How to Play Hold em Starting Hand: Middle Pairs

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This article is in a series of articles that will look at various starting hands you can get in hold’em and what to do with them. It will focus mainly on preflop play, and will cover a normal 9 handed No limit game were you have an average chip size and a reasonable read on other players. While these articles do focus on no limit play, the principles can be applied to limit and pot limit games.

We will look at what you should do with these hands in the following 3 positions early, which is 1st or 2nd person to act, late position on the button or 1 off it, or in middle position.

Early Position:

When I get these middle sized pairs in an early position I will usually raise with them. I will raise 3 to 4 times the big blind. I raise here because unless someone has a bigger pair or possibly A,K or A,Q these hands are big hands and you do not want to let someone in cheaply to outdraw.

If someone reraises preflop then you basically have to fold. If the reraise is small you could call and hope to see a flop with under cards to your pair or with no ace. In either of these cases though you will be speaking first and will have to make the first action. If you bet and he raises you would have to fold unless you believe he has missed. If you check he will bet and you have to fold. So it is much better to fold. You could get lucky and make a set on the folding but this is unlikely so folding is much better.

The other option you have preflop is to just limp in. If you do this however you basically have to make a set on the flop or have a flop with all under cards to play on after the flop. This strategy does the advantage that if you get raised preflop or miss on the flop you can fold the hand and only lose a minimum amount of chips.

Middle Position:

The decision set is basically the same as from early position. If no one has entered the flop I would definitely raise here as you do not want to be playing with just the blinds and there 2 random cards.

If there has been a raise in front of you it is generally better to fold. You could flat call if you want because you have position on the raiser, however if more people enter the flop or if the flop is ugly you might lose more money then you want with a losing hand.

If there is already limpers in the pot then you have a tough decision. You could just limp in and hope to hit the flop or you could raise. I do not like raising here unless you feel the limpers are going to fold because if they call or if someone was slow playing A,A or the like an reraise you are in all sorts of trouble. They I recommend limping in with them here.

Late Position:

If there is only raise in front of you it is best to fold and he probably has a stronger hand then you anyway. If they is a raise and a few calls you could call the bet, but if you do and you do not make a set then you better fold. If the flop comes as all under cards play with caution as more then likely someone will have a bigger pocket pair then you.
If there are already limpers in the pot it is better to limp in with them (read above to see why).
If no one has entered the pot you should definitely raise here to steal the blinds and not let the blinds in cheaply. You do not have a strong enough to limp here.

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