As a poker newb one of the challenges that I face in each session is playing baby pocket pairs. After much trial and tribulation I have developed a 3-step guide to how to play them profitably. Read on below to learn how to crush the other players at your table with your baby pocket pairs.
How to Play Baby Pocket Pairs (for Newbs)
If you’re not sure how to play your baby pocket pairs, just follow the three tips below. You can’t go wrong.
1. Shove All In Preflop (Even With a Deep Stack)
If you’re not sure how to play your baby pocket pairs, the easiest strategy to implement is to shove your hand all in pre-flop.
There are many benefits to using the strategy:
- You avoid having to ever learn how to play baby pairs post-flop.
- If you’re called it’s possible that you’ll win and double up.
- You turn your hand face up so that everyone knows what you have, therefore they can get out of your way. The majority of the time you’ll only be called by better hands.
- You get to enjoy the swings that come with taking frequent 50/50’s and 60/40s.
- You avoid being out-flopped by an over pair.
- Shoving all in with a deep stack maximizes your fold equity.
You just can’t go wrong with shoving all in pre-flop with your baby pairs. You’ll never have to fold them again.
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2. Set It or Forget It Play It Anyway
Set it or forget it is a strategy where you call pre-flop with the intent to hit a set, and if you don’t, you fold your hand.
This is a dumb strategy.
First of all, if you called pre-flop with a made hand, then why would you just fold on the flop? You have a pair, so you probably have the best hand. After all, your opponent is going to miss the flop two-thirds of the time.
Not only that, but even if the other guy does bet, he could just be trying to represent one of the over cards on the flop. Especially if he is the last guy to act in a multi-way pot. Calling here is definitely the right play because you don’t want to let him pick up a cheap pot. And you never know, you might turn or river trips and really catch him by surprise.
And if he bets again on the turn, just shove your stack down his throat. He’s just a total fish if he calls with top-pair, mid-kicker anyway.
3. Baby Blocker Bet to Showdown
Through trial and error I have found that it can be hard to play baby pocket pairs out of position. Since our opponent was the one who raised pre-flop, they just feel the need to bet, bet, bet. I have just the strategy to counter that.
What I do is place blocker bets. These are tiny bets that are made to prevent our opponent from betting himself. For example, if there are 500 chips in the pot, and I’m the first to act, I will place a 50 chip bet in the pot.
This bet lets my opponent know that I have a hand that I want to go to showdown with. Sometimes this can also mean that I have a draw. When I do this, he knows just to call.
Sometimes your opponent will raise your blocker bet. In these situations go ahead and call. Since we made the first bet and it was small, we prevented him from making the first raise which could have been bigger. So go ahead and call since it’s cheaper overall. I think a lot of these guys raise these small bets anyway just because they think we’re weak.
Little do they know that we actually have a made hand.
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Editors Note – Just Jokin’
This was a (poor) attempt at some humor. Do not read this article and go out and do what it says. The advice is bad. In fact, you should do the opposite of what was suggested here. In other words:
- You should never shove your baby pairs pre-flop. You turn your hand face up. The only hands you’ll be called by are hands better than yours, or hands that you’re flipping with. It’s a volatile strategy.
- Set it or forget it is a good strategy. By forgetting it or dumping your hand when you miss your set, you minimize the amount of money you lose by trying to get to showdown. There are exceptions, but if you are out of position, a newb and/or you can’t play post-flop, you’re much better off dumping your hand if you miss.
- Making baby blocker bets is pointless. 50 chips into a 500 chip pot only invites calls from guys who have draws. The guys that raise put you in a position where you’re not sure if you have the best hand or not.
Hopefully this gives you an amusing look at how not to play baby pocket pairs. If you can find it in yourself to avoid the temptation to play baby pairs like most newbs do (like the outlined “guide” above), that you lose chips, stacks or games much, much less.