Two pair is probably the most difficult hand to play in all of Poker. Appropriately, two pair and trips are where the most money is won and lost. Any fool can toss a garbage hand, or win with a big hand. Its what you do with your middle-value hands that will determine to a large extent your profit or loss picture.

After all, most of the hands you play will be middle-value. The garbage hands you toss away and the big hands don't come along that often. If you make two pair here at fourth street and if no one is showing a pair higher than either of your pairs, bet or raise the maximum.

This hand must be protected! You have a good hand with two pair, but your chances of improvement are not good. Cut down the competition and you stand a better chance of winning the pot.

If you drive everyone out and win it right here, that's just fine. Smile and take the money, remembering that its better to win a small pot than to lose a big one.

If you are playing two pair on fourth street, you & ll want two essentials: live cards and overpairs.

I want my cards to be absolutely live because I'm a long shot to improve even when my cards are live-3.5-to-1 here at fourth street. Not too bad. 5-to-1 on fifth street. Getting worse. 10-to-1 at sixth street. Bummer!

Its beginning to looks as though Id rather not reach sixth street with this hand. Well see. Overpairs I need them so that even if I don't improve, I still will have a shot at winning if my opponent also makes two pair.

Raising with two pair on fourth street for protection is a matter of position, exposed cards, whether you raised on third street, how many players have already called, and the ranks of your two pair.

For example, if you just called on third street with a split pair of sevens and a four as a side card, you have a seven showing with a four and a seven down. You catch another four, giving you sevens and fours. The high board is to your left and bets.

Four players call by the time the action gets to you. Do you raise? Well, depends. What's your objective? Protection. You probably wont be able to accomplish that objective. With five other poker players having already put in a bet, you probably wont be able to drop enough of them. Fold. If the high board is immediately to your right and bets, your raise would now have a chance of accomplishing your objective of protecting your hand. Anyone who comes in behind you must call two bets cold, instead of just the one bet.

But its either raise or fold-no call here! If you are reraised, you'll have to fold. Someone has trips or two big pair. Read the board. If he checks, do you bet? Not with a small two pair. Take a free card or fold.

If you have made two big pair-if you started with a split pair of medium value, with a king as your side card (no third-street raise), and you catch a king here at fourth street-you'll have an easier time playing your hand. You'll look stronger and you'll be stronger. (Keep reading the board.)

If you make two pair, but your opponent pairs his doorcard and bets, you must either fold or raise. Calling would be your worst move. If his exposed pair is higher than either of your two pair, fold. If it isn't then you have an overpair on him and should raise the maximum. If he reraises, you must give some consideration to his having trips.

If he just calls, you have no further specific information and must play cautiously. This is one of those spots where knowledge of your opponent can be very helpful in determining what his raise or call means. Remember, there is no substitute for knowledge of your opponents.

If it appears that you both have two pair, make sure that yours is the higher two pair. And make sure that your cards are live. To reiterate, two pair is the most difficult hand to play in all of poker. If you are going to play such a hand, you must play it fast. Bet or raise the maximum. If your not willing to play fast, that's okay, but release the hand.

At medium and lower limits, do not limp in with two pair on fourth street or you wont like what usually happens to you on seventh street.

So heres another worthwhile repeat: Two pair must be protected, because, although it is probably the best hand at the moment, its not likely to improve. Play it fast. Heres a tidbit of information that will be helpful somewhere down the line, possibly even in one of the above problems.

A player who raises at fourth poker street is more likely to have two pair than three-of-a-kind. Most players with trips just call at fourth street in an attempt to keep players in. Lets now suppose that both you and your opponent have made two pair on fourth street. You hold jacks and sevens while you strongly suspect (or know) that your opponent has queens and tens.

How are you going to play this hand? If your smart, you wont. again, of the three things that can happen, two will be bad for you. If neither of you improves, you lose. If you both improve, you lose. If you improve, you lose. If you both improve, you lose. If you improve and your opponent doesn't, you lose. If you improve and your opponent doesn't, you win.

How about your two pair against your opponents one pair, which is higher than either of your pair? At first glance it looks good. But at second glance, you don't like it. With three cards to come, your opponent can pair any one of his cards, or make trips of his pair, and your two pair will go down the tubes.

You should be getting a clear picture that two small pair is something of a death hand.

Such a hand is so easily outdrawn that its a long-range money loser. Its death against two higher pair and, as we have seen, it has little life against even one higher pair on fourth street.


If you started with a medium or small pair and have received no improvement, you must play with caution, if at all. But automatically folding is not correct. You can continue to play, but you'll need other values with your live pair.

If you perceive that your opponent is on a big pair, which would have to be higher than yours, you must have a couple of live overcards to his pair to call a bet.

But if there is a raise from any player, your done with it. Yes, you see the bigger kids at the higher limits ram and jam with these cards, but if you try it at the lower limits, the only jammin you'll keep doing is your hand into your pocket to get more money.

If your hand with the live medium pair has three suited cards that are live, be inclined to call for the half-bet here on fourth street. If your pair has improved to trips or a high two-pair.

Just a reminder: A low two pair must be played with caution, if at all. Fives and threes is just not much of a poker hand, unless you can determine that it is the best at the moment. Then push it as hard as you can. Try to win with it right here, or give it up if it looks like you can.

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