Early in a tournament, when blinds are small, you can play small and medium pairs from any position. The intention is to flop a set or fold.
Limp whenever you can or call a small raise. You should never re-raise with these hands or call big raises. This only creates a big pot with a drawing hand and reduces your implied odds. Often a big raise will compoletely kill your odds to draw to a set(roughly 7 to 1 implied odds).
When you have medium pairs, you will sometimes flop an overpair to the board. This is a very dangerous situation becuase you have terrible reverse-implied odds. Here are the problems with an overpair to the board when the pair is not big:
- Someone may have you crushed with a bigger pair
- Players with high cards often call bets, especially AK, AQ. They have 6 outs to improve.
- Your hand is unlikely to improve. You only have 2 outs drawing to a set
- The lower your overpair, the closer the flop cards are which means there are str8 draws on board. If the blinds are in the hand, it is likely they connected with that flop, either with a draw, or a pair.
These problems are the same you would encounter if you played a garbage hand like A8o and the flop came 8-high. Your objective was to flop a set, not an overpair. So post-flop an overpair should be played very carefully. If you are OOP, it is extremely difficult to play it profitably. If in position, and it is checked to you, you can bet. If there is a small bet, you could call with the intention to fold if there is more pressure. You should definitly not go all-in with a single overpair. It is better to fold a better hand with little chance of improvement, than to go broke with a single small overpair.
In summary, early in a tournament I play medium pairs like small pairs --- with the intention to draw to a set.