Playing Pocket Pairs
Pocket pairs can be one of the most deceiving hands to be dealt in Texas Holdem. With pocket pairs, you already have an advantage over all the other players, you have a pair. Unfortunately, unless you get three of a kind on the flop, you probably shouldn’t stay in for the remaining two cards. Here is one way pocket pairs can be played.
Don’t get too excited with your pocket pairs but don’t try to slow play them. Going all in or not raising the blind at all isn’t a good idea. Think about this, you have a pocket pair and you are probably winning as of right now (unless someone else has a higher pocket pair.) If you don’t raise the blinds and all the other players see the flop, you’re probably in trouble.
Before the Flop
Chances are one of them paired an ace or king. They could have two pair, straight, flush, or straight/flush draw. Now there are so many reasons for the other players to stay in, your pocket pair isn’t looking very good. The best thing to do before the flop is to bet strong enough so that only a few people stay in to see the flop. If they call before the flop, you
know they either have a pocket pair or face cards. They wouldn’t call with a bad hand unless you are playing with inexperienced players.
After the Flop
Once the flop has been dealt, there are several things to take into consideration. First, did you get three of a kind? Second, look at the cards that flopped. If they are face cards and you have a low pocket pair, one of the other players probably paired the board and you are no longer winning. If the flop is all low cards, than consider the possibility that you are still in the lead with your pair. As long as no high cards flop, you have a good chance of winning. It’s very important to look at the suit of the cards too. If they are all the same suit, take into consideration your hand and the strength of the cards you have. Then think about the other players hands and how they could already have the flush or how they could be on flush draw and destroy your hand. Say you have pocket Jacks and the flop is all low cards without a straight or flush possibility. You have a decision to make, to bet and scare off the other players, or check and take the chance of an opponent getting a higher pair on the turn.
Getting Trips on the Flop
You have about a 12% chance of getting trips on the flop. If you do, you can slow play or bet depending on the other two cards. If there is no flush or straight possibility, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to check and draw in your opponent. If there is a straight of flush possibility, you should definitely bet to scare off the other players who want to fish on the turn and river for their card. If they want to try and get lucky, make them pay!
The Turn and River
Now you really have to try and read the remaining players. Look at the cards on the flop, turn, and river and decide if you have the winning hand. Think about how they bet and reacted to the cards shown. If you bet strong after the flop and they checked after the turn, don’t give them a break. Bet strong again! The last thing you want is them to get a flush or straight on the river. Don’t give them the opportunity to get lucky, or if you do give them the opportunity, make them pay for it.