In all forms of poker, the most difficult hand to play is two pair. Two pair and trips are where the most money is won and lost. Any player can toss a worse hand and win with a big hand. You can play with middle-value hands which will determine your profit or loss. Most of your hands played will be middle-value. The worse hand you toss away and the big hands don't come always.
If you make two pair at fourth-street and if no one is showing a pair higher than either of your pairs, bet or raise the maximum. This hand should be protected. You have a good hand with two pair, but your chances of improvement are not good. Eliminate the players and thus you will stand a good chance of winning the pot. If you knock out and win it right here, that's okay. Take the money remembering that it's better to win a small pot than to lose a big pot.
If you are playing two-pair on fourth-street, you will need live cards and overpairs
You want your cards to be fully live because you have a long shot to improve even when your cards are live – 3.5-to-1 at fourth-street. Not too bad - 5-to-1 on fourth-street. Get worse 10-to-1 at sixth-street. It is beginning to look as though you would rather not reach sixth-street with this hand.
You also need overpairs so that even if you don't improve, you still will have a shot at winning if your rival also makes two pair.
To raise on fourth-street with two pair is a matter of position, exposed cards, whether you raised on third-street, how many players have already called, and the rank of your two pair
Suppose 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 the bet. Would you raise? It depends. What's your main object? Is it protection? You won't be able to achieve that objective. With five other players having already put in a bet, you won't be able to drop enough of them. Just fold.
If the high board is immediately to your right and bets, your raise would have a chance of achieving your objective of protecting your hand. Anyone who comes in behind you must call two bets cold, instead of just the one bet. But it's either raise or fold – no call at this moment. If you are re-raised, you will have to fold. Someone has trips or two big pair. Read the board.
Would you bet if he checks? Not with a small two pair. Try to take a free card or otherwise 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 and you catch a king at fourth-street – you'll play a hand easily.
If you make two pair but your rival pairs his doorcard and bets, you must either fold or raise. Calling here would be the wrong 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 re-raises, you should give some importance to his giving trips.
If he calls, you have no information and must play carefully. This is one of the situations where your knowledge of your rival is helpful to determine what his raise or call means. Remember there is no substitute for knowledge of your rivals. If it looks that you both have two pair, make sure that yours is the higher two pair. And also make sure that your cards are live.
To recall, the most difficult hand to play in poker is two pair. If you are going to play such a hand, you must play it fast. You should either bet or raise the maximum. However, it is fine if you do not play fast but throw away your hand.
At these limits, do not limp in with two pair on fourth-street or you won't like what happens on seventh-street
Another thing to keep in mind: Two pair should be protected because although it is the best hand, it is not likely to improve. Play your hand fast.
There is a little information which will help you to solve the above problems. A player who raises at fourth-street is more likely to have two pair than three-of-a-kind. Many players calls with trips at fourth-street just to keep the players playing in the game.
Suppose that both you and your rival have made two pair on fourth-street. You have jacks and seven while you suspect that your rival is having queens and tens. How will you play your jack and seven? If you are wise you won't play it. Again, of the three things that can happen, two will be bad for you. If neither of you improves, you lose the pot. If you both improve, you again lose the pot. However, if you improve and he doesn't you win.
What about your two pair against your rival's one pair which is higher than either of your pair? It appears to be good enough from one side. And on the other side you don't like it. With three cards to come, your rival can pair any one of his cards, or make trips of his pair, and your two pair will be no use.
Small pair is so easily thrown away that it's a long range money loser. It is a death against two higher pair and it has less surviving power against one higher pair on fourth-street.
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