Poker Two Pair

Playing Poker Two Pair on fourth street certainly was not easy, and the comfort you have in playing this hand won’t improve all that much on fifth street.  There are, though, some pieces of advice I can give you to help you feel more comfortable in deciding whether to continue with this hand.

Of primary importance, course, are live cards.  You want many cards that you’d need to improve to a full house to be live.  With more than two of those cards dead, just check if you can and fold if it comes back to you, unless you hold a powerful pair (such as aces or kings) on the board, and you’re convinced you will win the pot or vastly narrow the field if you bet.

Another crucial factor in determining whether to proceed to sixth street with Poker Two Pair is the size of your Poker Two Pair.  Remember, you never want to play into a bigger Poker Two Pair when you see one on the board – even with live cards.  This is an important reminder, and it has saved me a lot of money.  When there’s a bigger pair on the board (assuming the order two cards to help that player are live) you want to foold and be done with the hand.  You’re an underdog to improve anyway, but you’re even more of an underdog when you are going up against a probable Poker Two Pair that is bigger than yours.  Just fold and wait until you have the better hand.

On the flip side, if you are poker player with a big Poker Two Pair, don’t be too intimidated by lower pairs.  If no more than two of the cards you need to improve are dead, go ahead and bet (or even raise) if it’s to you.  The fewer players the better, and, ideally, you’d like to win the hand right here on fifth street.

Because of the change in the betting limits, a bet here may actually be more beneficial to you than it was at fourth street.  Unless you has a pair on the board, you could bet only the minimum if no one had yet bet on fourth street.  But here, because the limits have increased to the maximum, a bet from you is more likely to scare off players than it was before.  So with a strong Poker Two Pair, force them out and narrow the field.  You’re hoping you will fill up, but if you don’t, a strong Poker Two Pair will frequently hold up as the number of players left decreases.

Playing Poker Two Pair is very confusing and nerve-wracking.  You have a good but not great hand.  Playing it too passively is one of the most common mistakes that even otherwise solid stud players make.  Despite my years of poker experience, even I am sometimes reluctant to play Poker Two Pairs as hard as I should –but if you do so you will win more money than you will lose.

Laying down Poker Two Pair can also be an incredibly difficult thing to do.  After all, you need only one more card to fill up.  That voice inside of you says, “Throw out those chips and let’s go for it!” “Going for it” with weaker Poker Two Pairs when there are indicators that your opponent could have you beaten or when there are too many dead cards will more often than not just result in your stack of chips disappearing quickly.  Wait for those big Poker Two Pairs with live cards, and when you get them, play them hard!

Quick Guide….
….to Poker Two Pair on Fifth Street:

  • RAISE if you feel that you have the best hand, unless more than two of your cards are dead.
  • CALL if you are in a game with loose opponents and you feel that a raise will be ineffective in driving them out.
  • FOLD if you see a higher pair on the board than your Poker Two Pair or if more than two of your cards to improve are gone.


Folding Poker Two Pair can be quite difficult, but folding a pair – especially a big pair – is no piece of cake either.  For instance, let’s say you start out with pocket aces, but then you get three lousy cards.  So you tell yourself, “Hey, I’ve still got a good pair here – so I’ll get that Poker Two Pair or trips, and maybe I’ll even fill up! I’m at a casino, so I might as well gamble, right?” Most of the time, the answer to that question ought to be “No!”

Many hands that start out great simply do not improve, and you must fold them.  The majority of the time, in fact, this is a hand that you will fold.  Still, there are some instance when you can proceed past fifth street with a pair, so folding should not be automatic.  In this section, we’ll look at the times that arise when you can play this hand.

When to Play 

Of course, if it’s no bet to you, you will be checking and hoping to get a free card.  Beyond that, however, the biggest factor that goes into deciding whether to stay with this hand is position.  You want all the cards you need to improve to trips to be live, very few players left, and good kickers.  Again and again I have emphasized how much of an advantage it can be to be in late position.  With a pair on fifth street, late position is especially useful.

As with Poker Two Pair, the odds are better for you when there are fewer players in the pot.  Ideally, if you’re staying, only one or two players should be left.  If there are a lot of drawing hands sticking around, just muck the hand.  Unfortunately, since we are talking about the low limits in this book, in most instances three or more players will stick around to see sixth street, so more often than not you will be folding this hand.  It is playable at times; those times, however, just do not come along too often.

Let’s say that three or more players are sticking around, but, nevertheless, you decide that you desperately want to see sixth street.  The only other instances when you can play a pair past fifth street is when you meet all of these three criteria:

  • You hold a big pair.
  • You have live cards.
  • You have over cards.

A hidden pair is also better than a split one.  For instance, let’s say you have pocket jacks and a king and an ace on the board.  One player bets; three others call.  If you must, call, but again, you want all of your cards to improve to trips to be live in this situation.  Note that folding is a perfectly acceptable play in this situation.  I would fold here unless I knew my oppoments very well and knew them to be the types of players who would stay in with nothing.

Quick Guide….
….to Pairs on Fifth Street:

  • CALL if you have live cards and a very narrow field (no more than two other players).
  • FOLD usually – unless you have a small field, a big pair, live cards and good over cards.