Playing Pairs in the Hole

Playing pairs in the hole incorrectly is a big mistake that causes many players to lose large amount of money. You should remember that if you do not make trips when an over card flops - especially if the over card is an ace - you are in a problem. This is particularly true in a multi-way pot. For example you have

And are against four rivals, a king flops and someone bets into you. If you showed strength before the flop, you are almost always beaten. Furthermore there is a little chance for your improvement. The correct play is to throw your hand away. If no one bets and it is checked to you, go ahead and bet. It is likely that everyone will fold or perhaps someone will call with a hand like middle pair.

The exception is if the bettor is the kind of player who will fairly go for a check-raise if he flops a hand as strong as a high pair. In this case, you can't fold your hand and it is best to instead raise because he is on the draw and you want to limit out the field.

If you were having a pair like JJ, TT or smaller, it is essential to bet into most flops, there are many over cards that can beat you. However, if an over card hits on the flop and you are check-raised, then you should throw away your hand. You can even wait for the turn card. (This is one of those loose calls we mentioned previously in the text.) But unless you make a set, you should fold on fourth street if your rival bets.

If an over card does not hit (thereby giving you an over pair) and you are raised now you have the option either to re-raise or just call (or perhaps raise on the later street). However, after you bet if there are one more caller between you and the raiser then it becomes pertinent to make it three bets. By re-raising you are trying to make the pot two-handed game.

However, in heads-up situation you should not simply throw your hand away when an over card flops. For example you hold

And the flop comes

And your rival bets. If he is likely to bet a ten as a king, then you should further continue to play. Here you can even raise if you believe that there is any chance where your rival can bet a draw. But at the same time you need to know that this play seems to be dangerous and to win the pot you should certainly know your rival very well.

Furthermore, you can semi-bluff with your small pair in the hole. You will actually be semi-bluffing as you see there is very little chance of improvement in it. You are just betting into over cards in the expectation of folding the other medium pairs.
For example you have

And the flop comes

If you bet, your rivals with 99, TT, JJ, QQ will likely fold - especially if he plays "weak tight." (Even if you cannot make anyone fold, it is correct to bet your hand so that players with over cards cannot get a free card.) If however someone else bets and you are check-raised, you should fold in such cases unless the pot is heads-up and you are against an aggressive player who at any time might knock you out from the pot.

Also keep in mind that automatically going to the end is a losing game when you have pocket pairs in these cases. On the contrary, there are rivals who will make these loose calls and their bad play will finally make you win the pot.


Playing trash Hands

For example, in the big blind you hold a hand like

And get a free card against three or four rivals playing at the game.
And the flop comes

How will you play this "trash" hands? Will it be correct to bet so as to avoid giving a free card to your rival from beating you? Or is this a situation of check and fold?

The answer to the above question is: It is a close decision between betting, checking and calling, and checking and folding, If your kicker is good - that is, if it is greater than the queen - then certainly a bet would be correct. But if you do bet, don't bet again unless you improve your hand. If the hand is not improved then be ready to fold your hand on fourth street.
However, in the same flop you have

Then how would you play your hand?
As you can beat all the middle pairs therefore you should bet on the flop and if you are not raised, bet again on fourth street. Conversely if the hand goes to the river, all depending upon the board and your rivals' play, it may be best to check. Moreover if you are raised on the turn then you should fold.

Again, let's say the flop is same as before but it includes two suited cards. Now two tens should be played differently. If it is short-handed pot, then bet it out. If many players are in, bet only if one of your ten matches the given suit; otherwise, it is better to check. One significant reason to hold ten of the given suit is that you don't want to be in the position of making trips when one of your rivals makes a flush.

One exception to the above play is if you are against many players who will play any ace, you should check and fold any pair below aces if an ace flops, unless the pot odds represents any chasing.

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