When you flop two pair in no limit hold’em, usually the biggest problem you will face is how to get the most chips in the middle. Unfortunately in 6+, not only is your opponent more likely to flop sets and straights against you, but with equities running much closer, even if you have the best hand, your opponent will have more outs to catch on turns and rivers.
Let’s have a more in-depth look at some spots, that occur frequently:
Scenario 1: 6-handed, everyone has 100a
UTG fold, UTG+1 folds, MP limps, Hero limps HJ, CO limps, BTN checks, 4 people to the flop
Flop : J♣9♦7♥
MP bets half pot, Hero ?
We got two pair on a rainbow flop and the MPs sizing isn’t too big. Someone who just switched from no limit hold’em to 6+ might be happy to call here or even raise before we see any scary turns like 8,10, Q etc.
The truth is, especially with two players behind us left to act, it’s an easy fold. Not only is MP showing strength by leading into three opponents, but since CO and BTN were in late position, they can have almost any two cards when they limp in, so they have all the straights and better two pair combinations. If Hero was on the BTN and everyone folds to us we should be calling (especially since MP usually won’t have T8o), but even against his range with all T8o removed, we don’t look that great.
As we can see, even if we remove all T8o hands and add some loose c-bets with hands like AA, KK, KJ, which would often check and be careful on this board, we only have 50.42% equity. We do have position, so we should call here, but be prepared that we might have to turn our hand into a bluff on certain runouts.
So does that mean that we should usually be folding two pair on the flop? No, just that we need to be careful and consider our opponent’s ranges. Let’s look at a scenario where we are in better shape.
Scenario 2: 6-handed, UTG (100a) limps, UTG+1 (100a) limps, everyone folds to Hero on the BTN with 50 ante stack. We check with 8♥9♦.
Flop is 6♦8♣9♠ rainbow.
UTG leads for half pot, UTG+1 calls, Hero ?
This looks like a similar spot. Two pair with a possible straight out there, but if we look more closely, this is a much better spot for us for two reasons – our stack size and our range advantage. UTG position has the lowest VPIP, so we can safely remove A7o and T7o. Same goes for UTG+1. Of course, a recreational player might always play T7o, perhaps that’s his lucky hand. Generally though, UTG and UTG+1 won’t have many straights here, especially after UTG+1 just calls. Our hand is also blocking sets, so their range is going to be pocket pairs, JT, T9 etc.
So what’s our play here when we have 50 antes? It’s an easy allin. UTG might fold hands that do ok against our hand (TT, JT, JJ,77 etc), because while he might be okay with getting it in against us, he has to be a little careful considering UTG+1 might also call. So in this scenario we will often take down a 15 ante pot when both opponents fold (a 30% increase to our stack without being allin), and if we do get called, we will rarely be dominated.
- Play cautiously with bottom two pair, especially on a very draw heavy board where our opponent could have a better made hand e.g. straight or a strong draw that is doing very well against us.
- There are situations where you should fold bottom two pair on the flop to a single bet, if you have players behind you, who could dominate your two pair or flopped a straight.
- Pay attention to the stacksize and board structure. You can much more likely stack off with 50 ante on a board that doesn’t hit villain’s range and also puts other players with deeper stack sizes at risk, such as multiway spots with more players involved on the flop.
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