Now LiveEvents
PokerStars Championship Prague
888poker
New poker experience at 888poker

Join now to get $88 FREE (no deposit needed)

Join now
PokerStars
Double your first deposit up to $400

New players can use bonus code 'STARS400'

Join now
partypoker
partypoker Cashback

Get up to 40% back every week!

Join now
Unibet
€200 progressive bonus

+ a FREE Unibet Open Qualifier ticket

Join now

Stud Strategy, Part Three - Low Pairs, Big Kickers

Stud Strategy, Part Three - Low Pairs, Big Kickers 0001

Ashley Adams has been playing poker since he learned it, literally, at his grandfather's knee 42 years ago. He's been a winning casino poker player for the past 11 years, playing primarily at Foxwoods Resort Casino but also in poker rooms all over the world. He has won at ring games and tournaments, at Stud, Stud8 and Hold Em, limit and no limit. He is the author of Winning 7-card Stud (Kensington, 2003) and over 100 articles about poker. He is due to publish Winning Baby No Limit Hold Em in 2006 and has recently been working with numerous charities on fundraising poker tournaments.

Another category of pairs that is playable, even when you're just starting out, are low pairs when you have a large kicker - an Ace or a King. These hands play well heads up but you must be careful to pick the right spots. Let me explain when and how you can play them.

You can play these hands in late position, with the bring-in near or at your left, when there hasn't been a raise and your hole cards and kicker are completely live. So, for example, if you have (3h-Ah)3d and the 2c is to your left, you can play this hand no matter how many players are in if it is just called to you, provided that the 3s and Aces are completely live. Call with this hand, knowing that the hand can't be raised after you, and that you will just be putting in a partial bet.

What you want is to hit either a 3 or an Ace on the next card. If you don't you will fold - unless of course there's no bet in which case you'll see the Fifth Street card for free.

In a loose passive game you can also call with this hand if you have only a couple or fewer players after you, and none of them is likely to raise. For example, let's say you are the sixth player to act after the bring-in and the hands you see are as follows:

Bring-in: (x-x)2d Brings it in for $2.00

Seat 2: (x-x)8c Folds

Seat 3: (x-x)Ks Calls $2.00

Seat 4: (x-x)Jd Calls $2.00

Seat 5: (x-x)6c Folds

YOU: {3-Hearts}{A-Hearts}3d ?????

Seat 7: (x-x)Jc

Seat 8: (x-x)4c

Yes, there are two players after you who may raise. But it's unlikely - unless you know one of them to be an especially wild and crazy player. The Jack, though a Premium card, is not very likely to have a pair of Jacks as one of his pairing cards is already out. The 4c is a low card - unlikely to produce a raise unless the player has a pair of Queens in the hole. You figure he's unlikely to exactly that hand and unlikely as well to have a pair of Kings or Aces in the hole since you have and Ace and another player already shows a King. You can call here as well.

You might think that since your low pair, high kicker hand plays better heads up against one other player that you might raise, to limit the field. But that would be a mistake. Think about how the hand would likely play out against typical loose passive players. While you might well knock out the Jc and the 4c, who might have called for $2.00, you'd be unlikely to knock out the bring-in, the Ks or the Jd who would be very likely to call the completed bet since they were already into the pot for $2.00. I'm not saying that their call would be correct. But in this type of game, players tend to think, "In for a penny, in for a pound" and call the completion once they have called the initial bring-in.

You could also play this hand if you were in late position and there had been a completion to $5.00 that had knocked out the other players, leaving you nearly last or last to act. For example:

Bring-in: (x-x)2d Brings it in for $2.00

Seat 2: (x-x)8c Folds

Seat 3: (x-x)Ks Raises to $5.00

Seat 4: (x-x)Jd Folds

Seat 5: (x-x)6c Folds

YOU: {3-Hearts}{A-Hearts}3d ?????

Seat 7: (x-x)Jc

Seat 8: (x-x)4c

Here, a call would probably be in order. Do you see why?

The reason is that the Jc and the 4c are unlikely to call the full $5.00 unless they have a real hand. For the same reasons enumerated above, you doubt the J has a pair and the 4 probably doesn't have a pair good enough to call a raise from the King. True, the 2d may call since he's in for the initial $2.00. Still, when you add in the possibility that the Ks was just raising as an ante-steal (maybe with another high card in the hole) with the dead money from the antes, the fact that you are roughly a 40:45:15 second favorite to win the hand (if you're against Kings and a slightly better than random hand like a 2d Qh Jh) your call makes good sense.

It would probably be a mistake to raise here, unless the ante structure were higher than the typical $.50 in this $5/10 limit game. The chance that you would be more likely to knock out the bring-in probably wouldn't justify the double bet. You'd be better off settling for a greater likelihood of having the bring-in call you, and then relying on your ability to extract extra money on Fourth Street if you hit a 3 or an Ace. If you hit anything else you'd fold on Fourth Street.

Remember, though, this low pair and high kicker isn't an automatic call. You'd certainly fold in any of the following situations:

Bring-in: (x-x)2d Brings it in for $2.00

YOU: {3-Hearts}{A-Hearts}3d ?????

Seat 3: (x-x)Kc

Seat 4: (x-x)4c

Seat 5: (x-x)8c

Seat 6: (x-x)Js

Seat 7: (x-x)Qd

Seat 8: (x-x)3c

Do you see what's different? For one, your 3s are not completely live. There's a 3 out at the 8 seat. For another there are three high cards yet to act after you who might well raise. This hand almost begs for a raise from either someone with a legitimate Premium Pair or someone seeking to represent such a hand in late position. Since the odds that you will catch either Trips or Aces up have gone down, because of the dead 3, and the odds that someone will make this a complete bet - and maybe even more than that if there's a raise in between your call and your next action — fold this hand and wait for better circumstances.

Similarly, you'd want to fold your hand in the following situation:

Bring-in: (x-x)2d Brings it in for $2.00

Seat 2: (x-x)Jc Complete to $5.00

YOU: {3-Hearts}{A-Hearts}3d ?????

Seat 4: (x-x)4c

Seat 5: (x-x)8c

Seat 6: (x-x)Ks

Seat 7: (x-x)Qd

Seat 8: (x-x)9c

Here, the bet is already completed before the action gets to you. Even though your cards are fully live, you have no reasonable assurance that the pot will not be raised after your call - perhaps raised and re-raised. You have no idea if many others will call the $5.00 either - so you may well have called for $5.00 only to find yourself in the severely disadvantageous position of facing a full table on Fourth Street. You don't want either of those scenarios to play out. So you're much better off folding here.

As you can see, low pairs with a high kicker, though a playable hand in some situations, requires some thought before you toss in your chips. Make sure you pick the right spots and you can play this hand for profit - as long as you are able to get away from it on Fourth Street if it doesn't improve.

Please visit our online poker room directory to see the best bonuses on the web!

More Stories

Other Stories

What do you think?