Playing Medium Pairs in No-Limit Holdem
Playing medium pairs in NL can be one of the toughest things a beginning player has to do. The last thing a novice player wants is to be put in more marginal situations than necessary. The medium pairs from 77-JJ can be very tricky to play, and require a great deal of judgment to be played profitably.
With the higher spectrum of these pairs you will usually want to raise when coming into a pot. If you hold JJ or TT you don't want to let someone into the pot cheaply, because at the lower limits players will be limping in with hands like Kx and Ax. You don't want to let these players get a cheap flop, giving their one over card a chance to beat you.
Generally the medium pairs can't stand a re-raise, however novice players will frequently call a re-raise out of position with these hands after they have made a pre-flop raise. Talk about marginal situations, now you are in a re-raised pot with your opponent having position on you.
The reason these hands can’t really stand a re-raise is that if you are behind, you will need to flop a set. Many players will only re-raise QQ-AA and AK. Since the set only will only come every one in 7 1/2 times, this is not a very profitable situation for you to be in.
On the other hand when you are in position on an opponent who is raised, you may want to re-raise with TT or JJ, in order to take control of the hand. This will usually induce your opponents to check to you on the flop. If it comes all over cards, you may decide to check instead of betting and risking getting check-raised. You must be careful when flopping over pair with these hands also, because if someone is willing to give you a lot of action, there is a good chance your one pair is no good, even if it is bigger than any card on the board.
The lower spectrum of the medium pocket pairs is little bit easier to play. You are basically trying to flop a set with these hands. You shouldn’t normally raise 77 or 88 however, unless you are in middle to late position. The reason is the same as above, that these hands cannot stand a re-raise. From early position there are too many players left to act behind you who may re-raise because of their position or their hand, and you will have little to no idea where you stand when the flop comes out.
In the blinds, if it is you against one other player, you should be raising all of these pairs. Any pair is a very good hand in a blind on blind situation.
Medium pairs can be tough to play because most times you aren't going to hit a set on the flop. A decent flop for medium pairs would be an open ended straight draw. In this situation however you must remember that if you hit your set on the turn, there will be four cards to a straight on the board, and if you hit your, straight it will never be the nuts.
The only way to get a good feel for how to play the medium pairs is experience. Play them with caution, don't overvalue an overpair if you flop one, and try to keep your marginal situations to a minimum. It won't be long before you are playing like the pros.