How to play low pocket pairs

And now you have opened one of the proverbial ‘can of worms’ in poker strategy. Thank you Patrick for your question, “How do I play a low pair?” and for dragging me into this mess…

My answer is, “It depends….” or …”Go buy a Poker Strategy book and see what the experts say”…

But seriously to try and answer Patrick’s question on how to play a low pair, for example a pair of sixes, I would do the following:

First of all, if you get any pair in your opening hand, it is good and it is worth sliding some chips in. Be conservative though because although a low pair is good it can also easily get beaten.

On the flop everything can change – that’s the fun of poker. If you get a trip that puts you in a strong position, but there is also a good chance someone out there also has a good hand… Ahhh, why did I try and answer this???

Knowing the ranking of poker hands and your odds for pocket pairs always helps – there are some excellent explanations of the probabilities in Wikipedia.

My best advice is to watch players carefully and note their reactions to the flop, or turn and river cards. Match their action after the flop to the type of player they are, if something is not right perhaps it is a bluff.

If you play poker online you obviously don’t have the body language but you can still judge your opponents poker play.

Also how are they betting? How big are your opponents stacks? Often players with big poker stacks are bullies especially at online poker, they like to make high raises and re-raise, putting their opponents under pressure.

On a very strong raise, most times I would fold, depending on how big my stack is compared to the raise.

You want to get away with it as cheaply as possible. A low pair can easily get beaten in poker. A pair of sixes is marginal, whereas a pair of nines I might be more confident.

Don’t forget to also keep an eye on the suits, do you have three or four suited cards going into the turn or the river?

Phew its hard to give good poker advice on this one, because there are so many factors…

If you are not confident at all in you poker ability or if you feel out-gunned at the table, then I would advise to stick to playing the higher pairs above nines, you have more chance of winning. On the other hand if played well, a low pair can be profitable.

A semi-bluff or two does no harm… get my meaning? But you have to read the situation well, just like always – stay alert in the poker game and you will keep your stack!

I hope this answers your question, Patrick. Experience playing poker will help you to make the decisions of how to play a low pair better.

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