Playing small pairs

By Rafe Furst

The players are excited when they hit two pair because they know that they are in a good position to win the pot. But often, a 2 pairs is not as powerful as this may seem. This is especially true when these two pairs are two small pairs. This hand can appear to be a dominant hand on the flop, but you are still vulnerable.

For example, suppose that you ended up in a game of No-Limit Hold ' em. There is a raise standard of 4 times the BB to an intermediate position. You put the player on something like AK or perhaps 66, 77, 88, 99. Everyone fold to you on the button and you have 5 d - 7 d. You have a favourable position and a hand that could flop something very strong with several draws, so you decide to caller. The blinds fold and the flop comes 5 c - 7 h - Ks.

What is good. Not only do you have two pairs, but it is also likely that your opponent has hit part of this flop, something like top pair top kicker or maybe even an overpair. It begins with bet and you have to decide what action will be the best for you.

You might see players simply caller in this situation, but this is not the best game to do. When you have 2 small pairs and your opponent has an over-pair or top pair top kicker, you're not a huge favorite as you might think. Your opponent has 5 outs, leaving him a small draw. You are 75% favorite, but this is still not sufficient to justify a slowplay.

The best game is raiser to give a tough decision to make to your opponent. Many players overestimate even top or an overpair and go caller of raises or ins all. This gives you the chance to put all your money in being favorite. If you incur a badbeat, so be it.

It is possible that your raise do ensure that your opponent will fold and you will kill the action? Obviously, if he has a pair of J or Q, it may lie and you won't have any chance to win more, but anyway, you will no longer earn against this kind of hands. Your opponent will probably checker and folder on the turn or river. As Howard Lederer has mentioned in one of his last articles, bet the turn indicates to your opponent that this map has helped you in a way any. It will have to consider the fact that her pair is more good here.

There will be occasions where you floperez two small pairs and at the same time, your opponent flopera 2 big pairs or a set. When this will happen, you will need to resign yourself to lose your stack. In fact, you will lose your stack in several situations like these. If you are not ready to invest a lot of chips with this kind of hands, you will maximize probably not enough your better hands when you'll get.

When you will hold 2 pairs, play aggressively and invest all your money on the flop. This is the safest way to maximize your profits with a strong but vulnerable hand.

Rafe Furst