The Bigger the Pair, the Harder the Fold

I’m not a fan of big pocket pairs. Most people want to look down and see pocket Aces or Kings. They wait around all night for those big pairs. Me, I cringe. I’d rather see 6-7 suited. I’ll raise with small suited connectors just like I would with Aces. Then when the flop comes, the decisions are easy. If I miss the flop, I can make a continuation bet, which will take the pot more times than it won’t. And if someone raises me, I can fold with little thought, having lost only a small amount of chips. And on the big plus side, if I hit my hand, say two-pair or a flush or straight draw, I can gut someone with an overpair. Win big, lose small.

Pocket Aces and Kings are a bit trickier. Of course, I’m coming in for a raise preflop and the usual continuation bet no matter what the flop looks like. Usually they do fold and I’ll rake in a small pot, which works just fine for me, same as it would had I held 6-7 suited. But if someone raises me with a flop of Queen, 8, 2, it’s almost impossible to fold the Aces. But it’s very probable he flopped a set and I’m drawing to two outs.

I was playing a $5-$10 game at the Borgata and the table was pretty weak. They were all playing by-the-book poker and easy to read. I splashed around without much care of the cards I held, made all the correct decisions post-flop—raised when my opponents were weak and folded when they were strong, and built my stack to double my $1,000 buy-in, all without seeing a single big pocket pair or any of the usual top starting hands like Ace-King.

Then I looked down at pocket Aces on the button. Everyone folded to me and I made the standard raise to $30. The little blind folded and the big blind called. I nicknamed him Squints, because, well, he squinted a lot. The flop came down Queen, 8, 2. Squints checked and I bet $40, about two thirds of the pot. Squints went all-in immediately for almost $1,000, a huge overbet. My gut said he hit a set, probably 8s. I didn’t think he would do that with Ace-Queen or King-Queen. Still those Aces are tough to fold. But fold them I did. Face down of course; I wasn’t about to let anyone think they could run me out of a pot easily.

About an hour later, I hadn’t seen many good cards, which was just fine with me. I kept playing small ball and continued winning. I was on the button again and everyone folded to me, and I looked down at 6-7 of clubs. I raised to $30 just as I did when I had Aces. The little blind folded and Squints re-raised out of the big blind to $100. I was sure he had a big pair as he hadn’t raised preflop all night. I called knowing I had position and hoped to hit the flop hard. If I missed or only hit one pair or something, it was easy to only lose $100. The flop came down 6-6-King. Bingo. Squints bet out $200 telling me he definitely didn’t have pocket Kings (he would have checked Kings full for sure). I figured him for Aces and knew he wasn’t the sort to fold them, so I pushed all-in. Squints called immediately and showed his pocket Aces. “You got that King?” he hopefully asked.

“Nope,” I said, “got the six.”

Squints squinted at my cards then at the flop then back at my cards. “How do you call the raise with 7-high?” he mumbled. “It’s not like I can fold aces in that spot. Guy would have to be a moron to fold aces with that flop.” He squinted as the turn and river were no help and walked away shaking his head as I raked in the pot.