The first two cards in your poker hand which the other players cannot see are referred to as your Pocket Cards. Two cards of equal value dealt are called Pocket Pairs and can make a possible winning hand early on in the game and can give you a distinct advantage knowing that you have a decent pair before the flop is even turned.
Is that a Pair in Your Pocket?
However, more often than not pocket pairs are either under played or over played.
When underplayed, the player should have capitalised on the pair and made the winning pot much larger or over played where a player has been excited with a low value pocket pair, bet too highly and then lost the pot.
When playing pocket pairs, the player must focus on the chances of winning the hand. When you’ve been dealt a pair of twos may look like an ok start but unless a third one is turned up on the flop, turn or river, then the hand is likely to be beaten, at least by a larger pair of cards.
With a low value pair the best bet is to stay in the first round of betting but don’t raise the pot any. If before the flop, another person raises the bet, then fold. The chances are that the other players pocket cards are a higher pair or at least contain two high cards. At all times during subsequent betting rounds, be aware of the value of your hand and the chances of the other players having a better pair.
On the other hand, get dealt a pair of pocket Aces (often referred to as Pocket Rockets,) Kings, Queens or Jacks, then there is a good chance of winning the hand, either with a high pair or three of a kind. In this case, before the flop, whether you raise the betting any really depends on what the table has been doing and how the betting has been going. It may well be safer to wait until after the flop before raising the stakes – don’t scare the others off.
At this point watch for pairs appearing on the table as your opponents only require one matching card to make three of a kind. Watch also for possible flushes or straights.
If however, you do have a high pair and the flop only shows 3 lower value cards then it is quite acceptable to raise the bet, be cautious though as you don’t want to scare the other players away at this stage either – get as much money into the pot as possible if you’re planning on winning.
This pretty much goes for the forth card dealt as well, the turn card.
When the river card has been dealt, the last card leaving five cards on the table, if you are still in a commanding position, then this is your chance of raising the pot as far as you can before scooping the chips from the table! Those pocket pairs have done you proud.