Playing a Pocket Pair poker

Most of the poker players often argue the pros and cons of particular actions of some real-life hand that someone has played. Also this hand is played in a 15-30 game.

We selected this hand because we thought that the options at each betting round were close there was no specific best thing to do and an analysis of the possibilities of playing this hand illustrates the kinds of thinking and changes in thinking that you need to do at the table.

The Beginning

Our hero is in the late position, one seat to the left of the button and holds 44. It is a loose game, not very aggressive. It is a category of loose-typical game. An early position player opens by calling the blind and three more players call. Now it is time for our hero to act.

A Pre-Flop Call

Should our hero call? The decision is really close. A pocket pair of fours isn't much of a hand; it is a speculative hand which requires four or five callers to get enough combinations of pot odds and implied odds. If we know that we won't be raised by the button or one of the blinds then it is almost clear call. If we estimate that the chances are that one of the players still behind us will raise then a call becomes little trivial. In general, the table is passive, we are in late position, four players have already called, and the blinds will likely play. This is a good call but folding wouldn't be a big mistake. What did he do? He just called.

You need a little larger pair to raise in this situation with only four sure callers. In a loose game, you need to look at the game in terms of the kind of odds you are getting. In poker, a pocket pair of fours before the flop needs very high odds, probably about 8-1 to justify a raise.

With a pocket pair, the odds of flopping a set are more than 7-1. That's the basic way that a small-or medium-sized pair will win. You can of course win with these hands in other ways. Sometimes they make a straight draw. Sometimes they end up winning unimproved. You can even flop a set and still lose also. The smaller your set the greater the chance that someone will make a higher set. The larger the pair, the more ways they have to win and the fewer callers you need to justify a raise. With the pair of Aces, you need only one caller to justify a raise. With a pair of fours, you need eight callers to justify a raise. With only four or five callers you shouldn't raise with less than about a pair of 8s. However, our hero correctly called.

The Rest of the Pre-flop Action

As soon as our hero calls, the button raises. We hadn't counted on that but both blinds call, all the other callers just call and no one re-raises. Now again our hero was suppose to act. It's time to think of a raise again. Now there are seven other players in the pot, each has already called two bets. We have that pocket pair of 4s and are a little worse than a 7-1 underdog to flop a set. Should we raise? It's a close call. At our first action in the poker betting, there were not enough active players for a raise, but three more players have showed action. Whether you should raise is all based on how badly the players in the pot tend to play in later rounds of betting. With eight callers, a raise would have been automatic with a pair of 4s. With a pair of 6s, a raise would be automatic with six callers. If raising is a mistake then it is probably not a big mistake, but just calling isn't a huge mistake either. Our hero just called. That was conceivably the right thing to do, but consequently it is also important to think about raising.

Continue: Flop-Turn-River

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