I can write a book on Texas Hold’em. However, even though I have played professionally for 3 years, I can’t write a better book than Doyle Brunson, who has one heck of a lot more experience and success that I will ever have. So I won’t waste my time or yours. I can take some specific details and write a more detailed analysis than you will find in a general How to Win At Hold’em Poker type book. I know this may be of interest only to players who really like Poker and want to excel but I’ll give it a try. My goal is to start with three articles:
1) How To Play Pocket Aces
- 2) How To Play Pocket 9’s
- 3) How To Play Pocket Deuces
That is to say how to play high, medium and low pocket pairs. If this is too detailed start at my more general articles on poker? If you don’t like poker I have a lot of other articles you might relate to better.
This is part 2 or How To Play Pocket Nines.
You are on a nine person table playing no limit Texas Hold’em. You are dealt a pair of pocket nines, a mid ranked first two cards you have some major decisions to make. I have seen people lose a tournament with these two cards but I have also seen people double up with them. The same advice I give here applies to all middle pairs in general from Sevens to jacks. Yes, I consider jacks to be a middle pair. Your position does matter very much as with pocket aces, you are much stronger in a late acting position. However, it is the first round and the position is different in this round than any other round with the big blind acting last in the first round, not the player with the button.
After the first two cards, your hole cards, are dealt and if you act in the last 3 positions, the button or the two blind positions you will have a better ability to knock everyone out with an all in bet. If you knock everyone out you steal the blinds. However, if this doesn’t succeed you may be in for a world of financial hurt. If you have one caller you have at best a coin flip chance to win. If that other player has an over pair or if two or more players call you, your chances become slim. You are just not the favorite over the entire field and become the big dog. I just do not recommend an all in bet with a middle pair. There are two exceptions. If you are the short stack or you can get a very certain read that everyone else is so weak that they will fold, go all in. In the first exception you face a big risk for a big gain. If you don’t take a stand you will be blinded out of the tournament, a disgraceful way to go. People who are blinded out of a tournament do not have what it takes to play winning poker, not in my opinion. The second exception really depends on your skill on reading people. If you are not great at this, forget it as there is too much risk of a trap back in the pack. The average winning hand on a nine player Hold’em table is a high three of a kind so don’t over play a pair of nines.
You are even in worse shape if you bet all in with nines in an early position. You might as well play the slot machines. At least they won’t laugh at you.
A second strategy is to slow play the nines to try to maximize the size of the pot should a set of nines fall for you on the flop. I have said in other articles that the object of poker is to win the most money, not the most number of hands. So why not do this? Set a trap, run up the pot and reap the rewards if you get lucky. The answer is that the more people who are allowed to stay in the pot and draw cheaply, the better are their chances of drawing out on you. That just is too much risk. I advise against it. It is your money though.
The final strategy is a raise with the nines equal to say 3 or 4 times the big blind. You would do this in any position unless there are big raises in front of you. One big raise most probably means the player has two over cards, say ace/queen. A second raise in front of you should get you thinking that they may have a higher pair in the hole than your nines. If the raises are moderate and if you have a relatively big stack, you might still stay in for the flop. However, one more bump and you should fold. You should also fold if one of the two raisers is a tight player. Some people will play that pair as if married to it. Don’t do that. It is only one pair, a medium one at that. Play it as such. If you flop a set though, you will be in a great position for a big bet on the fourth and fifth streets, otherwise fold like a contortionist. When I say bet big I mean Big! You don’t want four flushes and open ended straights to have the opportunity of drawing out on you cheaply. That is unless there is also a pair on board giving you a full house and you intend a really big raise on fifth street.
With pocket nines stay in for the flop if it is cheap. Don’t limp in, since you are telling any good player what you have. Play your hand according to what the flop brings. Get out as soon as it looks like you are not in control.
Good luck and I hope this helps. Let me know if you can think of a better strategy because I want to win more money as well.