Holding Second Pair: Second Pair means that the second highest card on the flop matches with one in your hand to make a Pair. Now, only a player with top Pair, or an overpair, is likely to be beating you. Top Pair is always reassuring but, quite often, no one hits anything much on the flop and the second highest Pair is winning the hand. There are also chances to turn your hand into 2 Pair or Trips. Betting with second Pair can be dangerous, but it can also reap rewards.
You hold A(S),J(S)
and the flop comes K(C),J(D),2(S)
You might choose to check if you are in early position but, later on, a bet would be in order. If no player holds a king, you may win the pot immediately. If a player holds a king with a low kicker, say K(D),7(C) (you would not be in the hand with that holding of course – unless you were the Big Blind), you may frighten him off, making him believe that you also hold a king and probably with a higher kicker.
If you do get called, you have several ways to improve your hand. An ace would give top 2 Pair, another jack would make you Trips, and another spade would give you the Nut Spade Flush draw (if a spade comes on the river you would then have the best possible Flush).
If an opponent raises your bet, you might well choose to lay down your hand. He is likely to hold a king with a good kicker and that means you will be betting against the odds.
Intention: a pre-emptive strike to push out intermediate hands, with some possible draws to improve your hand to a definite winner.
When the Flop Pairs: The flop pairing – that is to say when a Pair appears on the flop – brings tears to even the most robust players’ eyes, since any player matching the flop’s paired card suddenly holds Trips and is likely to win the pot easily. A paired board (or flop) can also lead to Full Houses overtaking Flushes and casts doubt on all your usual thoughts.
The standard way of betting on a paired board would be as follows:
• If you match the Pair on the board and have made Trips, or better still a Full House, you have made a hand which is very unlikely to be beaten whatever appears on the turn or river. With such a strong hand, it is safe to check to allow other players to stay in the hand, hopefully improve and then feel that it is worth betting or calling your bet later, hence increasing your chances of winning more from the other players.
You hold A(D),J(D)
and the flop comes A(S),J(C),J(S)
You hope that an opponent might also have a jack in his hand – giving him Trips – or that an opponent has two spades in his hand and subsequently makes a spade Flush. You will beat either of those hands, and you want to give your opponents a chance to make them. Then, when you bet (or they bet) you will get more action and therefore more money out of them.
Intention: lie in wait with the best hand and hope that other players bet or call your bets later.
• If you match the odd card, so making 2 Pair, it is usually right to bet at this stage, because you have 2 Pair when your opponents do not. You do not want them to see the turn or river in case those cards are higher and match with their hands.
You hold A(C),9(C)
and the flop comes 9(D),6(H),6(C)
You now hold 2 Pair but, if you check and allow the turn and river to be dealt, you may see a card higher than the 9 appear.
Intention: win the pot there and then, or make your opponents pay to see cards against the odds
If, when you make this play, you are raised, you will have to judge whether your opponent holds Trip 6s, or whether he too holds a 9 in hand. If he does, you have the best possible kicker to go with it. Finally, of course, it is possible that he holds a higher Pair in the hole, maybe two 10s or two jacks. If you believe this to be so, you should fold.
A paired board is a fearful situation to the inexperienced. However, this in itself can be an advantage to you. In poker, fear is vital: you can read it in your opponents’ faces and in their play. To succeed, you must be fearless. I have made a good deal of money betting paired boards strongly. Imagine you are close to the button.
You hold A(D),10(D)
and the flop comes 9(S),9(H),4(C)
everyone checks around to you so you bet the value of the pot.
You are suggesting that you hold a 4 in your hand and that you now hold 2 Pair. Often, everyone folds and you win. If you get called, beware. The caller is likely to hold an overpair (higher than the 4) or a 9 in his hand. If you get called, you can give up on subsequent rounds.
Your security is that you have two overcards – cards that are higher than those on the board – so if the turn shows a 10 or an ace, you may well have the best hand. Generally, to bet in this situation with overcards is sound, but not when there are possible Straight and Flush draws which could destroy your hand, even if you improve, later on.
Many top players might try this action in any position around the table.
Intention: to bluff your way into picking up the pot.
I have a simple rule when calling with low Pairs. If the flop produces two or more overcards (cards which are higher than my paired cards), I don’t commit any more money to the pot. If there is only one overcard, I may continue pursuing it and if, by some good fortune, all the flop cards are lower than my paired cards, that will be the time to go in with a big raise and try to win the hand there and then, before threatening overcards hit the flop which may beat my hand.
You hold 7(C),7(D)
and the flop comes Q(H),9(S),4(C)
It is just too likely someone holds a Pair of queens or 9s. Fold if there is a raise.