A brief study of big pocket pairs



Rock Star
Jun 25, 2005
Total posts
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.

Jesus Lederer

Jesus Lederer

Rock Star
May 9, 2005
Total posts
Thanks very much for posting this Bill. Playing big pocket pairs is a very common situation that i must face at ring games and i feel uncomfortable with it especially post flop. Up to the moment i have been a player who gives huge implied odds with big pocket pairs and i have lost a lot of money because of that.
I´m happy that my thread (and my mistake) inspired this thread, and i would really appreciate if you read the HH i posted and give me your comments about it (there are a lot mistakes to read that may inspire you to write more threads).


Feb 2, 2005
Total posts
this is why so many people hate aces or kings; they just can't let them go when they are beat (including myself occosionally)
people think that they are invincible and get frustrated when they bust with them.
"Yesterday, I got SO unlucky - i lost with AA to some donk with 67s or 55"
well like Bill said, they played that hand because you gave them such big implied odds!

anyways great post Bill; great info and analysis on big PPs


Oct 7, 2005
Total posts
Bill's analysis also illustrates why raising substantially pre-flop is so important - while pocket Aces are the favourite, you don't want to get enough stragglers that one is liable to hit either 2 pair or a draw, because that will generally put you in really bad shape. I tend to think that AA gets most of its value playing against one or perhaps 2 other players, where there aren't nearly as many combinations that will crack your hand, but where you can still get a lot of chips.
There's another element to this - if you make a big raise, then your callers will mostly be AX or a pocket pair. The pocket pair will improve less often than non-paired hands, and the AX hands are dominated by yours and are in terrible shape - you'd rather be against AX hands than any others at this point.