You are holding a pair - now what?

Have you ever hold a pair in a Texas Hold’em and wondered if your hand is good enough? I’m sure you have. But at the end of the day a pair is just a pair.

You can calculate your outs and keep your eyes open at the table (and this is something you should do in any case), but I want to talk to you about a tool that many don’t even know about.

The Gordon Pair Principle by Phil Gordon. Have you heard about it? I didn’t think so. But here’s what it is:

Let’s say you are holding pocket nines, and four more players act after you. We call these players with a variable N so in this case N=4. There are five bigger pairs than our nines (TT, JJ, QQ, KK, AA) and we call this variable as R, so R=5.

Then follows a simple math equation. We multiple N with R (4 x 5) and divide the result with 2.
So 4 times 5 equals 20, divided by 2 is 10. In this situation the theoretical probability that any of the four players acting after you has a bigger pair is ten percent.

Let’s do another example. You are holding 77 and six players act after you. What’s the math?

N=6 and R=7. 6x7=42. 42 divided by 2 is 21. The likelihood that any player acting after you has a larger pair is 21%

It is important to point out that this tool provides no universal truths. If any player acting before you makes a raise you should always adjust accordingly. And as with everything in poker the decision making always depends on many factors. This is just one more tool to your arsenal. What you do with your pair is up to you.

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But at the end of the day a pair is just a pair.

That’s the best thing to take away from it really. It don’t matter what you get dealt, it’s all about what the board gives you.

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Hi Naforole

Nice topic

These sort of multiplications are for math geniuses which i am not and i would know how to implement these ideas into my game but still its cool info.

Of course we all like strong starting pairs but no matter what you have pre there is alot of re evaluating on later streets.

look forward to hearing if any other understand these theories more.

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Indeed it is @BeerEagle69

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The point is it gives you some good guidance for whether I should Raise, call, or fold. Playing AA or KK is easy but 33 with 3 limpers in front and 4 waiting to play behind can be a tough spot particularly if you are short stacked or close to the bubble. Granted you dont have a ton of time to make a decision on this site but this tool gets you some quick info you can use.

There are a lot of variables, position, chip stack and as @southwestmba said, reading the table is most important.
I fold a lot of pocket pairs below the 99 level and sometimes only come in with 99 if I read a week table, or we are six handed and its final table. Then it is a powerhouse from the right spot.
Small pairs when playing on a 9 handed table are button and hot seat hands, not to be played from the field unless you are running hot, or let limp in and hit the flop. if you do hit the flop you have to make a decision to trap or bet big both have risks.

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2 poket pairs and 104k chips for me on this hand. 65o won. Nice.

And the needed chips to reach “the money” for me. It was a nice playing at this table. I had folded to a preflop raise.
Sorry, mama.

thanks for the tip , interesting to know approximately these odds . Personally i play QQ or smaller pocket pair extremely conservatively , i have found myself many times against overpair or even worse , against a set . last time in a 109\$ it was my QQ vs his set of tens in a 10 high board no draws . i lost . i prefer set mines , its safer than just a pair , even a high pocket pair , KK or AA .

Thanks for the interesting topic. It gives me something else to think about when decided whether to enter a pot and whether to call or raise. It really drives home the importance of position and being much more careful with pocket pairs when out of position (kind of back to the “no set, no bet” adage) and gives the math to prove how likely it is you are already way behind!

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any pair can be a winner & any pair can get beat…regardless of what pair i have I either check or will call a "min-raise’…the flop is the key for me…besides…by nature I prefer to “slow-play”…

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A pair is just a pair but it all depends on how you play it. Actually you can take any 3 cards and turn them into a winning hand. This is where your bluffing skills come into play.

speical thanks to PHIL GORDON - i heard about a similiar math conclusion but not connected to poker ;-)!
In my opinion there are many situations where you have to fold pairs, like your example with pocket 7´s - when you have 4 villains calling behind your bet just to see flop - you dont have to be a math expert that somebody of the 4 villains is holding a better hand than yours because if he hit on flop a 8 or higher its enough to beat you.
So i think it is necessary that you get trips, on flop it would be perfect to control pot size and try to figure out ranges from the villains.
Pairs like 7´s or smaller i would play not aggressive against such many villains, if there is only one or 2 of them then it could be a weapon to push but if you dont hit the flop your opponent is in a good position if you make no c-bet and play it seriously.
Pairs 8´s - 10´s are a bit better but in most cases i would play them 65% same style like pair of 5-7´s.
Just pairs like Jacks or higher you can play more agressive but in relation to the strength of your opponents - so overthink if you want to make a 3-Bet or raise when a maniac reacts with a reraise or all in and you´re committed if your stack is only average or smaller.

I am with you on this.

I pray to Lucky Lucy the beautiful poker goddess of hold ‘em for 2 of whatever I have!

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If you try and play a real life, real poker for money strategy on this site, it will drive you crazy. Like today, the shuffle and deal has been 4 suited to the board 60% of the time since I started playing this morning. This site goes into flushmode and that is how you have to play.hole cards suited ? Go for it because that’s todays mode. I just had 3 aces and was beat by a player who played a 8-2 suited all the way to the river, and of course the river produced his flush. This Isn’t poker, its entertainment and it will ruin your cash game from the inside out.

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You absolutely can not play like this is real poker or you will lose every time. If you bet on pocket Aces you will lose to 2 3 off suit every time.you know a site cheats when you have dominant hand almost every time but people call or bet with nothing and end up winning the hand.In a fair game real players would never consider playing hands that people win with on this site that tells me this site cheats

well, I know the Phil Gordon’s rule, it’s an old strategy rule, but I do not base my decisions preflop according to this rule. I like to take decisions according to what type of opponents I have, stack sizes, whether I’m playing cash games or tournament, etc.

In tournaments I am quite careful with the small pairs. I do not like opening pairs from 55 to 22 from the early position at the early stages of the tournament. In cash games I maybe think different. But when it comes to calling 3bets with pairs, I will follow the odds=15 to 1 stack I will call.

i fold every thing on replay especially group A cards play 8-3 10 -2 K-2 A anything except when its with K Q J garbage is king

There are few better feelings than holding a pair of deuces from the get-go, going with the flow, and landing that third on the river when you know you are playing against a pair of bullets. BAZINGA!

Except for those times the pair of bullets was actually three. :Oopsy!

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unless you have a full hand or 4 of a kind you are going down !!!
You can win with a pair 2" if you get lucky!!