A brief study of big pocket pairs
These are the hands you have been waiting for, the big pocket pairs. Lets examine the things that we must consider in play.
The first consideration when playing big pocket pairs is as with everything else position, and table composition.
These considerations involve for example limp reraising early position. You must be sure that there are players sufficiently
loose enough (table composition) that you can count on raising, so that you can reraise. middle and late postions play differently,
so know your table and formulate your plan.
Next, stack size of you and your opponents. It is important that you consider what implied odds
you are offering. An example, a super super
tight guy whom you have played for ten years only raises AA preflop. He raises, making it 100 to go. You have 2000 and he has 3000. You look
down at 66. Can you call? well, you are 5-1 dog. But, you know if you hit your set he will stack off with you. You have tremendous implied odds
and need to make that call. You are getting well over the 8 to 1 needed to take this hand when you hit. If one of you has 300 then you cant
make up the odds when you hit your set. Now you cant draw to the AA profitably and must fold.
Therefor when you hold these big pairs, make sure you are not offering implied odds that you opponent can make up for after the flop.
The best way to eliminate the implied odds preflop of course is to push all in. The thing is this is not always practical, and these hands
unlike most are worth a bit more than the blinds. In other words a huge preflop bet that wins a few dollars in blinds is a severe tragedy.
These hands can stand some action. The worst thing you can do is give someone implied odds to draw against your big pocket pair, and then reward
them by paying them off. If they know youll pay them off, they can make even huger draws against you. So, make them pay, and then when they hit \
fold and dont reward them.
SO, to breifly recap, we need to get huge stacks into the pot preflop, or we need to keep the pot small and managable.
Here is why and how:
What is the most likely winning value in holdem? 2 pair. That includes paired boards with pocket pair holdings, but the point is at showdown,
often one pair is not enough. Unimproved, AA is just one measely pair in the end. It is just not a strong enough hand to go broke with. Look at
your stats. Isnt one of your most profitable situations when you flop bottom 2 pair, or better (a set) vs an over pair. You've heard your opponents
stack off with their kings and say damn, I figured when you reraised allin on that flop I was probably beat. Am I right?
This is a classic trap the old over pair vs under set. Lets let our opponents go bust in this trap, we are going to fold instead.
So, we raise preflop and get our caller. Flop looks pretty tame, uncoordinated etc. we raise 2/3 of the pot. If we get called we start
to see warning lights, and start looking to slow down. If we get raised we take our small loss, and move on. (of course this depends on
how much the raise is, the player, and what we have done in the past.) But, the point is we are looking for escape hatches.
Conversely, your opponents cant old these hand. You will be blessed when your set runs into AA because he will pay you off in full.
I have made a promise. If I cant get huge all-in preflop, I try to keep the pot small.
So, you can bust me, but if every chip I have is going in on later streets, you can bet I have a strong straight, flush, or set.
Oh and please bet on it because this is where the bread and butter is. If you can beat a set you may have it all. Beating my top or
overpair, I just wont pay you off.
When playing for all of your chips be cogniscent of the value of your hand. And yes it is all relative to the situation , the players etc.
I just CALLED an all in, which is worse than actually pushing all in with a pair of 8's. Because, I knew this player.
A quick rule of thumb, drawing hands are bet and make money on later streets. Made hands make money on early streets.
draws want small bets up front big ones in back. The opposite is true with made hands. IF you have someone playing back at your AA on later streets, they have made the draw and are now trying to earn from it.
I look forward to commits, critiques and discussions.
A special thanks to Jesus Lederer who inspired this brief study.