Small Pairs in no-limit Holdem

Posted August 11th, 2013 by LuckyMe

Playing small pairs in poker can be difficult if you don’t know what your aim should be in different scenarios, as you’ll know if you’ve ever played on the likes of Pokerstars.

In general you should class any pocket pair that is eights and below as small pocket pairs. The reason for this is that unless you hit a set with these hands you’re unlikely to win the pot at showdown. Indeed, in some cases it’s correct to add pocket nines to that category as, again, their value comes mainly from making a set post-flop.

Understanding that it takes making a set to have any degree of showdown strength with small pocket pairs is crucial in planning a strategy with these hands. As a basic strategy you should fold all small pairs when you are seat 1 and 2 at a 9 handed table.

As you move round to seats 3 and 4 you can begin to play in any unopened pots with the top of this range e.g. nines, eights and sevens. From seats 5 and 6 you can now bring in pocket sixes and fives. From seat 7, which is the button, you can open all your small pocket pairs as there are only two players to get through.

If someone has raised before it’s your turn to act you need to take into consideration two factors before either calling or raising.

The first consideration is the relative stack sizes (the size of their stack and yours). In order to call with the intention of hitting a set you need to ensure that there’s enough money to make it in both your stacks to make it worthwhile. The odds against hitting a set are roughly 7 to 1, thus you need at least 70big blinds each before considering a call.

The second consideration is the players left to act behind you. If there’s an aggressive player prone to raising if too many people call, then it’s wise to fold because you can’t afford to play a large pot out of position with mediocre hands.

Playing small pairs can be a tricky proposition but if you follow these simple rules you’ll find you’ll stop leaking money with them and start profiting.

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