Small Pocket Pair Poker Strategy

pair of twos pokerFirstly, in poker, what is a small pocket pair considered to be? A small pocket pair is usually regarded as a pair of hole cards between 22 and 66. Any other pocket pair – that is to say two matching numbered hole cards – with higher values should be considered to be either a medium or high pocket pair maxing out at pocket aces.

It would be easy to think low is a blow when it comes to pocket pairs, but they can be deceptively strong and plenty of hands have been won with low numbered hole cards. However, they can often lead to trouble for new players who are unsure what to make of them or even over value them.

So long as your opponent hasn’t been dealt a higher quality pair of matching hole cards, even a small pocket pair can beat the majority of other hands pre flop. However, this all hinges on what comes next, post flop, when it could lose its potential power. That is to say that your hand isn’t improved on the flop.

How To Play Small Pocket Pairs

pair of fours poker

Because a small pocket pair is constructed of low ranking cards there is a very high chance that the flop will deliver over cards. This, then, will give us an under pair to the board making it hard to tell whether or not we are ahead which is our initial problem.

Our opponent could be holding almost anything, including potentially the same as us. More likely, they will have a higher pair, a drawing hand, a lower pair or any other possible hand.

If we bet and it gets called, we are still none the wiser of where we are at power wise, and it could prove too dangerous to try and find out whether or not we are ahead by waiting until it’s betting time on the turn and the river.

Low Ranking Hole Cards And Sets

pair of fives pokerThe logical step then is wait for the flop. That is to say play a small pocket pair for as long as it isn’t too costly to do so. Should the flop indeed deliver a matching card to your pair then you will have a set and will kick yourself for mucking earlier.

This is where the true strength in a small pocket pair lies as suddenly you have a three of a kind, two of which are your hole cards making it different to trips which is made up of one hole card plus two from the community cards.

While we all love pocket aces, one of the secret beauties of a smaller pocket pair is that opponents don’t often suspect them making it possible to make a lot of money from them.

Without this set on the flop, though, it can be costly to continue on to the turn with so low ranking hands. That is not to say that a matching card won’t show on the turn or the river, but it is definitely risky, especially if your opponents keep on raising.

Instead of looking to play a small pocket pair after the flop, your best bet would be find a set or simply fold the hand. You will be riding your luck playing a low pocket pair post flop, it is also unlikely to be very profitable whilst being very difficult to play so the best advice would be to try to avoid doing so.

Chances Of Landing A Set

Betting OddsHere’s the thing, the odds of catching a set on the flop stand at 8/1 meaning we will only hit a set once in every eight flops. Obviously, those aren’t particularly great odds, and it means that it isn’t very often that we will get good enough pre flop odds to call when trying to make our set on the flop.

These odds tell us that we might well be overpaying for something that is unlikely to happen enough to make it a valuable move.

However, what about if we take into account the implied odds we have of hitting a set? The implied odds refer to the amount we can expect to win should we make the hand.

Playing Small Pocket Pairs Conclusion

pair of sixes poker

Pocket pairs in poker are never a bad thing but playing the lower value cards can be tricky given that, unless they flop a set, which is an 8/1 chance, it can be difficult – but not impossible – to make a win with them. Small pocket pairs can be fairly straight forward to play most of the time. Basically, try to flop a set, and if you fall short and don’t make it then simply fold.

To recap, what counts as a small pair is disputed but is generally relative to the situation but is recognised as being pocket twos through to pocket sixes. When set mining, stack size and position will also dictate how you should play small pairs.

With 20 to 40 big blinds, it is probably better to fold in an early position but open for a raise with them in middle and late positions. But you will face a tough decision if you are then re-raised. It is likely that you should simply make a fold in this scenario but there are some players out there that are so aggressive that smaller pairs can become decent enough hands to four bet shove with over their three bet.

If, though, you are facing looser players in the middle and late position low pocket pairs can become good hands to move in with following a raise so long as they are not the kind of opponents that are likely to call a shove if they are holding suited connectors which have a greater success rate against small pocket pairs.