Learn How to Play Pocket Pairs in Hold’em

Some of the toughest hands to play are pocket pairs, especially small and medium pairs when you have to play them in early position. Pocket pairs are strong hands in Texas Hold’em, but they are not always easy to handle since there are so many flops where there will be overcards to your pair showing and you will not know if you’re ahead. If there are many players at the flop, there is a very good chance that someone now has a better pair.

These are some poker strategy tips that hopefully will help you maximize your poker winnings.

Big Pocket Pairs

Every poker player loves to get a big pocket pair. However, these poker hands do not win automatically, they have to be protected. A raise to three or four times the big blind is recommended in online games. In live poker games you can open raise bigger. This will help to get more money into the pot with what is likely to be the best hand as well as narrow down the field, and therefore increasing your chances of winning. If you slow play your pair of Aces, King or Queens, you might get unlucky and lose to a much weaker hand. If your hand improves on the flop, you should check and hope your opponent also has improved.

Middle Pocket Pairs

If you’re sitting in early position with a middle pair (for example 8’s or 9’s), you should limp in and hope to see a cheap flop. If you’re in late position and no one has raised you should consider raising. The other players might think that you are trying to steal the blinds and will probably call with worse hands. Obviously you have to be careful when there are over cards on the board. Normally, Aces, Kings and Queens are more dangerous than Jacks and Tens. Remember that second pair often will be the best hand when there is only one over card on the flop. If you flop a set you should slow play it unless there are obvious straight or flush draws on the board.

Small Pocket Pairs

These pairs are easy to play most of the time. There is no default way to play these hands. It depends on the game and table you’re playing at. Generally speaking, though, you want to try to see a cheap flop in the hopes of hitting a set. If you miss the flop you should fold. If you hit the flop you should slow play your hand unless there are obvious straight or flush draws on the board.


Should you hold or fold your pocket pair? You won’t really know how good your hand is until the flop. Quite often, you see players overvaluing pocket pairs. It’s an easy thing to do because you already have a made hand before the flop. However, after the flop is when you get to really determine the strength of your hand, and when all is said and done, all you have is a one pair hand. Against a tight player, your chances of being ahead when all the chips go in the middle are very slim.

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