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Folding Small Pocket Pairs - Late Stages

    • maythany
      Joined: 18.10.2011 Posts: 1,195

      Is it ever +EV to play small pocket pairs such as 22-66?

      In a recent tournament, I had a pair of 4s and I was sitting in early position (5players left out of 9). The blinds were already 100-200 and I was thinking about raising with this hand. I then had this feeling that the two short stacks are going to push all in. So I folded the pair and I was right, one player pushed with K :diamond: 10 :heart: and the other player called with K :spade: 9 :diamond: .

      Long story short, I ended up hitting Four of a Kind on the turn and river. I started criticizing my play, but I then realize that it was a good play on my part.

      Anyways, what are your opinions on this matter?


  • 4 replies
    • M0na1isa
      Joined: 05.02.2012 Posts: 133
      There are certain rules in many guides that I'm sure you've already read.
      But imo it really depends on how you play them takes alot of judgement call in different situation.
      What I did was kept record of my late stage small pairs then decided to just keep them for late position, bet if no callers were behind me, call a bet with 1-20 rule, and call all-in 1-4. That has been working good for me so far.
    • inlovewithamsterdam
      Joined: 08.07.2009 Posts: 671
      C. Moshman says that you can raise speculative hands if you know you're likely to take the blinds without contest. So if you're in late or even middle position, and you've got tight, weak players behind you (that will not play back with anything other than the nuts) I'd say you can raise.

      You also need to pay attention to stack sizes. If one of the players behind you has a short stack (e.g. x2.5 the size of your raise) then it will not be profitable to raise with those small pockets. You will often have to call due to the odds, or fold out of fear of losing chips, both of which are not optimal.

      I noticed in your post how you scrutinized your play because "you ended up hitting four of a kind". Short-term results are not important in poker and you need to make sure you remember this. If you had 72o instead in this hand and you open-raised in Early position, got two callers and the flop was 7K7 - it doesn't mean that raising there with the 72o is a profitable play / good decision. This is a vital poker concept and can lead to many mistakes in the future, so it's important to remember at all times: short-term results are meaningless.

      Read "The Poker Mindset" by Hilger and Taylor. I'm sure it will improve your game tremendously. Plus, if you've got any SNG questions, don't hesitate to ask them on my blog.
    • kurrkabin
      Joined: 12.10.2010 Posts: 5,976
      Hi, maythany !

      You need to take few things into consideration when trying to pick the best line with a certain hand(low pockets in our case). I will suggest you post a certain hand history, because speaking in general might get you in a trouble.

      We need to see who we are facing. Effective stack sizes matter a lot! Previous history, table image as well. Let's get to some examples.

      Let's say you are sitting in late position - CO/BTN or SB with a hand like pocket 33 and the effective stack sizes are 13-15bb. People yet to act are all tight unknowns. That means that they are unlikely to call preflop or 3bet lite, so all the action will end preflop- they will either push over your raise or fold. Having these reads in mind I believe that raise/folding is our preferred option here as it suits risk:reward ratio the best. Pushing will also be + EV, but we risk putting in our tournament life in risk (flipping at best) with still comfortable stack size.

      Vs someone who is likely to re-steal lite or call preflop a lot(which we don't want, as will have to cbet many boards as bluff-hard to flop a set in holdem), I will prefer open pushing. These will be usually regs or loose passive/aggro fishes. Pushing will almost always be + EV, so we are fine taking this play. If the regs are good, they know your range will capped, but unless some of them starts calling/spiting you of with some very loose non-sense range, we will be ok.

      Usually folding in early position. Also be aware of shortstacks/big stacks etc as these are likely to play back if you raise.

      Don't open limp low pairs in late game, don't call on raises for set mining with shallow stack sizes etc.

    • ghaleon
      Joined: 17.10.2007 Posts: 5,965
      Just to add to kurrkabin comment that small pocket pairs are basically worst hands to play raise-fold when opponents behind are likely folding or raising. Because what you have at that point? Blockers to low hands? Not very helpful blockers :D

      Obviously different case if plan is to call some smaller stack shove and fold to some bigger ones and so on.