How to Play Low Pocket Pairs

I was playing poker with some friends this weekend and we got into a discussion on how to play low pocket pairs. Here is my (simplified) approach:

Generally speaking, with ~6’s and lower, I like to just call a raise pre-flop, and fold to any 3-bet. You’re looking to hit a set, meaning you’re often folding post-flop if it doesn’t hit. You have ~12% chance of hitting the set on the flop – if you’re calling 3 bets (i.e. getting 10+ BB in the pot), you’re going to need to be getting at least 80+ BB when your set hits to break even. This may happen from time to time, but often won’t; and when you’re getting 3-bet preflop you’re at risk to be running up against a higher pocket pair. 

When the set fails to come pre-flop, I typically fold to significant betting action unless it’s heads up and I sense weakness or a draw; by re-raising or initiating betting you can push overcards off the hand (or make them pay too much to see the turn). 

If there are fewer people in the hand (2-3), I’ll typically play any pocket pair aggressively and look to raise frequently, even post flop, because the odds of anyone hitting flop is low, and I once again want to get overcards and draws to get out or pay. 

All of this is dependent on table positioning, the actual cards on the flop, and any reads you have on the opponent. But this is the basic strategy I typically use when playing Texas Hold ’em. 

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