It is always great to see a big pocket pair like AA, KK or QQ when you look down at your holecards in Texas Holdem. These top 3 pocket pairs are the best possible hands you can be dealt before the flop, and so you should expect to make a hefty amount of money from them throughout your poker-playing career. However, if you are not careful with these big pairs and if you do not exercise good strategy with them, these types of cards can easily lose you money when not play them correctly.
One of the biggest mistakes novice players make when playing big pairs is that they tend to slowplay them at every opportunity. Whilst it may be a good idea to play very strong hands on the odd occasion in poker, it is far too early to start slowplaying a hand before the flop, and by doing so you will just be allowing your opponents to improve on the flop and on future streets. Therefore whenever you are dealt a big pocket pair you should almost always raise before the flop to thin out the number of opponents and build the pot to increase the amount of money that you can win.
Now although AA, KK and QQ have been lumped into the same category here, I am going to split these hands up into two, and give a few basic strategy tips whilst playing them. I will firstly go through a good strategy for AA, and then I will go through tips on how to play KK and QQ well. The KK and QQ have been grouped together due to the fact that there is the possibility that overcards can appear on the flop, whereas this is not possible whilst holding AA. So lets move onto the strategy for each of these hands…
With a hand like AA, you always want to be looking to raise or re-raise before the flop. It is never good Texas Holdem strategy with AA to limp or simply call a raise because you are missing the opportunity to get more money into the pot with the best hand, and you are giving weaker hands the opportunity to overtake you on the flop. You shouldn’t be worried about the fact that players might fold and you win the pot uncontested at this point, as it is always better to win a small pot than lose a big one.
After the flop you should again look to keep the action flowing by betting and raising. You do not want to give anyone the correct odds to call for any straights, flushes or drawing hands at this point, so make sure you put them to a tough decision for their chips. However, there could be the possibility that one of your opponents has made a better hand than you on the flop, and so you should always be aware of the fact that you may no longer hold the best hand. But in spite of this, you will normally still be ahead and so you should continue to build the pot unless you have reason to believe otherwise.
When playing hands like KK and QQ, you should again be looking to bet and raise before the flop. It is very rare to come up against a better hand before the flop when holding either of these hands, so be happy to be betting and raising to reduce the number of players that will be joining you to see a flop. Many players say that you should never fold KK before the flop because by doing so you are losing money in the long run, and I have to say that I agree. You especially want to be limiting the number of players that you are up against with either of these hands because of the fact that opponents can easily make a better hand than you be hitting an overcard like an
Aces to make a bigger pair.
Now on the flop you will be in one of two situations; you will either be facing overcards or you won’t. If there are no overcards on the flop, you should continue to play the hand like you would do if you were holding aces, as both situations are quite similar. However, playing a big pocket pair when there are overcards on the board can be a little tricky. A good way to play is to bet like you feel you still have the best hand, and then evaluate where you stand after your opponent responds. It is unlikely that you will be winning a big pot any more in this situation, and if the pot does get big it is likely that you will be on the losing end. So be prepared to let the hand go if you come up against a lot of action.
On the final few streets with big pairs you should continue to build the pot unless you are quite sure that you are no longer ahead. If you haven’t improved by the turn or the river, you should remember that you still only hold 1 pair, which is by no means a monster hand. It is important to never get ‘married to the hand’ when you have a big pair, as they are by no means invincible.
Always consider the possibility that your opponent could have a better hand than you if they are also playing aggressively by betting and raising too. It is not easy to lay down a big pair, but you have to learn to do so when you genuinely believe that you no longer hold the winning hand.