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Four Tips for Playing Middle Pocket Pairs in Hold'em

The pocket pair is always a very attractive starting hand in Texas Hold'em. Unfortunately however, they can throw you into some pretty sticky situations after the flop if you do not know how to play them properly. It all seems like fun and games before the flop, but when those overcards come all hell seems to break loose, and you are left wondering whether or not to play on with the hand.

Use these 4 tips to help you sort out that fuzzy strategy on how to play mid-pocket pairs in Texas Hold'em.

1) Realize that pocket pairs are not indestructible

In my opinion, the problem with playing mid pocket pairs stems from the fact that they are far too overvalued preflop. It's easy to get excited when you look down and see your pocket pair and start raising like a mad man preflop but when the flop cards comes down you are a little lost, as your hand is not nearly as strong as you thought it was.

Mid pocket pairs are solid hands, but they are not worth reraising another player with before the flop. Remember that there is more to a Texas Hold em hand than the preflop betting round, so prepare for whatever might happen on the flop with your preflop actions.

2) Hitting a set is the ultimate goal

When you see a flop with a mid pocket pair you need to look at it in one of two ways; you either hit a set or you didn't.

The true value of a pocket pair is its ability to hit a set and extract a lot of money from the unsuspecting opponent. Pocket pairs have huge implied odds because the possibility of a set is often overlooked by your opponents, which means that you are likely to get paid off if they also catch a piece of the flop.

If you are unfortunate and do not hit your set, you mid pocket pair is not going to be worth fighting with. This is not to say that you should completely give up on the hand, but to simply be aware that you may well be beat, and the fact that you are not sure of where you stand means that you should lean toward folding if there is a lot of action.

Even though it's disappointing that you did not hit your set, you should be happy to fold and avoid digging yourself into a deeper hole. Your bankroll will thank you for it.

3) It is worth calling relatively large bets to see a flop

Even though the odds of actually hitting a set are 7:1, it is still worth calling a 4 or 5 big blind bet to see a flop. This is due to the fact that for the one time you do hit that set, you can expect to be paid off handsomely, which makes up for the times that you called the bet to see the flop but missed.

As I already mentioned, your opponent is unlikely to suspect that you have a set, and so if they hit a hand like top pair, you can expect to see a large portion of their stack coming your way. So at the end of the day, you will lose a little bit of money from the times you call and miss, but you will easily make up for this when you hit your set.

4) When you hit your set, play it fast

The last thing you want to do when you hit your set is to slow down and start checking and calling. You want to make sure that you get the most from the hand, so don't be afraid the build the pot by betting and raising. If you are checking and calling, you are missing out on a prime opportunity to force your opponent to put more money into the pot, as they will not usually suspect that you have such a strong hand.

There will be times where your opponent folds when you bet and raise with your set, but try not to let this get you down. Remember that if your opponent was not willing to call your bets or raises on early betting rounds, then you were unlikely to have ever extracted much money from the hand anyway. At least you gave yourself the opportunity to win the biggest pot possible.


The key point to remember is that your main goal is to hit a set with your mid pocket pair. A pocket pair will still retain some value after the flop, but the problem is that it is difficult to know where you stand. Therefore the best plan of action is to be careful and avoid getting involved in a big pot.

The more you play pocket pairs, the more adept you will become at playing them. Hopefully this article helped you to find your footing a little when it comes to mid pocket pairs, but there is no replacement for practice, so get out there and play!

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