Professional Poker Tips - How to Play Pocket Pairs Like a Pro

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Professional Poker Tips on Pocket Pairs

In a limit Texas Holdem game with a full table I believe that many players value pocket pairs much more than they really should. Many have watched too much TV and see that a professional poker player puts in a big raise with a small pair (under 7's) so they believe they should come in with a raise as well.

What these players are failing to recognize is that in this no limit Texas Holdem tournament they're watching on TV the professional poker player is putting in a raise that may be 4x or more the size of the big blind at a point in the tournament where they need to steal blinds to survive. In a limit game where your raise is limited to 2x the big blind and there is no danger of your opponent losing all of his chips (because it's not a tournament with the blinds increasing) you're really asking to go broke playing small and even medium pairs in this way.

Bottom line, you have to be much more patient.

Before reading this article I recommend reviewing the following articles:

  • Poker Starting Hands
  • Know Your Competition

Pro Strategy in Limit poker

In early position:

Based on the theory discussed above I don't like medium or small pairs up front. I'm likely to raise with tens and better up front and try and narrow down the field but other than that, in early position I'm going to pass with these hands in a limit Texas Holdem game. I'm likely to raise with the big pairs (think queens and up) since ideally I'll go up against 2-4 people and no more. I don't want to limp in with these hands and let 6-way action occur where someone catches a silly 2 pair.

Loosen up in middle position:

In middle position the medium pairs are going to come out since their value goes up. In fact I'm likely to raise here with a medium pair hoping to steal the blinds. High pairs (Jacks and up) I might limp in with or raise depending on how I'm trying to mix up my game. It really depends on my image. If I'm in a game and my opponents think of me as a professional poker player I have to mix it up. I'm still going to pass on the small pairs since I'm still likely to get someone calling behind me no matter how I play the hand.

Raise in late position:

In a high stakes limit Texas Holdem game with professional poker players it becomes necessary to steal the blinds. As such, in late position when I open the pot (first in the pot) I like to raise with any medium or small pair. You can isolate the play and try and steal the blinds right there.

The reason you can't do this in early position is that there are just too many potentially strong hands that will call you. If you try to implement this strategy with multiple players in front of you already in the pot or in early position you're basically trying to get busted. There are simply too many poker players who likely have stronger hands than yours who will be involved.

Consider the situation you put yourself in if you raise with a small or medium pair in early position and get called preflop. What is your action on the flop? An immediate bet? Perhaps. If called though you're pretty much dead in the water with your pair that can't even beat the board unless you get lucky and turn a set.

Now you're committed 3 small bets (2 preflop bets and a bet on the flop) with a small pair in an attempt to win 1 � small bets. Your strategy needs to work more than 2x as often as you get called. Now in a short handed game I think this is possible but in a full game this strategy works less often.

In the blind if I'm first in I'm likely to call a raise with any pair. I can conceal my hand if it's a big pair and slow play if I want and hopefully get a check raise somewhere along the line. If it's a small pair and I suspect a steal I'm going to re-raise right away.

Tough poker players intimidate and I like to put my opponents on the defensive. However, I'll mix up my strategy and call a good portion of the time as well. In this manner I'm only hoping to flop a set or likely to give my hand up. Naturally this is all assuming I don't have any tells on the player which prove otherwise. The game of Texas Holdem requires a large amount of versatility in your strategy in order to deal with the tougher opponents especially as they reach the advanced levels of play.

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