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How to Play Small Pocket Pairs

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Small pocket pairs are around 22 and 66 and although they may seem strong they are not and they are usually the reason why many inexperienced poker hold'em players have trouble because they tend to overestimate them.

Before the flop, small pocket pairs are better than most other hands, provided your opponent does not have a higher pair, but the hand can get quite complicated if it does not improve after the flop.

This article will tell you how to play small pocket pairs.

What is the biggest problem with small pocket pairs?

When you have small pocket pairs, the flop will probably bring cards and as a result you'll have an underpair to the board. In this situation, it will be difficult for you to determine if you are ahead or not.

In case you bet and get called, this will not provide much information about your situation in the game since the other player may have a higher pair, a drawing hand or other possible hands. You won't find out what your opponent is holding just with the bet and call and, besides, it could be costly to bet on the turn and river in order to get more information about your opponent's hand.

Small pocket pairs and sets

The real potential of small pocket pairs lies in the fact that you can make a set with them on the flop, that is to make 3-of-a-kind. This is different to trips because in that case you make 3-of-a-kind with one of your cards and two community cards. You can win a lot of money with a set because it will be difficult for the other players to suspect you have one, which makes it a hidden and strong hand.

Your aim when you hold a small pocket pair is to hit a set on the flop, otherwise you should fold and avoid playing poker after the flop to see if you are ahead. If you choose to play the small pocket pair and your hand does not improve post-flop, you could lose a lot of money.

Pot odds and the mathematics of hitting a set

The odds of hitting a set on the flop with a pocket pair are 7 to 1. This are not the best odds because you'll make a set in every eight flops you see and if you follow pot odds, you'll see that you are not quite likely to get good enough odds before the flop to call and see the flop.

According to pot odds, you'll pay too much for something that is not worth it because it does not happen frequently. However, you should consider the implied odds you'll get from hitting a set, which make it worth it to play small pocket pairs.

When we talk about implied odds we mean how much you expect to win if you get a set and in this case implied odds are enormous. Many players lose all they have to sets when they catch a good part of the flop since they usually don't suspect that the other player has one.

The strategy to play sets and small pocket pairs

Now you know you can win a lot of money if you make a set and you need to find the way to see the flop without spending much. Your goal is to see the flop as cheaply as possible in order to have better pot odds before the flop.

The more raising there is before the flop, the worse your pot odds will be and as a result it could be really unprofitable to call to try to make a set because you could lose a lot in the long run. In general, limping in from any position in order to try to see the flop cheaply is not a bad idea. It is also not a bad idea to call a raise when it is three or four times the size of the BB. However, remember that your implied odds are really enormous after you hit a set, which means you can afford to pay more to see the flop.

In general, it is a good idea to call up to 7BB raises before the flop since your reward will be quite great when you make your set.

When you have a small pocket pair, don't be scared to call up to 7BB raises and even a little more, you could win big if you hit a set.

Advanced small pocket pair strategy

When you have a strong post-flop game, you can take advantage of raising pre-flop if you hold pocket pairs. As a result, you'll have the initiative in the hand and you could win a few extra uncontested pots plus some big ones when you make the set.

On the other hand, if you don't have much experience and you are just learning to play small pocket pairs, the easier thing for you to do is to call before the flop instead of raising. You can win money with both methods, so you should choose the one you feel more comfortable with. Certainly raising before the flop when you hold small pocket pairs can turn out to be more +EV, but this works only if you have enough experience.

Implied odds and sets

When you are playing pocket pairs and sets, you should be aware of the stack sizes of the other poker Texas Hold'em players, as well as the size of your own stack. Your implied odds will be smaller if your opponents are short stacked since in case you hit the set you'll win less money. Likewise, if your opponents have large stacks then your implied odds for hitting the set will be great.

It's a simple rule: the smaller the stack of your opponent, the lower implied odds you get and the bigger the stack, the greater your implied odds.

As a result, you'll have more room to work with when you call raises pre-flop. If the other players have short stacks then you should avoid calling raises and try to see the flop without spending much money while when your opponents have large stacks you should call a little extra more to try to make your set since you have good implied odds.

How to play small pocket pairs evaluation

Implied odds are the center of the strategy to play small pocket pairs. It is a concept you should be familiar with since it explains the reasoning behind pocket pair strategy.

This article is about how to see cheap flops holding small pocket pairs and only continue with the hand if you make a set. If this is all you've learned, don't worry since it is likely to help you save/earn a lot of money in future games.

Don't be scared to call big raises pre-flop holding small pocket pairs, but be ready to fold if you do not make a set. This is a simple but useful strategy with any pair between 22 and 66.

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