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Pocket pairs...

  • 1 reply
    • pzhon
      Joined: 17.06.2010 Posts: 1,151
      That's an open-ended question so the following isn't close to complete.

      Low pocket pairs are often overrated. It is true that 22 is a slight favorite over AK, but 22 is also behind two random hands, and you have an information disadvantage in most pots. Someone playing overcards knows whether they have hit, but you don't know whether your pair is still best.

      In early levels, you might try to set-mine. You hope to see the flop cheaply, and then play a large pot only when you flop a set. One problem is that you sometimes lose anyway against a flush or straight or higher set. Another is that you often do not get paid off after you hit. Another problem is that you might pay to see the flop, and then someone might raise or reraise so that you have to pay even more, or fold.

      You should be much more inclined to overcall than to call, and to overlimp than limp. This means there will be more players who can hit one good pair to pay you off, and the pot will start larger so that you get paid off more. Also, you should prefer to call when you have position, and when you are getting good immediate odds which reduce the implied odds you require. You can expect better implied odds against an early position raiser than a late position raiser.

      You should be much more inclined to play 66-99 than 22-55. Even if you don't often get to showdown unimproved, the medium pairs will win more when you do, and that matters. Medium pairs also make more straight draws, and higher 1-card flushes. Sometimes you can find a profitable postflop call unimproved with a medium pair when you would have to fold a low pair.

      The 5-10 rule suggests that you can call a raise in position with a low pair when it is at most 5% of your stack, and up to 10% in very favorable circumstances. However, it appears that the 5-10 rule is too loose. Some players suggest a 3-8 rule instead. In most SNGs, the stacks start short enough that it is hard for someone to raise to under 3% of your stack. Remember that you are not calling only to hit. You should also try to take some pots your opponents don't seem to want.

      In some games, it is profitable to open-limp with low pairs. You should be more inclined to do this in earlier position. In later position, open-raising is often a better alternative. If players often raise after limpers, then open-limping may be unprofitable. Check your database filtered to times you limped in to see whether you are making a profit with those limps. If you limp in and get raised, sometimes it is right to fold, and sometimes to call. Check how calling is doing versus folding in your database.