More on Pocket Pairs in No Limit Holdem


I wanted to follow up today with another posting dealing with the subject I talked about yesterday which is how to play pocket pairs in NLH. When I read advice or strategy tips from other sites and other poker players, they tend to give advice in a ‘one size fits all’ type of format and I think that is the worst mistake that you can make when playing poker. What strategy you use and how you play certain cards is very dependent upon what kind of game you are playing and and where you are playing it.

For example, I firmly believe that not putting in too much money and limping if you can with small to mid pocket pairs is a great strategy for playing online in lower limit cash games, tournaments, etc. But, what about if you are playing the $150 daily tournament at the Venetian in Vegas? What about if you are in a cash game at the Bicycle in LA? What about the Main Event at the WSOP?

What I am saying is, you could/would/should adopt a different strategy or modify the one you are using based on the game you are playing. Saying “I am going to limp with all small pocket pairs” may not get it done in a high dollar cash game at the Bellagio. I can tell you for sure that I would be more LIKELY to raise with small or middle pocket pairs in a live game in a casino than I would in an online game.

Why? The answer is simple: online you are more likely to be called by a much larger range of hands because the person you are playing against feels anonymous. You cannot see him. If he makes a stupid play he just moves on. You cannot tell if he has tons of money in his bank account and calling you means nothing to him or if this is his last $10. However, at a live table, there is much moreĀ  of a feeling of ‘peer pressure’ Players tend to want to impress their fellow poker players and not look like a jackass because they called a 5x preflop raise with K-7 suited. Online, they are just another face in the crowd and feel they can take more chances without the stigma of looking like a fool to people they are sitting 6 feet away from.

Also, the dollar size of the game does matter.If nothing else, it matter from the basic perspective that stealing the blinds with a raise is much more valuable if you are playing $100/$200 than if you are playing $.10/$.25.

In any case, I think you get the picture and this relates to the center of everything I teach when I coach players on how to play poker: you must stay fluid and adjust your game to each set of circumstance if you want to be a successful poker player. I cannot tell you how to play pocket 5’s in every situation because everyone will be slightly different. I can give you some basic rules and thoughts, but it is up to you to apply these to every different game that you play. That is the secret to winning poker.


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