How to play low pocket pairs on a 9 handed Texas Hold'em table?

Hey all I’m fairly new to Texas Hold’em and would love your advice on the following. I always have trouble playing low pocket pairs (55’s and lower) 9 handed. What does everyone think an acceptable play is in the following positions:

  1. Small blind
  2. Button
  3. Under the gun

Look forward to some discussion on this!

I play them different when playing for money than I do free chips. Low pairs I see the flop and fold if I don’t hit.

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  1. Small blind, if isolated vs the BB, usually raise 3x and try to take it down right there. If there are 1 or more limpers already in, just call and see the flop. Fold if there is a big raise, though you might call a modest raise and see if you connect on the flop. If you miss, follow the “no set, no bet” rule.

  2. Button, pretty much the same as SB.

3, UTG, I almost never raise small to medium pairs from this position. Try to get in cheap, fold to any big raise, consider calling a modest raise if it’s from an early position, but usually fold if you are between 2 or more aggressive players.

It’s unwise to put yourself in a position where you risk a large portion of your chips preflop where you are either a small favorite or a big dog. Against 2 overs, it’s pretty close to a coin toss, but against a bigger pair, you will be a 4-1 underdog. You will flop a set about 1 time in 8.

Note that I say, “usually” and “almost always.” This is because there are situations, like against super tight players, where you can steal if you miss the flop. It’s also a good idea to mix up your play a little to make yourself harder to read. (“Usually” might be 70% of the time, and “almost always” 90% or so)

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i fully agree with sun’s comment but want to add a few things too

  • to point 3, almost never raise from early position is good, but an important situation you might consider a standard raise (about 3-4 BB’s) is when you know the table is very tight, you may get everyone folded, or get maybe 1 caller which you most of the time can bluff away on the flop with a cbet no matter the flop, or u hit the set and can try to extractas much as possible. and when got reraised you have all the information you need to fold for the price of just 3BB’s.
    however if you don’t have a good read at the table image it’s better to stick at what sun said.

  • if you have a stack of 10 BB’s or less you can also shove with this hand regardless of your position (late is still better of course). don’t do this when you already got raised but only if you’re the first raiser. this way you probably get the blinds stealed, or maybe 1 caller (more is possible too of course but highly unlikely unless you play with maniacs, if so never try this) and 1 caller means most of the time a flip in your advantage, only a higher pair you won’t want to see. when shortstacked a flip isn’t such a bad thing because every blind now matters and waiting for premium hands may cost you much more BB’s.
    remember to only do this when you’re the first raiser and only when being under 10 BB’s, more means you can wait for a better spot and even more then that means you don’t need to shove at all

  • as already explained on the flop it is no set no bet, but if you got the set you want so much as possible in the pot, you can slowplay (checking and calling to trap your opponent) or betting to get money. the most clear examples are the maniac and the calling station: if you are in a pot with a maniac then defenitely slowplay, he does the bets and raises for you but on the river you should make a bet/raise because in early position it may look like a bluff and you get reraised and in late position the only way to get even more money in the pot is to raise. when playing against a calling station you should bet, a calling station like to see cards and often don’t raise but like to call your bets to see more cards, the only thing is you should also consider the bets are high enough to profit from them but not that high even the calling station would fold. also consider there are often different situations then these 2 obvious ones, if they happen you should look for yourself what’s the best way to get money out of it.

  • when’you’re in the exact same situation as explained above but now with a potential flush or straightdraw then ingnore everything i said earlier and make a big bet enough to scare opponents out of his draw, not only considering the draw odds but also considering how much implied odds he thinks he has, for example: a board like Ks 9h 3s while you have 3h 3c with 1 opponent make a bet about 2/3 the pot if he had a draw he will very probably fold, even if he calls and another spade comes you are fairly certain you have the best hand because he showed earlier he want to call with wrong flush odds, but still be careful because there are calling stations who like draws and don’t think about odds.
    if it is a very drawing board like 6d 5d 3d with your same 33 you have to be even more cautious because there are very high flush chances and even good straight chances, i would still make the same bet to see where you are but if you got raised fold immidiately, if you got called then check-fold the turn and river. when in the same situation with more people in the pot check fold immediately unless you get the full-house or better of course.

hope this helps

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Thanks @eddie72, @SunPowerGuru and @yiazmat this helps a lot! Another tricky situation I’ve been in before with low pocket pairs is when I had a full house and was facing a large bet. It’s hard to tell if your full house is good or not.

If you are talking about replaypoker or play money poker, you should call on utg, sb and check bb. If someone raises 3x+ and there are 0,1, or 2 callers, then fold. Otherwise, just call and set mine. If you don’t get a set, just fold to any bet.
If everyone folds to you on sb or bb, you could try a 2.5-3x raise to steal the blinds.

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Usually I call or check (If I’m the big blind) unless someone raises 3X the big blind then I’ll just fold. If my opponent raises 2X the big blind I’ll sometimes call depending a few things:

My chip stack size compared to my opponents.

How many other players have already limped and called before It was my turn to act (If I’m the first to act after the raise I usually fold.)

and the raisers range of hands for example ( Does the opponent have the same pocket pair as me or something better?)

If I don’t hit my card on the flop I’ll fold unless I hit 2 pair or better.

Good luck!

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good points, however i’ll add a few things:

you mention replay/play money to call utg and i assume you point to the fact that many people like to limp with play money, in that case you are right. but also want to mention there are also tables more often with play money then without that have maniacs on them in that case defenitely not limp from early position.
in short you can limp in early when you know the table does most of the time too, but if there is at least 1 lag player then don’t.

your second point is a very good one but because phavelia told he’s new i shall explain this one: with the strong hands like big pairs or high cards you often want to make a raise for a good pot with a low amount of opponents because you probably have the best hand and don’t want it to get beat by a accidental 2 pair or better because youlet too many opponents in. however with cards like suited connectors and low pairs you want the opposite because on themself they are weak hands but could change in very strong hand, with seeing a flop as cheap as possible you don’t risk much to possibly getting a monster, and with many opponents your hand is very likely to get paid because the chances are much higher someone else got something too in other words you get good implied odds with this kind of drawing hands.
aoeu said fold to 2 callers or less with a 3x raise and call with more callers because of this reason, with more of those opponents it’s worth the slightly higher risk because the reward is also a lot higher.

about the steal raise on the sb or bb if everyone folds is good but i would also try this on the dealer and most of the time on the co, even with 1 caller you are a slight favorite most of the time and on the flop only most of the time except for bigger pairs.

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yw glad it helped :slight_smile:

as for your full house question: it depends on the situation but most of the time your full house is very good (better as the set of course)

the best situation a can think of when your fh is not so good is when the set is on the board. for example: you hold 44, board 9 K 9 9 8 now there are 7 outs that have you beat (all K’s, all 8’s and the last 9) also if he holds any other bigger pocket then your fours you’re also beat. in short call a small bet but fold to a bigger one.

however when you got a pair like 55 with board 9 2 9 9 3, then your hand is very good but still with a small risk, now only 1 out (the 9) and bigger pairs beat you, conclusion call this big bet (don’t raise) however if the bet is really huge you may consider folding with even this hand unless he’s very loose.

now the good situation (which most of the time will be the case) when you got the set part of the fh: in this case try to get the pot as huge as possible except for a few situations.
the worst thing in this case is a hand like 22 with a board like 2 10 10 J J in this case there are 4 outs that have you beat (any 10 and J), so call a small or medium raise but fold to a big one, also fold to a medium sized raise in a multi way pot.

any non double paired board or better with your full house means try getting the pot as big as possible the only thing you should consider folding is with a very tight passive player is now raising and reraising, and even then most of the times this is a good enough hand to play, in short never fold this kind of full house unless you got some kind of an amazing soul read.

in short: always get the pot as big as possible with a full house unless it is one with outs (especcialy multiple outs) that can beat it. also try to make a good sized raise before it comes to this point unless it can’t happen.

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It depends what kind of game you are talking about (you say 9 handed, so I assume you mean full ring cash game). Some people have mentioned stack size in their responses, but in a ring game you always want to have at least 100 big blinds behind and it’s even better to have the max buy-in behind at all times. Stack sizes affect decisions, but let’s just assume that everyone is super deep.

My advice: almost always see a flop with a pocket pair. I would limp pairs 99 or lower 100% of the time from early position and in the blinds, 75% of the time from middle position, and 60% of the time from late position, and raise the rest. Pretty much your only goal is to set mine, and on Replay you are almost always getting the correct implied odds.

Assuming stack sizes are deep, I would almost always call, even if someone gives you the wrong price (say you limp UTG and get raised 8x by the button). The reasoning is that you can assume that they have a hand that they are willing to invest more in post-flop like QQ, KK, AA. If they have AA and you hit a set, you can probably double up. Heck, I have seen people with AK miss the flop and still bluff off their entire stack to my set. So, basically, if the stacks are deep and your opponent is aggressive, then it is almost always profitable to set mine, even if the initial price is bad. The one exception I would make is if the pot is three-bet preflop and you don’t close the action because you don’t want to face even more raises. If players are raising to 20x or going all-in preflop then it is time to fold.

Postflop play when you miss your set is much trickier, but you can usually fold when your opponents show strength, but I would at least call a flop bet and maybe even a double barrel with bigger pairs like 99 when they are overpairs to the board or you think your opponent missed. It is fine to just fold when facing a lot of aggression.

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Thanks a bunch all this is really helpful. I’ll be posting more situational questions on this forum to get everyone’s suggestions there!

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22 is favored before the flop over AK.

true but also consider that this is only true when you play those 2 against each other. (as with all lower pairs vs overcards)
in the way of better hands AK is a way better hand then 22.

like a science
have fun

22 is a slight favorite over AKo and about a coin toss against AKs, but this assumes a preflop allin one hand vs the other.

Although 22 may have a slight edge in equity, it will be a lot harder to realize that advantage. For example, AK could stand a raise (and maybe a reraise) preflop, but 22 can’t profitably stand a raise, and should be an easy fold against any raise and reraise. Not only can AK stand a raise, it will often drive other hands out with a reraise, gaining fold equity. This can be a profitable play from any position.

Post flop, 22 is very tricky to play. You either hit your set or you don’t, and if you don’t it’s often impossible to continue in the hand. Even if you flop a flush or straight draw, 22 will find itself in a bad situation. You can’t really chase a 1 card 2 high flush, no matter the odds you are getting. Likewise, you are likely to be at the small end of any straight you make.

So, although 22 might have a slight “on paper” statistical edge over AKo, in the real world, you won’t make it to showdown often enough to take advantage of that edge.

the best way to play a small pocket pr. is to simply call. ( no all-in nessesary @ this point. ) if 1 of yer #'s come up then ya got trips. On a 9 handed table I suspect an all-in is quite appropriate, keep in mind another 1 gives you 4 of a kind. If you’re starting w/ a small stack you may as well go all-in ( preflop ), that will disguise yer weak low pr. & evry1 will be convinced of your superior fire power. , you’re welcome, !!!

I was recently dealt pocket twos in a very aggressive cash game, I almost folded since the standard preflop raise had occurred. But I called after some hesitation, the flop was ace ace deuce, after some checking the betting started heating up, then the river was another deuce, I check raised and made a ton of cash! I always limp with those hands, but it is worth seeing a flop in multiway action.

when you have 2 of the same card it’s very hard to get another one… so i don’t like playing pairs (if you only get 1 ace then you know there are 3 left, but if they deal you 2, it’s automatic fold, because you know there only 2 aces left)

I agree 100%

If we bottle what you have had we can make a lot of money together friend.


with any pair its 50 50 you will get a set, either you do or you don’t