Playing Middle Pocket Pairs In Poker

by admin | posted in Poker articles

Pocket Pairs Strategy

Middle pocket pairs in poker can be both profitable and troublesome. The key to playing middle pocket pairs (and most hands in general) is to adjust your play according to each situation. People often ask for all-in-one answers for hands like these, but there is no one way to play a hand.

The good news is that we do have a few tips for playing middle pocket pairs in poker. These tips will not walk you through every situation you’ll ever face, but they will explain how you should think while at the table. With these tips in mind, you will then be able to correctly adjust your play to each situation.

Middle Pocket Pairs Before the Flop

The correct play before the flop depends on your position, the number of opponents in the hand, the playing styles of your opponents and stack sizes. This may sound like a lot to consider, but that’s how winning poker players analyze each situation. Let’s break it down and explain how to play in each situation.


I like to raise middle pocket pairs from every position in an average 6-max no limit game. In early position, it helps thin the field and mix up my early position raising range. In middle and late position, it helps to take control of the hand and will often set me up to have position on the remaining players.

Number of Opponents in the Hand

This plays a big role in my decision to raise or limp in. If there are several people already in the pot, I will often limp in and see if I can hit a big hand in a multi-way pot. If there are only one or two people in the pot, I will often raise to either knock them out or get it heads up and to take control of the hand.

Playing Styles of Your Opponents

You can use the playing styles of your opponents as an indication of how easy it will be to win the pot after the flop. If you’re up against a bunch of calling stations, raising may show some value, but it is much easier to just limp in and hit big hands for cheap. If the opponents are tight and willing to fold, I put in a preflop raise because I know there is a good chance I can win the pot later by betting.

Stack Sizes

Stack sizes mostly come into play when someone else has raised or re-raised and you are deciding between calling and folding. Middle pocket pairs do not play well against aggression because so many scare cards can come on the flop. But one thing they have going for them is the ability to hit sneaky sets.

If both stacks are deep, it is OK to call with a middle pocket pair and hope for a set. But if the stacks are shallow or the raise is especially large, there is no good reason to call. You will not hit your set and win a big pot often enough to make up for all the money you spend calling large raises with middle pocket pairs.

After the Flop

If you play correctly before the flop, middle pocket pairs are pretty easy to play after the flop. Much of how you play depends on your opponents, but it also depends on how you played the hand before the flop. Here are two basic scenarios:

You Were the Aggressor

If you were the aggressor before the flop, the correct play is to bet out on every flop when up against one or two opponents. If there are more than two opponents, you should only bet if you hit a legitimate hand.

You Were the Caller

If someone else raised or you simply limped in, a more straightforward approach is recommended. You do not have control of the hand and do not look strong, so bluffing is harder to pull off. The best play here is to bet if you hit something and get out of the way if you miss.


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