Hand Quality: Pocket Pairs

Pocket pairs (PPs) represent only 5.88% of all starting hand combinations but are represented in ranges very often due to their ability to hit sets.

Pocket pairs

They are often roughly divided into three groups:

Individual Breakdown:

AA

Hand strength = Top 0.45% of hands. Equity vs. random hand* = 85.2%.

Speculative value = 11.8% chance to hit a set+, 2.2% to hit nut flush draw (but there is a small chance someone flopped the flush)

Position = Not reliant on position (even though it always helps a bit). It is often a good hand to have in the blinds due to 3betting/squeezing scenarios preflop.

Previous action in the hand = The only starting hand that is not only completely insensitive to preflop aggression by multiple players, but in fact always profits from it. Preflop stackoff equity vs. range of AA-QQ**, AK = 84%.

* This is important mostly in tournaments but is relevant in any game format. Huge majority of people normally don’t play a 100% range in cash games (at least for real money).

** Considered a standard stackoff range vs. unknowns/average player pool. Real ranges depend on a player and relative positions, widest being in BTN vs. SB vs. BB battles. If a player never 3bets below KK, then obviously 4bet/stackoff with QQ is unwise.

KK

Hand strength = Weaker than 0.45% of hands (6 AA combos), stronger than 99.1%. Equity vs. random hand = 82.4%.

Speculative value = 11.8% chance to hit a set+. Hitting a K-high flush draw is problematic due to the possibility of someone having the dominating Ace or a flopped flush.

Position = Same as AA. Overcards (Aces) flop 23% of the time.

Previous action in the hand = Similar to AA, but in case of preflop aggression by several players, it is in much worse shape due to weaker stackoff equity vs. AK combos (69% instead of 92%) and the possibility that someone has AA. Preflop stackoff equity vs range of AA-QQ, AK = 57.2%.

QQ

Hand strength = Weaker than 0.90% of hands, stronger than 98.6%. Equity vs random hand = 79.9%.

Speculative value = 11.8% chance to hit a set+. Flopping a one-card OESD on a KJTr board is not good due to the K overcard, 2 pair combos, AQ combos that people routinely play and possibility of other Qx being played.

Position = Premium hand but somewhat vulnerable out of position, especially in situations when facing 3bets in EP (due to perceived strength of EP opening range, 3bets are normally fairly strong on average). Overcards (A,K) flop 41% of the time.

Previous action in the hand = Plays well against single raises, light 3bets from BTN or 3bets in CO/BTN/SB/BB battles. In case of preflop aggression by several players it is not in great shape vs strong ranges. This means good reads on opponent’s 3bet/squeeze/4bet ranges are critical. Preflop stackoff equity vs. range of AA-QQ, AK = 40.2%.

JJ

Hand strength = Weaker than 1.36% of hands, stronger than 98.2%. Equity vs random hand = 77.5%.

Speculative value = 11.8% chance to hit a set+.

Position = Vulnerable out of position. Overcards (A, K, Q) flop 57% of the time.

Previous action in the hand = Plays well against single raises, needs to be careful otherwise. In case of preflop aggression by several players it is often best to fold JJ. Many people try to setmine and then get “priced in” when someone shoves, get stacked and complain on forums how JJ is impossible to play. Preflop stackoff equity vs range of AA-QQ, AK = 36.2%.

TT

Hand strength = Weaker than 1.81% of hands, stronger than 97.7%. Equity vs. random hand = 75%.

Speculative value = 11.8% chance to hit a set+.

Position = Very vulnerable out of position. Overcards (A, K, Q, J) flop around 69% of the time.

Previous action in the hand = Same as JJ. Preflop stackoff equity vs. range of AA-QQ, AK = 36.4%. This is slightly larger than JJ due to more winning straights (less card blocking).

99

Hand strength = Weaker than 2.56% of hands, stronger than 97%. Equity vs. random hand = 72.1%.

Speculative value = 11.8% chance to hit a set+.

Position = Very vulnerable out of position. Overcards flop 79% of the time.

Previous action in the hand = Same as JJ. Preflop stackoff equity vs. range of AA-QQ, AK = 35.8%. Reason this is lower than TT despite even better straight possibilities is that now more double paired boards come into consideration (AK wins vs. 99 on QQTT5 board).

88

Hand strength = Weaker than 4.83% of hands, stronger than 94.7%. Equity vs random hand = 69.2%.

Speculative value = 11.8% chance to hit a set+.

Position = Very vulnerable out of position. Overcards flop 87% of the time.

Previous action in the hand = Same as JJ. Preflop stackoff equity vs. range of AA-QQ, AK = 35.8%.

77

Hand strength = Weaker than 9.8% of hands, stronger than 89.7%. Equity vs random hand = 66.2%.

Speculative value = 11.8% chance to hit a set+.

Position = Extremely vulnerable out of position. Overcards flop 92% of the time. If there are no overcards, flop is either paired (danger of trips in addition to “normal” danger of better pocket overpairs) or is a straight (65432) when it is basically impossible to get paid by worse and there are cooler situations against 87s.

Previous action in the hand = Same as JJ. Preflop stackoff equity vs. range of AA-QQ, AK = 35.8%.

66

Hand strength = Weaker than 15.7% of hands, stronger than 84.3%. Equity vs. random hand = 63.3%.

Speculative value = 11.8% chance to hit a set+.

Position = Extremely vulnerable out of position. Ideally played in LP as open raise (steal) or for set mining against tight ranges. Overcards flop 96% of the time, rest of the time flop is at least paired. Tight full ring players simply open fold small pairs (66-22) in EP since only good flops are those on which they hit a set (which can get over-setted!), all straights they can make are very vulnerable to suited connectors, one-card flushes are basically worthless and even unpaired hands usually beat them on double paired boards (for example even a 7-high hand beats 66 on TT882).

Previous action in the hand = It is OK to open them in MP or later, or to setmine in LP or BB especially with 2+ players ahead in single raised pot. Calling in SB is a bit tricky if BB likes to squeeze. Preflop stackoff equity vs. range of AA-QQ, AK = 35.9% (micro uptick due to 5432x boards).

55

Hand strength = Weaker than 25.1% of hands, stronger than 74.4%. Equity vs. random hand = 60.3%.

Speculative value = 11.8% chance to hit a set+.

Position = Same as 66.

Previous action in the hand = Same as 66. Preflop stackoff equity vs. range of AA-QQ, AK = 35.7%

44

Hand strength = Weaker than 36.2% of hands, stronger than 63.4%. Equity vs. random hand = 57%.

Speculative value = 11.8% chance to hit a set+.

Position = Same as 66.

Previous action in the hand = Same as 66. Preflop stackoff equity vs. range of AA-QQ, AK = 35.1%

33

Hand strength = Weaker than 48.1% of hands, stronger than 51.4%. Equity vs. random hand = 53.7%.

Speculative value = 11.8% chance to hit a set+.

Position = Same as 66.

Previous action in the hand = Same as 66. Preflop stackoff equity vs. range of AA-QQ, AK = 34.6%

22

Hand strength = Weaker than 59.1% of hands, stronger than 40.4%. Equity vs. random hand = 50.3%.

Speculative value = 11.8% chance to hit a set+.

Position = Same as 66.

Previous action in the hand = Same as 66. Preflop stackoff equity vs. range of AA-QQ, AK = 34%

 

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