Monday, March 24, 2008

$how Me the Money - Big Pocket Pairs

The charm of history and its enigmatic lesson consist in the fact that, from age to age, nothing changes and yet everything is completely different. ~Aldous Huxley

While the game of poker has changed over the last few years, it has also remained the same. People talk a lot about us internet guys that can learn in a few years what it used to take much longer to learn about poker. To some extent, it is true due to the volume of hands and experience one can gain on the internet. There has also been a tremendous renaissance of writing about poker from authors to bloggers to actual professionals. However, the ranking of hands, the number of cards in the deck, the number of cards one is dealt, the betting options one may exercise, the rules, etc. have remained the same. Thus, the best starting hands are the same as what they always were and the probability that they will win is still the same as it always was. Where am I going with this?

Upon careful examination of my data, I find that the hands I make the most money with are exactly the ones I would expect to make the most with.
My most profitable starting hands are (in this order):

1 A-A
2 K-K
3 Q-Q
4 J-J
5 10-10

Is anyone surprised? I am not. Each one of these starting hands considered individually has earned me more than all pairs 22 - 99 combined together. Additionally, consider this. Each one of these big pairs considered individually has earned me more than these four starting hands combined: A-Ks, A-Ko, A-Qs, and A-Qo. So, am I recommending that anyone stop playing these? Absolutely not. However, I am recommending that one should recognize these 5 pocket pairs are one’s “bread and butter”. If you are not 3-betting all of these and 4-betting the top three, you are probably not earning as much as you could be. You will not be dealt these hands very often so one should seek to maximize one’s EV with them at every opportunity. That means getting the most money into the pot as soon as possible. I like to get all in pre-flop with these hands whenever possible. Will you run into a cooler from time to time, yes, of course. But you will also put your opponents to the test and they will pay you off more often than you will be paying them off. That, my friends, is positive EV.
So, until next time, good luck at the tables.

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