late position or the blinds with a raise or calling a small bet. Looking to have your opponents fold to your small to medium raising or to make trips. Limping in then calling to a small raise or folding to a larger one is another tactic.

Warnings (play with caution) - Over cards on the board, possible straights, flushes, the board is paired

 

Pocket Twos

2Spade 2Club

Playing Pocket Twos or Ducks or Swans

EV= -0.09

Playable in late position or the blinds with a raise or calling a small bet. Looking to have your opponents fold to your small to medium raising or to make trips. Limping in then calling to a small raise or folding to a larger one is another tactic. Heads up pocket twos are a favourite to AK.

Warnings (play with caution) - Over cards on the board, possible straights, flushes, the board is paired

 

 

General Pocket Pair Strategy

Pocket pairs are best played faster than drawing hands but what you really want is to make trips which happens 1 in 5 times.  So it doesn't get too confusing what you may want to do is to play them all the same (same size bet) every time so that the other players don't get a tell on you. In Playing Texas Holdem Poker, No Limit Holdem and Pot Limit, you want to be more cautious especially against big bets.  In Limit holdem you want to call more often to keep other players on their toes when making a bet.  Remember to save bets when you can so that they can be bet when things are more decisively in your favour.

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