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How do you read pocket pairs?

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  • How do you read pocket pairs?

    Played an interesting hand the other night. I was dealt AQ off suit in the BB. Everybody folds except one guy who limps in with the blind. The flop is 2 A 9. I have top pair (aces) so I match the pot. Other player matches as well. Next card is a 5 which is no help to me, but I need to lead so I double the previous bet. Player again matches. This makes me think he has Aces too and could out kick me. The river is a Q which gives me two pair. I now raise with half my remaining stack. He doubles that to put me all in. I call and he has pocket 2's to win. Was this bad play or bad luck?

  • #2
    I check back the turn a lot here, because you only have one pair. And villains aren't as dumb as you would probably hope (I always hope my opponents are dumb :P). If they're willing to call a flop and turn barrel, they'll often have a pretty good hand. If you check the turn, and they barrel the river, it's an easy call unless they make it massive. If you bet the turn, then they can checkraise the turn or just shove the river no problem, and your one pair all of a sudden looks a lot weaker.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Johnny Oak View Post
      Played an interesting hand the other night. I was dealt AQ off suit in the BB. Everybody folds except one guy who limps in with the blind. The flop is 2 A 9. I have top pair (aces) so I match the pot. Other player matches as well. Next card is a 5 which is no help to me, but I need to lead so I double the previous bet. Player again matches. This makes me think he has Aces too and could out kick me. The river is a Q which gives me two pair. I now raise with half my remaining stack. He doubles that to put me all in. I call and he has pocket 2's to win. Was this bad play or bad luck?
      'Reading" a flopped set is one of the hardest things to do in poker. On an un-coordinated board like this (assuming there were no suits) a set is nearly un-beatable except by another higher set of course. This is why it is such a good hand to slow play in the right circumstances. While entirely "imperfect" in terms of saving your MTT "life", about the only thing you can do is fall back on your reads of his prior play.

      There is a "universal tell" that all poker players have, that is "if they think they hold the best hand, they WILL put chips into the pot."

      When the turn blanks here, I see no reason why you should not lead out again, but when you lead you must be aware that the villain has called a raise after leading. That usually means some strength. This is about the ONLY "key" you are likely to have versus most players that your top pair/2nd kicker is behind, nd it often is not going to be enough to save you (unless you start on VERY deep money, and the Villain check/raises strong).

      About the only other thing I can think of which might clue you into to a set is if there was a "dis-connect" in the Villain's play. Was he a highly aggressive player, who leads smaller than normal, then simply flats your raise? Was he a normally passive player who leads out "normally", then flats a raise? These are the sorts of "dis-connects" which may signal extreme strength. Again, they are not "perfect", and are certainly no guarentee you are, or are not, beaten.

      The fact you did barrel in the hand twice, into a pretty dry board, should be something of a clue to you as well. Depending upon how deeply you are invested to that point, you are not really going to want to be launching a committing bet very often into any but the most "station-y" opponents. So to be honest with you, I do not think when the Q comes on the river there is a lot of "hope" you are not at least getting crippled in this hand, but by not firing the river there is a decent shot you might not go 100% bust-o.

      This is why playing out of postion, even with an otherwise "strong" hand like AQ, can be very very difficult.
      Double Bracelet Winner

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      • #4
        Originally posted by JDean View Post
        This is why playing out of postion, even with an otherwise "strong" hand like AQ, can be very very difficult.
        Just pointing out that the hero was in position in this hand.

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        • #5
          Was just a statement.

          One of the big positional "strengths" is that slow plays become easier to read. Not always easy, but easier...
          Double Bracelet Winner

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          • #6
            I miss sets like these all the time with the slow-roll ... uggghhhhhh. So I'm trying to work through this situation too, see if there's anything different I can do to minimize the losses. Kind of a work in progress

            Sometimes I wonder if part of the problem might be that I bet too often to be believable, so in that way I'm setting myself up. So there's that.

            And then yeah, the 'hidden' thing when it comes to sets ... I've been trying to 'train' myself to always be thinking of sets, especially anytime the board 'appears' to flop dry and somebody check-calls? Especially if (1) There was a pre-flop raise and the person keeps check-calling, and there's an A on the board perhaps? Or (2) When the 'villain's in the blinds, and they could have anything.

            When blind versus blind or heads-up, I've found that sometimes it helps to raise pre-flop to find our where you're at - but sometimes it doesn't, especially at the levels I play (micro). One time I had something like JJ, and I raised pre-flop and somebody in the blinds called, and the flop came something like 754, and it turns out they had 86o. They had a small stack too - you see the most surprising things sometimes. I'd like to have my game get to the point where I'm at least noticing the possibility that the 'villain's well ahead, even if it's a real longshot?

            Work in progress I guess - just some random thoughts
            Last edited by TrustySam; Mon Jul 25, 2011, 02:35 AM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by TrustySam View Post
              Sometimes I wonder if part of the problem might be that I bet too often to be believable, so in that way I'm setting myself up.
              That's something that alot of seasoned players look for. If you're doing it, you really need to change things up or you'll be a target, for sure.

              For me, it's something that I intentionally look for and will exploit any chance that I get.
              Super-Moderator



              6 Time Bracelet Winner


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              • #8
                Originally posted by JWK24 View Post
                That's something that alot of seasoned players look for. If you're doing it, you really need to change things up or you'll be a target, for sure.

                For me, it's something that I intentionally look for and will exploit any chance that I get.
                Definately agree...

                The way to exploit overly aggro bettors is not to raise them more, but rather to CALL a lot more.

                Betting too often, especially on every street, will really increase the implied odds you are giving not jsut to "flop monsters" like sets, but will also make suited connector draws a lot more profitable against you. Aware palyers definately know this, and will tend to semi bluff you whenever you slow down (on their strong draws), and this can really lead to difficult situations for your 1 pair hands.
                Double Bracelet Winner

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                • #9
                  I have to disagree with whether in the NET it's a plus to sit around and wait to slowplay. Because slowplay hands just don't happen enough for nits to make back what they lose by folding or playing cautious every time they don't have the absolute edge.

                  I've tried it both ways, and I do make more by ranging and betting when I think I've got the best hand ... just my personal experience though ...

                  I was just saying that my ranging is incomplete, that's all. So when I bet, sometimes it's a spew ...
                  Last edited by TrustySam; Mon Jul 25, 2011, 05:38 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by TrustySam View Post
                    I have to disagree with whether in the NET it's a plus to sit around and wait to slowplay. Because slowplay hands just don't happen enough for nits to make back what they lose by folding or playing cautious every time they don't have the absolute edge.

                    I've tried it both ways, and I do make more by ranging and betting when I think I've got the best hand ... just my personal experience though ...

                    I was just saying that my ranging is incomplete, that's all. So when I bet, sometimes it's a spew ...
                    No one is saying NEVER bet, but if you bet every street all the time, you become highly exploitatable.
                    Double Bracelet Winner

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                    • #11
                      I think you two might be projecting some of your own frustrations onto me or something, and are imagining there to be something there that isnt. Because I'm nowhere NEAR that aggro or reckless.

                      Most of my bets are value-bets, with a couple of calculated bluffs on occasion. I'm just saying that sometimes I'm betting a flopped pair of 4's with two overs, because I have a read, etc. Which nits rarely do - they always do the 'position' thing, which is HIGHLY predictable - I've called with J high and won against that move.

                      I mean look - the difference between poker and blackjack are the elements of aggression and deception. People use them because when used properly, along with strategy, they're +EV.

                      Also, that's not to say that I don't use slow-playing and check-raising either - when the time is right, so that's making some of the money back, since technically we should all be receiving slow-play hands roughly about the same amount of time. I mean like it's the hand most of the time and not the villain that gives rise to the opportunity to slow-play in situations like the o/p - is somebody not supposed to bet with TP, TK? I agree with panicky though - the check-call might have been a red flag for the o/p - and the check-raise on the river definitely was one.
                      Last edited by TrustySam; Mon Jul 25, 2011, 06:56 AM.

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                      • #12
                        lol how do u read when some one flops a set and your oop haha ususally u go broke with top 2 thats what happens unless u have a very good read and are deep enough to afford to fold...........

                        i would stop donk betting to that helps heheh

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