How to Play a Small Pocket Pair in Texas Holdem Poker Online
A small pocket pair (a pair dealt to your hand) is always good to see, because it’s a hand you can do something with if you need to. For the purposes of this article, I am calling a small pair a pair of twos, threes, fours, fives or sixes. The article details four different ways to play a small pair.
It’s important to play a small pocket pair carefully, because a lot of money can be lost with these sorts of hands too. In fact, the ability to avoid be involved with pots with your pocket pair is as important as winning. When playing online poker tournaments or any kind of Texas Hold ’em poker online, not losing is as important as winning.
When you should go all in with a small pair
You should consider going all in with your small pair in the following circumstances:
- You want to take a 55:45 race with a player you think has overcards. You will be most likely to want to take a 55:45 race if your stack is so small that you will soon be blinded out if you don’t double up or take the blinds.
- You are squeeze playing two players you think have overcards. This can be risky in case one of them has a medium pair, and they might call.
- You are in the blinds and responding to a button raise. Button raise hands – bets in position – have a wide range, and an all in from the blinds can represent all sorts of strong hands, so the raiser may well fold. Again, this is risky, because if you are called, you are at best 55:45.
- You are in big blind, and small blind has raised you. This play will often force a fold.
Essentially, don’t go all in with a small pair unless you are prepared to take a 55:45 chance of losing the staked amount. Also, don’t go in if you put the other player on a higher pair – your odds of winning tumble to 1:8 if that happens.
When you should flat call with a small pair
You should flat call, or limp, with a small pair in the following circumstances:
- You are in early position and have plenty of chips. This way you have the chance of getting into a pot cheaply and can easily fold to a big raise.
- You are in later position and the pot is already quite large. If the bet is less than one eighth of the pot, pot odds dictate you should make the call.
When you should raise with a small pair
A raise with a small pair can be a good strategy under the following conditions:
- You are in small blind. A flat call here will do you little good, as the chances of three overcards are extremely high.
- You are on the button. A pair on the button is a raising hand.
- You are slightly out of position, but you wish to take position by a raise to one or two callers. A pair in position is a strong hand because if everyone else checks, you can bet on a flop even if you don’t hit it.
When you should fold a small pair
You should fold a small pair when:
- You are in early position and your chip stack is dwindling, but you don’t want to take a race yet.
- There are several players in a pot you’ve called in to, and someone makes a big raise. You don’t want a 55:45 race at this point.
- You are raising to force a fold or take position and you get re-raised. Again, unless you want to take a race.
- When you put the other player on a bigger pair. If you go ahead and play although you suspect your opponent has a bigger pair, you’ll kick yourself if you’re proved right.
Playing a small pocket pair in Texas Hold ’em online poker
If the above tips are followed, you can hopefully avoid getting involved in hands with your pocket pair that will lead you to lose money. Overplaying a pocket pair is a common mistake among people who are new to poker. Remember, the chance of at least one overcard on the flop to a pair of sixes is 97%.