Small pocket pairs

Small pairs are often tricky to play.

naked strip poker babe Playing casino games is very tricky, because the odds are always stacked in favor of the house. Therefore itís important to know as many tricks, tips and strategies as possible. The benefit of playing small pairs is when you hit a concealed set and win a big pot from an unsuspecting opponent. The problem is that it costs each time you miss.

Even though these small pocket pairs are not starting hands you should invest money in, they may be played in some cases. It is not normally recommended to play small pocket pairs because when they do not improve, which is most of the time, the best you can wish for is a coin flip.

In many situations playing small pocket pairs has a negative expected value. They will rarely improve due to the small number of outs that they have. But there are times when a coin flip is exactly what you need, and when playing them aggressively is the right move.

One of the best spot to play small pocket pairs is in the late stages of a multi table poker tournament with a high buy-in. Here the high buy-in is to represent the fact that you are playing against experienced players. In low buy-in tourneys (also called donkaments), players do not really understand what they do and the move described below has a bit less effectiveness.

Here is how to play them when you are already past the bubble, but you are nearly card dead and your stack is slowly eroding by the rising blinds and antes. You know that if you do not make a move soon, elimination is at the corner. In such spot, pushing it all in with your small pocket pair is the correct thing to do.

Very often you will get called by a player with AK, AQ or worse, and this is the coin flip situation. Else you will get called by a player with a higher pocket pair than yours and this is where it is far worse than a coin flip: you would be a so-called underdog with about 20% chances to prevail.

The average of either getting a coin flip or being an underdog is not fantastic. But given that you want to postpone elimination, this is what you should hope for. Either you leave at the next hand or you get more chips to last much longer and to wait for the next good spot.

When you make your move with your small pocket pair, you must be the one initiating the all-in and not the one calling it. By being the aggressor, the direct benefit is fold equity, i.e. the possibility that your opponent just folds and donates the pot to you. But if you make the mistake of calling instead, you would not get any fold equity at all, proving that this would be a worse play.

Similarly to tourneys, small pocket pairs are to be normally avoided in ring games, but there are exceptions especially in deep stacks contests. Your objective is to make a set on the flop and the practice is called set mining by poker specialists. This is a special strategy requiring a lot of know how, but it can be the foundation for a profitable strategy if well executed.

The theory of set mining is based on implied odds, i.e. the potential profit to be made in future streets, not just at the current betting stage. While it has negative EV to play your small pocket pairs at the pre flop stage, the potential (large) profits when you hit a set are what make the strategy worth trying.

When you call with your small pocket pairs looking for get a set at the flop, you will only make that set a small fraction of the time. This is a strategy where patience is crucial, and the ability to swallow small loss after small loss in the hope of making a big profit later down the road.

Indeed the few times when you make your set, chances are high that you yield a large pot, because and this is the beauty of set mining, sets from a small pocket pair are the best concealed monsters in Texas Holdem poker. Hence when you hit the long awaited set, your objective is to put your opponent all in and to take all his chips.

Set mining is not as simple as it sounds, and there is a delicate balance that you must master in order to make it profitable. One problem is to get your opponent to call your bets. He must have a strong hand when you hit, which is not always the case. And when he calls he may have a stronger hand than yours such as a higher set or a draw that he hits. This issue will cut into the profitability of the set mining strategy.

Hoping to get all of your opponent's stack each time you hit your set is extremal. But focusing on maximizing your profits when you make your set and minimizing your losses when you miss is the way to become a master at set mining.

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