One of the most common questions, leaks and misunderstandings at the microstakes levels revolves around how to play your pocket pairs, especially when out of position. I'll tackle this question here, so read on.
5 tips for playing pocket pairs out of position in No-Limit Hold’em
#1 – Be realistic with your implied odds
Just because someone raised on the button doesn’t mean you have implied odds for their whole stack. If your opponent steals 30% of the time, how often do you think he’s going to put his whole stack in post-flop? Not often. So think again next time you call 44 in the small blind facing a raise on the button.
#2 – Look for multi-way pots where you have relative position
If there are 2 or more players in the pot preflop and you get to close the action (to the left of the last raise) with a pocket pair, this is typically a very profitable spot and you should make the call. You have two big ways to win the pot post-flop with better odds at a bigger stack: Hit the Set, or check-raise dry boards. Because you can expect the initial raiser to c-bet a lot of flops, you’ll have position on the rest of the players to see their decision relative to this continuation bet. If everyone folds, can be a great spot for a check-raise!
#3 – Almost never get involved in a 3-bet pot
It is almost never profitable to flat call a 3-bet preflop with a small pocket pair out of position. Because 3bet flops will turn into all-in pots more often, you simply will not hit your set often enough (meaning, you will be folding too many hands post-flop) to make it a profitable call. Don’t be tempted!
#4 – Consider Set vs Set
Set vs Set happens all the time, especially if you’re an online grinder playing thousands of hands per day. When you hit sets with small pocket pairs and strong players are 4 and 5 betting you post-flop – consider making the very tough folds.
#5 – Open them frequently
And while pocket pairs can be a tricky hand to play, the most money you’ll make with them is just c-betting flops and taking the pot. So when the action is on you and nobody has raised, put in those extra bets preflop and build up a good pot to hit the set, or take down with a c-bet.
If you run a report on your poker hand history software and see that you’re not making money will all your pocket pairs, or not making as much as you should, try these tips for a month and compare your results.
Photo Credit: Play Among Friends Paf | Flickr