NL Texas Holdem: Playing Small Pairs

AA Double suited By AA Double suited, 29th Sep 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
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Playing Small Pairs For Set Value in No Limit Texas Hold em

Playing Small Pairs in No Limit Texas Holdem

By small pairs, i mean pairs under 10. Lets face it, pair of 99 is a nice starting hand heads up, but if you are going to see flop with multiple opponents, there is 81% change of flop containing a card higher then 9. With many players seeing the flop, there is high change you have been out flopped, with little change to improve your hand.

So what i like to do with pairs 22-99 is to play them for set value. That means trying to enter the pot cheaply, and flopping the set (trips). You only flop set 12% or 1:7½, but when you do, you have monster hand. Set versus over pair / top pair is one of the best situation you can have. Versus over pair if all chips go in on the flop you are 9:1 favorite to scoop the pot, vs top pair 19:1. So if your opponents are willing to put lots of chips in the pot with top pair, top kicker types of hands, playing sets can be very profitable.

When you are thinking about entering the pot with small pocket pairs, you sud think about your position, table dynamics, and stack sizes.


Early position, i don't usually play at all, unless there is already limping going on, and table is very passive. Middle position, if there is limpers in the pot you sud join the pot fur sure. Late position absolutely join the pot, this is the best spot if you can get in cheaply. If there are no limpers, this is a good spot to steal steal the blinds, small pairs are good for that, if you get called, there is still 12% change of hitting the set. Also if the blinds called lets say with 2 face cards he will only flop a pair 1/3, so if continue betting on the flop you will take take pot don most of the time. If you get raised, folding small pair is pretty easy.

Table dynamics:

Before you decide to limp with your pair, look at players on your left, if there is maniacs who like raise every hand, you might want to wait for a bigger hand yo enter the pot.

Stack sizes:

To play small pairs profitable you need to think about the stack sizes. Rule of the thumb is that you will need 1:20 implied odds to make the play profitable. Less if there are multiple opponents in the pot. Why 1:20? You might wonder. Because when you do flop a set, not every time will you get enough action to cover the expenses caused by the times you don't hit it. And while set is monster hand, you will get drawn out sometimes.

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