Playing Big Pairs

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Tips for Playing High Pocket Pairs i.e. 1010+ 

Pocket Jacks - AKA Fishhooks

Pocket Jacks - AKA "Fishhooks"

Every poker player loves to see a big pocket pair like AA, KK or QQ in Texas Holdem. Indeed, these three hand combinations are the best starting hands to have preflop in Texas Holdem and give you a massive statistical advantage over your opponents pre-flop. 

However, the manner in which you execute these hands is crucial to a big payoff day. Every player will get paid now and again with these hands, however, the difference between a good player and a bad player is that the former will learn to extract much better value from the hand in the long-term (aka making more money).  

Playing Big Pocket Pairs Pre-Flop 

First off, do not assume you’re hand in unbeatable. While it’s true you probably have the best hand preflop (especially in 6-handed games), the hand is bound to a flop which will completely change the odds and underdogs in the game. Therefore, playing high pocket pairs properly pre-flop and eliminating the limpers is crucial to setting up post-flop play.  

Each time you get dealt a premium pocket hand you should be betting pre-flop 3-4xBBs plus an extra 1BB for each limper.  Ideally you’ll limit the number of players in the hand to 2 – this is from my experience what extracts maximum value, without running into trouble with too many limpers.  If you get re-raised, just flat-call with your 1010,JJ; but re-raise with Queens, Kings and Aces (sometimes I just flat-call Queens in 10-handed). 

Post-Flop Play 

With a hand like AA you should always be betting and raising at every street (assuming you only have 1-3 opponents in th hand).  This is done in order to prevent poker players on draws or players with several outs. You do not want to give anyone the correct odds to call for any straights, flushes or drawing hands.   

On the final few streets (turn and river) with any of the above big pairs, you should continue to build the pot unless you are quite sure that your are no longer ahead. Inevitably, if you’re unable to improve your pre-flop hand and there is plenty of action on the turn and river, it is quite likely you are no longer ahead. A single pair on the river is by no means a monster hand, however the manner in which you play and carry through your continuation bets largely depends on your reading of your opponents, the range of hands you can put them on, nd the draws available on the board. 

When playing KK or QQ, always be wary of overcards (i.e. A) on the table. Many players say you should never fold KK preflop, as you still have a number of outs. A good way to play both these hands however, even with an overcard on the table, is to lead out a with a strong cbet (about half-pot to 3/4 should do)  and see where you stand after your opponents respond. Ultimately, you are unlikely to win a monumental pot in this situation, and you should definately be prepared to back down to agression if a better hand is on the table. Do not let curiosity or loose play prevent you from folding. 

Biggest Mistakes for New Players with High Pocket Pairs 

One of the biggest mistakes amatuer poker players and many regular player do with big pocket pairs is tend to slowplay at every opportunity. Although it’s ok sometimes to slow-play such big hands, especially against loose opponents who you are confident you can check-raise or trap, the actually risks involved in doing so slow are too high (for both short-handed and big handed tables). Always raise the pre-flop bet regardless of your position.  Don’t worry if everyone folds, it’s much better than letting limpers getting into the pot and losing to ridiculous hands such as A2 suited.  You should be happy knowing you are playing profitably in the long-term and they arn’t. 

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