Out of all the casino games out there, Poker is the most strategic by far. For example, getting dealt pocket pairs is always a nice boost when you’re sitting at the blind, as it gives you a bit of added confidence before you even see the flop. But what do you do afterwards, if the two cards that make up your pair are better than the three cards on the table? This is where you need to start thinking about strategy, so let’s go through some important considerations:
1. Is it strong enough?
Coming up with a pair in poker is pretty likely, which is why it’s important you consider the game as a whole with what you have. Yes, your pair is better than any card on the board, but what have the others got? Is it possible that they could get a better pair by the river? It’s entirely possible no matter what you have, but if your pair is on the stronger side of things, 10 10 or higher say, then you can be confident that you’ve got a strong start. If you take this opportunity to bet aggressively and try to scare off anyone just hanging around with an overcard hoping to get lucky, you can root out what you’re dealing with in terms of opponents.
2. What does the river look like?
This is a pretty obvious bit of tactics but you need to keep your eye on what’s out on the board in order to minimise your risks. Even if you have a pair of aces, if the river is 6, 7, 8, you should be wary of someone betting heavy. It’s really easy to get caught up in the moment of finally being dealt an amazing pocket pair and trying to hang on regardless. With an overpair, you can have more confidence that what you have, statistically, sits above the rest of the hands that could come out but be very wary of the potential for 3 of a kind, a flush or any other hands that could trump yours. Which leads into the third major point.
3. Who are you playing with?
Everyone has a different approach to Poker and knowing how your opponents are going to react is a vital part to choosing your strategy. Obviously, with what feels like a powerful hand, you’re going to want to raise to maximise the pot: but how are your opponent’s reacting? If your opponents have been pretty relaxed and loose with their money so far then maybe be less concerned than if they’re been tight and continue betting aggressively. Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule for this and you’ll never know for absolute certain what your opponent has, but keeping an eye on them and their playing can be extremely instructive. Knowing when to fold, despite having such a strong hand, is a skill you’ll only gain through experience and it’s a hard lesson to learn.