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Playing Small Pocket Pairs

by: Ultimate Poker Bonus

When playing small pocket pairs (22 - 77) I generally play them as if I have a strong hand. In the past I would limp in only to have multiple callers and without hitting a set would end up folding and conceding my blind.

As in any hand of poker you must evaluate the players already in the hand and try to determine what they are holding, as well as realizing your position.

Playing Small Pocket Pairs in Early Position:

If I am the first to act I always make the standard raise of 3.5 - 4 x's the big blind to put the pressure on the remaining players left to act. In this position I am in a win/win situation as I would like at least one caller, but always happy to take down the blinds especially in the later stages of tournaments as the blinds increase.

Because I am in early position and early to act, I again find myself in the drivers seat. If a tight player calls my raise and the flop blanks without any pictures, I fire at the pot with at least a half pot bet. With my opponent being tight I know that he probably didn't catch any piece of the pot, and has to lay his hand down only getting 2-1 pot odds. If he calls, and the turn is the highest card on the board I fire again with a half pot bet representing the highest card on the board, and generally take the pot then and there.

If a loose player calls my pre flop raise, I generally check in hopes he will hang himself. If I have any type of draw, or the flop pairs I re-raise and try to take the pot right there. If he checks and a big card hits on the turn I fire at the pot with at least a half pot bet.

Playing Small Pocket Pairs in Middle and Late Position:

I prefer playing these types of hands closer to the button as I get to see what type of player is giving action pre and post flop. If a tight player raises - Fold the Cards! Odds are he has a decent hand and acts before you, and if any type of good flop hits he will bet and you will have to fold. Generally I will fold all small pockets to a raiser pre-flop.

If one or more players limp, I will generally again make a standard raise and play the flop similar to being in early position. If the action gets to me and no-one has made a move I fire at the pot.

If a loose player raises pre-flop, I will generally re-raise with at least a 2.5's x pot bet and steal it right then and there.


No doubt you should have the best hand, but be careful of the straight and flush draw especially against the loose player. If I hit the set and first to act I always make a value bet to try to keep as many players to the turn as possible to build the pot before making my move. Give the loose player good pot odds (at least 3-1) on the turn, but take them away for the river.

If a tight player is in the hand, and a big flop hits, I will check in hopes he bets (and he will) and then check the turn as well hoping he even bettered his hand. Many times I will re-raise the turn but still offer at least 2-1 pot odds (half the pot) and he will have trouble laying down his hand. Best advice here is don't over bet the pot. Great poker players make great lay-downs, and while you want to get your chips in pot, if you have no callers you win nothing.

The above strategies are based on my table image of being a tight somewhat aggressive player. If I find that I have been playing to many hands, and getting to much action I will generally fold small pockets to build my tight image back up. You must also calculate your players chip stack to see if they will be pot committed, or already pot committed before trying to take down a pot without having the best hand.

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