Big pairs discussion



Feb 2, 2005
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There have been a few HA threads relating to big pairs and a member (who's name I won't disclose since he sent me a PM about this, and I can only assume that he wants a PM to stay private) PM'ed me about it:


Hope you don't mind me sending this but I am a bit confused.

The other week a thread was started about Aces being cracked. It transpired the author had only raised 3xBB, got a caller and got sucked out on the turn when the other guy made a flush/straight. (Cannot remember the full specifics).

I queried the raise of only 3xBB and was crucified (not by you), the reason being you want to encourage action when sitting with AA.

I have always read on CC that you protect your hand and make the other players pay.

Now on Estelles pocket KK's against a maniac thread you say raise way more pre-flop. She has already gone in 10xBB, 4XBB more than the original raiser.

This has confused me after the thread on pocket AA's

Is it the fact that this is a cash game and not a tourney anything or am I failing to see the point here.

Thanks in advance for your help
and I responded:

So basically you're asking "do we want to make inviting bets or not PF"?


The absolute worst thing to do with big pairs is to let someone see a cheap flop.

Ideally with big pairs, we want to get as much money in PF when we know we're either ahead of our opponents range or just plain crushing them (ie with AA). We'd also like to get the hand HU if possible, or at least down to 2 players since as more players are seeing a flop vs your aces, the bigger the chance of one of them outflopping you.

There are some significant differences between the two hands you're talking about. In the original one, I'm assuming that the player open raised. Open raising 3 or 4 BBs is fine as you do want action; raising to 10 or some irregular number of BBs will often just scare people off since you're telegraphing your hand's strength by the size of your bet. By opening with 3BBs, we give the next potential caller 1.5:1 pot odds which is more than small enough to make any call 'incorrect'.

[ got me rambling now :D]

In Estelle's hand, there were two people who had already showed interest in the pot, and we can make a bigger raise to get the most out of our KK as possible. Her raise gave her opponents 3.25:1, wayyyy to good for KK. We need to raise it up enough that we give them ~2:1 or worse. Don't look at her raise as '10 BBs', but rather that she raised less than 3X what the previous raise was. Even if she was HU, she'd still be giving the original raiser 2.6:1 pot odds, still too inviting.

Anyways, in short it's all situational. If noone's shown interest, then a 3BB bet is fine [early in a tournament when people are willing to call millionBB bets, of course it's different]. If several people have shown interest and there's a lot of money in the pot, then we need to raise a lot more.

Hope that rant helped you in some way...if not then just post in the poker strategies section and we can get other people's opinions.
Anybody got any comments/thoughts on the subject? I know it's a big toughy for a lot of players who mention that they 'dread' seeing AA or KK or whatever.


Oct 10, 2006
Total posts
I agree with all of that.

Sticking with AA, you know you have the best hand prelop (and you should assume the same with KK as well unless you want to drive yourself nuts).

When you have the best hand you should be looking to get the maximum amount in the pot. You also need to make sure that your opponent is put in a position where it is a mistake for them to call.

This means that in an unraised pot a 3xbb raise is fine as you want a call and the opportunity to play some post-flop poker as appropriate, you also want to encourage the reraise.

However if someone has already raised then you are left with a decision to make, you can call and look to play post-flop poker (and there IS a time for this in tournies) but much more commonly you want to reraise to once again give them the chance to put their chips in behind build the pot while you are ahead and give them a chance to make a mistake.

It's very context specific but generally you should consider that the pot is already a decent size (usually 4.5BB or more) and you are ok with winning it there. More importantly you are delighted to get a call and your long-term EV in this position is huuuuuuuuugely in your favour.

And just to add a wrinkle to this, against multiple opponents in MTTs where one has raised 3xbb ish and one or more has called, you can't go far wrong pushing AA and KK in tournies (assuming an average stack).


Advanced beginner
Sep 20, 2006
Total posts
And just to add a wrinkle to this, against multiple opponents in MTTs where one has raised 3xbb ish and one or more has called, you can't go far wrong pushing AA and KK in tournies (assuming an average stack).

And just to confuse things more, I probably don't get all my money in early in a MTT unless there is, as Irexes says, money waiting on the table. Cash games, where survival is not a factor, is a different matter. In cash always try to get all your (and obviously, someone elses as well) money in preflop, while you're likely way ahead.

And the other thing I wanted to mention, is the difficulty getting off big pairs on the flop. Brunson says something about liking AK more than AA or KK just because it's much easier to fold if you missed the flop. But a flop like JT9, or JJ9 is not one I'd want to risk the rest of my money on.

But one isn't required to pay attention to me, as I'm not in the other two posters' class. :)


Mar 24, 2007
Total posts
I agree with you NL, it is at times hard to get off big pairs after the flop, some players tend to lose alot of money on them.

On another thread today, bombjack made a great laydown with AA. Not everyone is able to do that.