Ok, now here’s where the play gets a bit more tricky. These hands are pretty delicate, yet still playable.
Group 5: 66 55 44 33 22 KJ QTs A9s A8s QJ
Now, by this point, we’ve drastically departed from Sklansky and the Carnegie Mellon group’s hand groupings.
Both parties above have 18 hands in their Group 5. I’ve broken out my top 11 from Carnegie’s 18 hands and
rearranged the order based on my strategy and how I play these hands.
For these Group 5 hands, I may raise small ($1-$2) only
from late position, only against no opposition or very little opposition. In early position, I will limp in with the
pocket pairs, and maybe KJ if I think I can get away with it. The other hands are only played in mid to late positions, preferable only late position.
Against raises, I will only call small raises with the pocket pairs (usually $.50-$1.50), and the other hands I will usually fold to any raise. If I have already limped
in, and the bet is raised, I will again only call small raises, like minimum raises, otherwise I will lay it down. Again, this
all depends on the number of opponents in the pot and my position. The more the number of opponents, and the later my
position, the more willing I am to call small raises.
There are a couple of important points from my personal strategy that I’d like to reiterate. The first is that if the pot is to be raised pre-flop,
I want to be the one doing the raising. Otherwise, I’m looking to get out of the hand. (Read those last two
sentences one more time!)
It’s easy to just limp in and then call a raise since you have $.50 already invested, but that one simple mistake
could cost you big. A mediocre hand is easily dominated by a hand that is strong enough to raise the pot, placing
you at a huge disadvantage.
This leads to my second point. It is very important to realize the strength of your cards
and AVOID BEING IN A DOMINATED POSITION. A big part of No limit Texas Holdem is the game of domination,
which very simply means having better cards than your opponents to give you a better chance of winning.
You are looking to catch
players in a dominated state, while not getting caught having your hand dominated.
Being dominated means having 3 or less outs against
another hand. So, let’s take a look at QJ as an example:
QJ is dominated by AQ, KQ, AJ, KJ, and also by AA, KK, QQ, and JJ.
Now, there are 12 possible ways to get dealt AQ, KQ, AJ, and KJ, 6 possible ways to
be dealt AA, KK, and 3 possible ways to be dealt QQ, and JJ.
So, in terms of exact combinations of these hands,
there are 66 specific hands that will have QJ dominated.
QJ is an underdog to AQ, KQ, AJ, KJ at about 26% vs 74%.
QJ is an underdog to AA and KK at about 15% vs 85%.
QJ is an underdog to QQ at about 11% vs 88%.
QJ is an underdog to JJ at about 33% vs 67%.
Obviously, by looking at the percentages above, you are in big trouble if your hand is dominated, and 66 hands
will do that to you.
Now, comparing QJ to KJ, KJ is dominated by much less hands (AK, AJ, AA, KK, QQ, JJ), which totals only
42 specific hands.
So, you can see how much stronger KJ is over QJ. 77 is only dominated by 88, 99, TT, JJ, QQ, KK, and AA,
which totals 42 specific hands.
Ok, so hopefully you get the point. A hand like QJ may look appealing, especially after an hour of getting dealt
72o over and over again. After closer inspection though, you can see how delicate and beatable this hand is, so you
should be very careful calling raises with these mediocre hands.
Getting back to these Group 5 hands, I will play all the pocket pairs from any position and the rest only in mid to late positions, usually just limping in and very willing to lay them down
to any demonstration of strength.
If I am playing on a tough, tight table (which is not the norm for me because I usually just leave), then I
do not play any of the hands beyond the pocket pairs unless I’m in late position only. I think that’s all I have for this grouping, we’re
in the tough sections now. It’s easy to play awesome cards, but here is where your strategy and experience
will make or break you.
Ok, now let’s get back to discussing the pocket pairs, which is the first half of Group 5. Low pairs are not rags!
These could be very powerful hands if you hit the set on the flop. And if
you do not hit the set, you are looking to get out of the hand. It’s very simple to play these first five
hands of Group 6, and they can be very profitable.
The odds of hitting the 3-of-a-kind or better is about 12%, so let’s round that up and
say for every 8 low pocket pairs you play, you’ll hit the set or better on one hand.
Now if you can limp in on all eight hands, that will cost you $4.00 (8 * $.50). But then on that eighth
hand, when you’ve flopped trips, you will most likely be the huge favorite to win that hand, and you will
also most likely take down a very nice pot. Hitting trips with these pocket pairs gives you an extremely
powerful hand that is practically undetectable. So, when you do hit that hand, will you be able to make
back that $4.00 previously invested to see the flop? Easily!!! If a flop comes like A 6 2, and you’re holding
pocket 66’s, one of your opponents will most likely call you all the way down if they are holding the Ace.
With a little deception (slow-play, check-raise), you may even be able to get your opponent to go all-in against you!
Because of the simplicity of playing these low pairs, and the implied odds associated with hitting that set
on the flop, I will usually call small raises with these hands.
So, if each pair now costs me $1 to see the flop, I would need to make at least $8 when I do hit. Again, I think
this is not only possible, but most likely. However, if the table is tough, tricky, or very tight, calling raises with these
low pairs could be asking for trouble. What if, in the above scenario with the A 6 2 flop, your opponent raises $1, and you call, but this time your opponent is holding AA?
Now, you’ll be the one losing your entire
So, here is how I play these first five hands – I try to see the flop for cheap, which means limping in or calling small
raises. If the raises are any larger, you have to use your best judgment, considering your opponent who raised,
the number of opponents in the pot, and your opponents’ chip stacks. One of the strategies on calling raises
with mid to low pocket pairs is that the call should be automatic if the raise is 10% of your chip stack (ie – if you sit down with $25, automatically call up to $1.25
and automatically fold if raise is greater than $2.50). But you also need to consider your opponent’s chip stack – does he
have enough chips to pay you off if you hit trips, can he cover your all-in?
And if there are multiple opponents in the pot, does the
pot + the potential justify making the call? So, in the case of where the raise is between 5% and 10% of your
chip stack, this is where you must consider all these facets to make the right decision.
If I miss the set or better on the flop, I look to get out of the hand at any
show of strength. If there is a small bet post flop, like $.50, then I will consider my pot odds (I have 2 outs,
so I have a 8.4% shot of hitting my trips over the turn and river). In most cases, I fold these hands after the flop.
Go back to our main starting hand groupings to see how this group fits in with the others.