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My love/hate relationship with big pocket pairs!

January 17 Sandra Wong

The excitement of big pocket pairs…

Big Pocket Pairs

It’s pretty exciting when you squeeze your cards and see two black Aces when your playing poker. I get a rush and a vision of winning a big pot.
What happens when your UTG and squeeze those black Aces in a loose, calling station type game? The type of game when any raise preflop gets called by a minimum of 6 players. I don’t know about you, but It can be really difficult to play that big pocket pair out of position against wild and unpredictable competition.
Which brings me back to the title of my latest blog… I really do have a love/hate relationship with big pocket pairs. Before when I didn’t really know anything about playing advanced post flop poker, I loved when I would get a big pocket pair. I would sit there for hours and only play big hands, when they got cracked by other players I would get very upset. (Not too say I don’t get upset today, but I do understand how and why it happened)
I consider big pairs mostly preflop hands, you basically want to get as much money in preflop against a dominated hand and hope it holds up. That is why I don’t really like playing big pocket pairs out of position against multiple opponents, your hand is very vulnerable and you only feel really comfortable if you hit your set or get a very dry flop. That is why I prefer to be the caller in position against a big pair, basically I get to play against my opponent with their hand face up to me. For example, a super nit raises to $25 in EP with what he should have in this spot (AA, KK, AK, QQ and maybe JJ) I call in the cutoff with Js9s and see a flop heads up. I can basically apply massive pressure to this opponent with the right textured flop! I know what he has, and should be able to get him off his one pair with some reasonable aggression. I can flop big or bluff, the choice is mine and I weigh my options based on the opponent I am up against. It is especially useful if the opponent will not lay down his big pair, if this is the case I hope to flop big (Two pair or better) and stack him. I will not bluff any opponent who will not fold his over pair, that is like committing suicide in poker.
If I am the person playing the big pocket pair out of position in a wild game where nobody folds, I will either limp re-raise or raise big enough to get one or two callers at most. That can be a tricky thing to master when your considering bet sizing. If I am playing in a 2/5 NL game I would usually experiment early in the session with my bet sizing and see how the table reacts. For example… I will raise a suited gapper or connector UTG to $35 and see how many callers I get. If I get numerous callers, then I know I will have to make it larger when I do get a big pocket pair in EP. I don’t want to bet too big though, if I do get Aces and open to $60, everyone may fold and I will get no action. So I want to find that perfect number and go with that… usually I find that to be between $40-50 dollars dependant on the game I am playing in. My range is pretty polarized so I am raising the same in EP regardless if I have Ah2h or KcKs or 5h6h, I don’t want to have a bet sizing tell so I keep my bet sizing pretty consistent. I much prefer to have big pockets in 3bet pots, they are much easier to play and I am going to win a pretty big pot most of the time. Usually I am heads up and have position on my opponent with a very strong hand.
Well I hope this little strategy blog helps your game!
Good luck at the tables and may you never be drawing dead.
You can find Mike Wiseman on Twitter: @Mikey604

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