Playing Low Pocket Pairs in NL Texas Hold em


I would like to share an exert from a Q&A that I had with a poker student:

“I lost a nice pot with a weak full house, two’s full of four’s and I hit it on the flop. I was targeting one of these idiots that played and raised with anything. Once I hit my what I thought was a winning hand, all I could think of was draining this guy out of all he had. I was in late position, he was in early position and disguised his hand very well. The river card came up an Ace, by this time I’d taken off the gloves and went to the mat with him. I was so focused on the pot that I didn’t recognize that this guy had a strong pocket pair, A A’s. Well, he took me down with a better full house. I look back on my play and I think I was in a no win situation from the start with my weak pocket twos but when the flop came 2 4 4, well that’s when my emotions took over and I stopped thinking. ”

The key phrase here, which this player later recognized, is “no win situation with weak pocket twos”

The hand described with the pocket 2’s that made the full house is a tough one. You can’t easily get away from it and there was probably no way he was going to fold his A-A, so this was  likely a hand that was destined to lose.  However, what it does show is the downside of playing low pocket pairs. Usually when you hit a set, you are golden, especially when it turns into a full house. However, playing low pocket pairs, you are subjected to a higher pocket pair hitting a higher full house. Or in this case, someone playing A-4 could have beaten you thinking he hit a good set, (to your full house) only to end up with, again, a higher full house. Best to play small pocket pairs with caution. A probe bet on the Flop would have been the best play here and when your opponent stayed with you, scale back on the Turn and River, because in this case, the only hands that could be calling you are also likely to be the hands that can beat you. A tough lesson, but a good one to remember.

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