Navigating through poker scenarios with small pocket pairs (22-55) can be tricky. Ideal situations—like seeing a Flop cheaply or beating someone holding a coveted pair of Aces—are rare. Whether you’re being proactive with a raise or facing one, playing small pocket pairs is seldom straightforward and demands strategic consideration.
Choosing to open-raise with a small pocket pair like 44 in early position (e.g., UTG, UTG+1) in a full ring game is typically asking for trouble, while being patient and folding is often wise. Yet, as your position improves, say, to the Cutoff, and no one has opened, it becomes more tempting and, at times, reasonable to open with such pairs. Here, you’re less likely to encounter a 3-bet and have a decent chance to win the pot uncontested. If you do get called by Blinds, having position throughout the rest of the hand can be a significant advantage, despite the inherent risks and reliance on flopping a set with small pocket pairs.
We face a raise
Facing a raise, particularly with small pocket pairs, isn’t as harmless as it might appear. While the prospect of flopping a set can be alluring, neglecting other factors, such as position and stack depth, is a mistake. Always ponder on position: what’s the likelihood of a 3-bet if you call in position? Even if calling in position can offer some ease and potentially maximize gains if a set is flopped, subsequent actions from other players can still jeopardize your situation.
Furthermore, considering the depth of effective stacks is vital. Given that hitting a set happens only about 1 in 8 times, cautiously choose against whom to set-mine, ensuring they have stacks ample enough to provide the right implied odds. Position remains pivotal; calling from Hijack, Cutoff, or Button might be logical due to a lower chance of being squeezed, while folding in early position against an open-raise is often the right move, barring strong evidence that a 3-bet is unlikely.