PokerJunkie > Poker Strategy > Poker Strategy > Playing Big Pairs

Playing Big Pairs

29 April 2005, By:
I have seen many players, in both cash ring games and Sit-n-Go tournaments, get a big pair and play the hand completely wrong. There is no perfect way to play any hand--it all depends on the table you're playing on and your knowledge of how your opponents bet and how they will react to a bet. But there is a very good way to play these big starters.

Repeat this to yourself over and over: I will NOT limp in with Aces or Kings. Limping in only lets the rest of the table see a cheap flop, and if anyone sees a flush or straight draw, they may be likely to stick around for another card, regardless of its cost. Raises of two or three times the blinds is likely to be seen as value added for playable hands like suited connectors and pocket pairs below TT.

Therefore, your first objective is to thin the field as much as possible. Anything from five times the big blinds to about half of your stack should be moved in pre-flop. Almost every poker book recommends playing these cards in a way similar to this. Yet few people do. Don't get gun-shy. Most likely, you'll get the hand head to head with AK, KQ, or QQ. Almost all other hands will fold. If you're holding Kings and the flop doesn't bring the dreaded Ace, you need to move yourself all in, or bet enough to move your opponent all in if he calls. If you're holding Aces and the flop doesn't present a straight draw, flush draw or big pair (KK, QQ, JJ, TT), move all in or bet enough to move your opponent all in with a call. Once an Ace-less flop hits, KK is probably way ahead and going all in here is a good bet.

Howard Lederer says you have to protect Aces like you would your firstborn child. This is exactly what this betting strategy is designed to do. You don't want drawing hands to even see the flop, and once you've dodged the flop, you don't want your opponent to suck out by double-pairing the board or catching a set on the turn or the river. They may call your bets, and they may well catch the cards they need to crack your big pair. But more times than not, they will either lay it down or miss their cards, and you'll scoop the pot.

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