Most internet poker players tend to get too excited about pocket pairs. It is always a good feeling when you see that you have a pocket pair, but no matter how big a pocket pair you have (even Aces) you should not get to carried away playing that pair. What you need to do is analyze the pair based on how high it is, position, chip count, the aggressiveness of the table, and so on, rather than just concentrating on the two cards that you have been dealt.
Here is what I mean: lets say you are dealt pocket 9’s in middle position at a very tight table. Before you can get you chips in, you are faced with a 3x BB raise which 2 players in front of you call.. What do you do?
At a very tight table, you can almost assume that you are up against face cards of some sort, maybe even a high pair. Regardless, you are probably going into the flop behind. So, do you want to fold? My answer is that I like to see the flop with any pocket pair unless it is too pricey to do so.
I would call this bet, unless there is a compelling reason not to, like small chip stack, etc. See the flop and try to hit your set. What you need to remember is that you are probably facing hands with higher cards than your 9’s. So, if the flop comes something like K-J-4, you are very likely in trouble. The point is, go into the hand with the proper expectations. In this instance, your expectations should be to hit trips or get out. It is that simple.
Let’s take the same hand late in a SnG and you are on the button, everyone in front of you has folded. What are your expectations here? They had better be that you have the best hand because you very likely do. Of course, you will raise, but you are not looking just to hit trips at this point, you are looking to dominate this hand regardless of the flop. Certainly if the flop comes Q-7-2 and your opponent raises all in, you will need to reconsider, but overall this is a pocket pair that you will be aggressive with as opposed to the previous example where you should be somewhat cautious.
The point is, you need to play pocket pairs in a wide variety of ways in a wide variety of situations. Learn this, and you will be several steps ahead of most online players. More pocket pair situations tomorrow where I will examine how to sniff out whether someone else has hit trips with their pocket pair against you.
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