# Pocket pair

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#### DarkAndEarly

##### Guest
When I have a small pocket pair (9's or lower) I'll always try to limp in. How many times the big blind should I be willing to go pre flop?

#### reglardave

##### Legend
Like so many questions of this type, the answer is..........it depends. This is such a situational decision, based on chip stacks, position, # of other playersin the pot, yasayasa, that, well......it depends. As a general rule, um, it depends.

#### K_Kahne_Fan

##### Legend
Yeah, at a tourney in Vegas a lady took half my stack when I called her all in; she had 2-2, I had AKs (I hit nadda). Two hands later she finished me off when I went AI with 7-7 and she called with QJos (hit a J). So... it depends

#### KingCurtis

##### Legend
As a general rule...

If you are describing how you play, and you have to use the word "always" you are doing something wrong.

There are no always in poker...just like "there is no crying in baseball."

Your above thread should read something to the effect of:

On a short handed table where 4+ people are seeing every flop for a single bet; if the person to my right raises and I have a pp smaller then 99 should I call, raise or fold?

I aggree you cant go in with a set pattern....the big winners are always switching gears and changing their play up to fool everyone else you keep limping in witht hose small pairs and eventually it will be noticed and eventually your traps or betting patterns after limping in will be folded to.

#### aliengenius

##### Cardschat Elite
As a general rule, implied odds allow you to call up to 10% of the smaller of the stacks. For example, you have 2,000 and your opponent has 1,200 you could call a bet of 120; if you have 3,000 and your opponent has 15,000 you can call a bet of 300.

No real absolutes, as has been noted, but that's a starting guideline.

#### KingCurtis

##### Legend
As a general rule, implied odds allow you to call up to 10% of the smaller of the stacks. For example, you have 2,000 and your opponent has 1,200 you could call a bet of 120; if you have 3,000 and your opponent has 15,000 you can call a bet of 300.

No real absolutes, as has been noted, but that's a starting guideline.

nice info allen havent heard of this before but am writing it down for future reference!!!

it seems to be avery good way to start playing PP's

#### aliengenius

##### Cardschat Elite
Aliengenius,

I agree with this only if you can guarantee:
1. There will not be any additional betting
2. The player is likely to make this move (all-in) with A/X as he is to do it with a PP

If there is betting after the flop (i.e. the player is not all-in) then calling off 10% of your chips pre-flop seems like a bad decision in my opinion. Only when the player is all in would I follow this advice.

I believe you got this idea from Harrington on Hold 'em: Expert Strategy for No-limit Tournaments. If that is the case I would suggest going back to re-read that chaper, I think you misunderstood what he meant.

I agree that there are no absolutes, I was just giving a guideline.

1. Right, you don't want to get squeezed, obvioulsy. If you are not closing the betting, and you think it might get raised again behind you, this might be a spot to fold.

2. Not exactly sure what you are talking about here? But obvioulsy, the more likely your opponent is to stack off with tptk in addition to an overpair, the more profitable the call becomes.

Z

#### zippyflounder

##### Rock Star
if I have stack i will call bets up to 4 bb and I am religious about bailing out if I dont see my set on the flop or my pair is over all cards on the flop. I will even lead out utg with small pp's to a table full of limper/calling station types. If i get a re raise from my 2.5/3 bet utg then its a matter of whom it is, if I have stack on them if I call or not.

#### Vollycat

##### Rock Star
It was my understanding that the 'call the 10% rule' was that if their total stack was 10% of your total. i.e. he goes in for 2,000 and you have 20,000--calling with just about any 2 is near justified (given the type of player of course).

Calling a raise that is 10% of your stack doesn't make any sense to me. What if he has you outstacked? Still OK to call that raise? It has been a LONG time since I read that chapter, so I could be off my rocker confused.

#### aliengenius

##### Cardschat Elite
It was my understanding that the 'call the 10% rule' was that if their total stack was 10% of your total. i.e. he goes in for 2,000 and you have 20,000--calling with just about any 2 is near justified (given the type of player of course).

Calling a raise that is 10% of your stack doesn't make any sense to me. What if he has you outstacked? Still OK to call that raise? It has been a LONG time since I read that chapter, so I could be off my rocker confused.

Harrington's rule has nothing to do with set mining, it's a completely different topic (please start a new thread if you want to discuss it).

#### Joe_Mac

##### Rising Star
I tend to lean more towards calling up to 5 times the BB with any pocket pair below 9's. But like everyone else has stated, it depends on situation, and position.

If everyone limps to me, I will raise with any pocket pair. chance are you have the best hand, so why not take it down pre-flop. But make sure your going to be ending the betting. The last thing you want to do is raise with 22, and someone behind you goes over top of your raise. So i would have to say the most accurate answer to this question would be;

what is your situation, your chip stack, and your position at the table? Are you playing against reckless people, or passive?

#### chinababy8

##### Rising Star
When I have a small pocket pair (9's or lower) I'll always try to limp in. How many times the big blind should I be willing to go pre flop?

depends on situation and position , but most of the time at a 10 people tabe call up to 3-4x BB.

##### Rock Star
I used to play small pocket pairs like that. Limp and call. Since moving to cash games, I have kicked it out of my game pretty much. It has saved me a lot of money.

As a rule. I don't limp with anything as a rule. Sure you can bust someone if you hit a set. They can also bust you if they hit a bigger set, it may not happen often, but it has to go in to your calculations. Take in to account all the times you call a raise and lose, and it starts to get expensive. Also take the times you call with say 66 and the flop comes 2 10 5 . Are you going to let go of it with one bet at you. as you are more often that not going to be out of position.

I tend to limp if it is a multiway pot, and I am mid to late position. Then make my decision to call a raise, depending on how much odds and implied odds are available, taking in to account reverse implied odds too.

Never say never, but one thing I hate doing is being the first in to a pot and limping. It isn't something I do often

#### Chevren

##### Rock Star
I read two articles about this recently and I'm going to copy paste them here different thoughts from each instructer, I usually play the way Willis describes but Wallaces article shed some light on some deeper mathmatics involved. good reads.

From Brian Willis at thepokercamp.com

Set Mining - WillisNYC
This is such a basic concept of ring poker. Yet it constantly amazes me at how few people know and apply the concept of ‘set mining'. The concept is based on the odds of a person, who holds a pocket pair, flopping a set. Those odds are 12.5%. That percentage converts to one time in eight, a person holding a pocket pair will flop a set. A set is a very powerful ‘made' hand. It is almost always ahead on the flop and is likely to be the winner on the river unimproved. You can also ‘catch up' to flopped or made straights and flushes by pairing the board. A set is a hand most people who play ring NL are quite willing to put all their chips in the pot upon the flop.
You especially want to be calling when the 8-1 rule is met and you suspect your opponent has a high pocket pair. This is because many opponents are quite likely to push their unimproved AA or KK very hard and many are willing to get all their chips in with this type of hand postflop. This is a situation where hitting your small pocket pair likely means that you can capture your opponents entire stack. Potentially you have a very profitable situation there. So do not be afraid of his overly large raise that indicates he has a big pocket pair. Instead rub your palms with glee because you have a great opportunity here!
As an example, you have a good read on an opponent who you know only raises in early position with aces, kings, queens and AK. You are playing a ½ NL game and you each have 200 chips. He raises to 10 preflop. Each of you have 19 times this amount of chips remaining, it is an EASY call. Even if he raises to 20, you still have 9 times as many chips, another time you should not hesitate to call. If you hit your set, it is quite likely that you will earn your opponents entire stack in this situation.
An argument can be made that 8-1 is not a large enough implied odds guide to this situation because you will not always capture someones entire stack. Sometimes you will be a victim of an overset or another hand that beats you by the river. Sometimes your opponent will fold to your raise. However 8-1 is just a good ‘rule of thumb'. You actually only need 7-1 to cover your investment in the pot preflop to justify the odds of hitting your set. Most preflop raises in NL ring games are well within the guidelines of 7 or 8 to one. Especially if both of you are at or near maximum buy in. So in most situations your implied odds are greater by far than the 8-1 guideline that I suggest. Thus, most of the time, you will recover your investment in these opportunities at better than the 8-1 guideline that I suggest and you should be calling with all your pocket pairs, even the lowly 22.
This set mining concept is so powerful that you should be playing your pocket pairs over 90% of the time. So, if you have poker tracker or similar software, look in your database and see how often you are playing all your pocket pairs. If all of them are not seeing the flop at least 90% of the time, you are missing MANY opportunities for profit. So check out how you are doing when it comes to set mining and if you are missing opportunities, then stop missing out and start cashing in!

#### Chevren

##### Rock Star
From Chris Wallace at RealPokerTraining.com

Almost every one of my no-limit students lately seem to be playing too many hands. And they aren’t just loose, they are loose in the same way, and they are all quoting some of the same books and articles as justification for their plays. What is causing this problem? They all overestimate their implied odds. So here’s the real scoop on implied odds.

Stop believing everything you read. Give it some real thought, even if it comes from an expert, and decide for yourself if it is actually sound advice, or just something some poker player wrote who may win money without knowing why or being able to teach what he does. Once you start thinking for yourself you can …
Learn to break down hand histories and use PokerTracker to check your own statistics. We’ll do a hand breakdown in a moment, and PokerTracker just isn’t that complicated, get it and use it, so that you can find our for yourself if 66 is profitable in early position (in most games you’ll find it’s not) or if you should be limp reraising with QQ (maybe…). Once you have PokerTracker recording your stats so that you can test these things out, you’ll want to do a few complete hand breakdowns like this

In this example we will look at a sample hand I just ran through with one of my students a few hours ago. The student (we’ll call him Jim because, … well because it’s actually his name) Jim, thought that he was quite justified in calling a raise from a middle position player with 66 in the cutoff seat. The following conversation illustrates some good points about implied odds, and also points out how unpleasant it can be to take lessons from me if you are stubborn and can’t stop folding small pairs.

“So tell me why you called that raise.” I asked him.
“Because I thought I could stack him if I hit a set”
“How many chips did he have?” I asked.
“I’m not sure, but he wasn’t super short stacked.” came the reply.
“He had \$129, a little more than half a buy-in.” I told him “Not nearly enough chips for you to be calling that raise to \$14. Even if you are absolutely certain that he has aces, AND that he will put his whole stack in every time you hit a set, you can’t make money against him calling that raise.”
“Ok, kick my ass” came the slightly forlorn reply. I did.
Jim was calling almost 11% of his opponent’s stack. If he gets all of his opponent’s cash every time he flops a set, which will happen a little more than 13% of the time, then he should make money on the play. It isn’t very much, but it’s something right?
Wrong again.
You see we are chasing a thin edge without considering all the negatives that make it a terrible play. Even if I concede that the opponent will always give you his stack when you flop a set, which is ridiculous (half his stack on average would even be a lot) you still have a bunch of factors taking money out of the play.
Let’s start with the rake. You are paying at least \$2 in rake on a \$260 pot on most sites, and that comes right out of your profits. Now you are winning \$130 when you flop a set, if you include the blinds.
Let’s play a game many of my students know as “One Thousand Hands” And remember that I’m being very generous with many of these assumptions. Actual numbers are probably even worse for the 66.
Of the 1,000 hands, Jim will flop a set 133 times. He wins \$130 each time, because apparently his opponent is clueless and I’m generous enough here to allow it, so his profit is \$17,290 on those hands.
He will not flop a set the other 867 times, at a loss of \$14 each time. This loss adds up to \$12,138, and leaves him with a net profit of over \$5,000. Sounds great right?
Not.
First of all, we can guess that about 4% of the time, Jim will be raised off his hand by one of the two blinds who are yet to act. We also know that when he gets all his chips in on the flop, he’s only 90.7% to win the hand. A nice favorite to be sure, but not that 9.3% is going to mean a lot. So we adjust the numbers to read –
Raised and forced to fold – 40 times for a loss of \$560
Of the remaining 960 trials Jim misses the flop 832 times, for a loss of \$11,648.
Of the 128 times when he flops a set, Jim will actually lose \$129 seventeen times, for a net loss of \$2,193. Ouch, that’s expensive. (that number came from a card calculator, with a 6 on the flop and the rest of the cards being totally random).
That leaves Jim down \$560 + \$11,648 + \$2,193 = \$14,401
And how much is Jim going to make on the times he flops a set AND wins?
Jim will flop a set and win 111 times. He will win \$130 each time, for a profit of \$14,430. If we did our math correctly, Jim makes \$29 per thousand hands, or a total of \$0.029 per hand, three cents per hand. If the guy will always pay him off with all his chips when Jim Flops a set, and if the flop doesn’t contain two or three of a suit that matches on of his opponent’s big pair. And a thousand other “ifs” that I ignored to get this thing to come out to almost exactly even between the two decisions.
When we added in a reasonable estimate of all those “ifs”, Jim and I discovered that he was losing nearly a dollar per hand when he played the 6’s this way. All because someone had told him that he should play pocket pairs to a raise because he can flop a set and win a big pot. And sometimes that statement is true. If.
The moral of the story?
Use your head, do your own research, think about all the possibilities, and don’t believe something just because a poker icon wrote it. Oh and we checked Jim’s Poker Tracker database of over 60,000 hands and discovered that he had lost \$4,000 in the last 6 months calling raises with small pairs. Seeing that money as a wide screen HDTV that he had cost himself was the final straw for him, and his stubborn streak finally gave up.
Now we’ve worked out a reasonable thought process for Jim to use when dealing with small pairs facing a raise, and he can identify the profitable situations and muck them the rest of the time. He says I can come over in six months and watch the new TV I helped him earn. I’ll bring a six-pack Jim, see you in April!

#### aliengenius

##### Cardschat Elite
I read two articles about this recently and I'm going to copy paste them here different thoughts from each instructer, I usually play the way Willis describes but Wallaces article shed some light on some deeper mathmatics involved. good reads.

In the first Willis says that stack sizes should be 8x the bet to make the call. I say 10x, just to make out odds a little better, and Wallace, in the second article points out why 8x isn't enough.

In the second article Wallace simply does the math to show you why you need to have deep enough stacks to make this a good call (in his example the bet is \$14 and the stack size is \$129. Using the easy 10:1 rule we see right away that our opponent would need to have at least \$140 behind to make the call. Wallace gives the reasons that 8:1 really isn't enough:

1. rake,
2. you wont stack him every single time,
3. possibly raised off the hand by another opponent,
4. lose to bigger set, lose to flush or lose to straight.

10:1 is probably close to the line even, given those "hidden" factors.

#### K_Kahne_Fan

##### Legend
I understand each hand is different and you have to make a call based on the situation, but in using generalities, you should only call if the odds are 10:1? So if their stack is 3:1/4:1/5:1, I should not call? What if I would have won all of the 3:1++'s and lose all of the 10:1's? Granted I would definitely be hurting either way, but I would be hurting a lot more since I didn't take 3:1++'s money.

I highlighted if because since y'all are using if's, I will too

#### aliengenius

##### Cardschat Elite
What if I would have won all of the 3:1++'s and lose all of the 10:1's?

Oh my, you need serious help with the whole idea of the math of poker and the concept of expected value.

Start here.

J

#### jeffred1111

##### Visionary
The last article doesn't take into consideration the time the original raiser was squeezing/stealing/raising and we actually win the hand unimproved. Sure, it'll be rare with 66, but with 88+ (up to JJ) it can and does happen.

But I'm not keen on calling with pp's either: raising I like, reraising I might also fancy, but flat calling hardly gives us good enough odds HU, unless I'm playing an antes/straddled or equal blind game (5/5 for example). Set-mining in cash games is nice in soft/passive games or in very, very deep games where you may not stack your opponent but produce 120+ bb pots.

#### K_Kahne_Fan

##### Legend
... Using the easy 10:1 rule...
...8:1 really isn't enough...

This is what I was speaking of 8:1 is "not enough", but 10:1 is? I know you were taking this from someone else, so it's not directed at you, just using your quote. If 8:1 is not enough then 7:1, 6:1, 5:1... would not either? Why miss those chances of taking money? I understand we're supposed to make the "correct" call everytime and we'll come out ahead, but all hands are different and could be a 10:1 loser and an 8:1 winner, why not play both? And yes, I am learning the mathematics of poker still, which is why I question this (and why I'm on CC to learn ).

#### aliengenius

##### Cardschat Elite
This is what I was speaking of 8:1 is "not enough", but 10:1 is? I know you were taking this from someone else, so it's not directed at you, just using your quote. If 8:1 is not enough then 7:1, 6:1, 5:1... would not either? Why miss those chances of taking money? I understand we're supposed to make the "correct" call everytime and we'll come out ahead, but all hands are different and could be a 10:1 loser and an 8:1 winner, why not play both? And yes, I am learning the mathematics of poker still, which is why I question this (and why I'm on CC to learn ).

Ok.

Right, 10:1 is the absolute min ratio (imo). Thus 9:1, 8:1, 7:1, 6:1, 5:1 etc. is NOT enough. Why? Because if your opponent only has, say 5x the bet behind him, you are not going to make enough money long term to make up for the amount you have to call.

Say you and your opponent both have \$50, and he bet \$10. If you have 1,000 trials, where you have to call \$10 to win \$50 (assuming you win when you hit the set, which as the second article points out, isn't a given), you will call off \$10,000 (\$10 x 1,000); and you will flop a set 133 out of those 1,000 times so you will win \$6,650 (133 x \$50 that he had total in his stack), for a net loss of \$3,350.

Now if stacks are \$200 each and you have to call \$10 to win \$200 over 1,000 trials you will call off \$10,000 (\$10 x 1,000 trials, same as above), buy you will win \$26,000 (133 flopped sets, x \$200 in opponents stack), for a net gain of +16,000.

See the difference?

Anyway, the real point is that there are many mitigating factors:

1. rake,
2. you wont stack him every single time,
3. possibly raised off the hand by another opponent,
4. lose to bigger set, lose to flush or lose to straight.

that add up to needing more than the 7.5:1 stack to bet ratio that is the odds of flopping your set.

#### K_Kahne_Fan

##### Legend
I understand 10:1>9:1-, and I understand 10:1 means they have \$10 on the table and \$100+ in their stack. But the original poster (I think) and myself are looking at PP with a question as a max (BB) bet, not a min (stack) bet as you (and others) are suggesting.

...How many times the big blind should I be willing to go pre flop?

The OP and I are speaking in regards to justifying PP's to the xBB bets, however, you (and others) are speaking of betting PP's with regards to ratio of villan's stack. So in essence I should focus more on how much I may get from villans stack (10:1) as apposed to how much I will lose from mine (xBB)?

However, my 1st Q to you was; if villan bets out \$10 and has \$50 stacked behind (5:1) we wouldn't call? But if he has \$10 + \$200 (20:1) we would? I understand your long term ideal plan:

for a net loss of \$3,350
for a net gain of +16,000

But that would be if everything were to play exactly right. As we know in poker it will not always play exactly right...

So, shouldn't we try to take their \$50 if we can, instead of losing \$200 because it's right?

#### K_Kahne_Fan

##### Legend
BTW, these are not meant to be argumentative if they sound that way. My posts are truly for my (and maybe others) learning purposes.

J

#### jeffred1111

##### Visionary
The OP and I are speaking in regards to justifying PP's to the xBB bets, however, you (and others) are speaking of betting PP's with regards to ratio of villan's stack. So in essence I should focus more on how much I may get from villans stack (10:1) as apposed to how much I will lose from mine (xBB)?

However, my 1st Q to you was; if villan bets out \$10 and has \$50 stacked behind (5:1) we wouldn't call? But if he has \$10 + \$200 (20:1) we would? I understand your long term ideal plan:

for a net loss of \$3,350
for a net gain of +16,000

But that would be if everything were to play exactly right. As we know in poker it will not always play exactly right...

So, shouldn't we try to take their \$50 if we can, instead of losing \$200 because it's right?

This is pretty difficult to understand and is the mark of a poker player that is no longer a beginner but an advanced beginner: the immediate results do not matter, what does matter is how EV (and how much) a certain play is. For example, if we stack the guy that has 50\$ and put out a 10\$ bet, fine, but the other 8-9 times we do not, we lose that 10\$, wich means that we are actually losing money (!!!). If that guy has 300\$ and the bet is still 10\$, if we can get more than 100 of his stack, that it is a +EV proposition. Draw poker gives a very good foundation on the necessary odds (and implied odds) needed to make a certain play. Let's say there is 200 in the pot and the bet is 30\$, you have 4 to the nut flush and you know you'll never get outdrawn (theoritical: other guy stands pat with his lower flush for example). The odds are good enough to chase that flush since you're about 1:5 to make it. If opposing guy also draw one and the bet is still 30\$, but there is only 110\$ in the pot, we might fold, because there's not enough money and he might outdraw us (we know he has two pairs and is looking to fill to a FH), plus, the times we hit, he might not pay us off, thus implied odds are pretty thin. If we have a low straight and stand pat, the same situation apply, we are giving away reverse implied odds if opponent hits after we called his raise. Nothing ever goes according to plan in poker, but what is always there is the cold hard math and learning not to overestimate implied odds is a huge part of increasing your winrate.

The same thing regulates bluffing or c-beting. Sure, when we c-bet, we will not take the pot down all the time, but if it works more than 50% of the time and we do it everytime, it is +EV (if we simplify it in terms of opponent folds, we win, opponent calls/raise, we abandon ship and lose). Might seem spewy everytime we do it, but it is not. Calling with PP pre might not seem spewy, but it sometimes is very much.

But, at the same time, if you're still a significant winner, there are much bigger holes to plug than set-mining with incorrect odds since it is not a situation that comes as often as, say, calling from the blinds every time it is limped or playing crap hands OOP.

#### aliengenius

##### Cardschat Elite
However, my 1st Q to you was; if villan bets out \$10 and has \$50 stacked behind (5:1) we wouldn't call? But if he has \$10 + \$200 (20:1) we would? I understand your long term ideal plan:

for a net loss of \$3,350
for a net gain of +16,000

But that would be if everything were to play exactly right. As we know in poker it will not always play exactly right...

So, shouldn't we try to take their \$50 if we can, instead of losing \$200 because it's right?

I really don't know how else to explain it to you. You don't call the \$10 if he only has \$50 because you would be calling more money than you can win long term. Do you understand that when you don't hit the set you lose the \$10? You are going to lose \$75 (\$10 x 7.5 times you miss) for every \$50 (stack x the one time you hit) you make: that's -EV.

(btw, I (and the author of the article posted) made a mistake in the math: you will flop a set only 118 times every 1,000 NOT 133 times)