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  • Playing Small Pocket Pairs Out of Position

Picking up a small pocket pair is a combination of a good and bad feeling at the same time to some poker players. The reason for this is that you already have a made hand, but the problem is that you can get dominated by a flop that kills your hand, or leaves you with that feeling of not knowing what to do next. While playing a small pair before the flop may not be incredibly tough, the real part that involves strategy and careful play comes post flop, when you are up against one, two, or even more players, and there are flops that include Aces, Kings, and anything else above your small pocket pair! Today we are going to take a look at some strategy behind playing your small pocket pairs out of position, and also help you decide when to keep going with your hand, or when to simply lay it down and move to the next hand.

It is obvious, but in a situation where you flop a set with your small pocket pair, you should do your best to get the chips in the middle, unless the board is incredibly scary and you have a read on your opponent. As far as playing a hand like pocket four’s pre-flop in a cash game for example, the best thing to do is to pump up the action a bit to hopefully get some opponents out of the hand. From this point, when the flop comes down, you’ll probably want to put out a continuation bet on a wide range of boards IF there is only one player remaining in the hand. If you have pocket fours, against two or three other opponents and the board doesn’t have a four on it, and it has a few high cards, you should just check and move the action to your next opponent. Continuation betting into multiple players is almost never a good idea, and it’s essentially asking to be called or re-raised and put in an even tougher spot on the next street.

From there, if you are heads up and your opponent calls and the turn comes, it’s time for even more decisions. Was your opponent looking at a draw? (or was the board draw-y) Or do they just have a higher pair? This is decision time for you, because at this point you are essentially semi-bluffing, and if you continue to go through with it then you will need to sell your bluff all the way through the river. If your read on your opponent is wrong, then it could end up costing you some chips on this hand. But, if your opponent misses their draw, or you can force them off of a hand like top pair (not incredibly likely), then you’ll pick up a nice pot. More often than not, unless you know the opponent well, I would most likely just check the action to let your opponent decide what they want to do. Playing with pocket fours out of position is a tough thing to do, and it’s even tougher post flop as well.

Overall, playing small pocket pairs out of position can be a task, but you are really just hoping to hit a set and make your move from there. Outside of that though, you should be careful playing your hand and do your best to keep the pot small unless you hit.

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