When Do You Call a Preflop Raiser When you Have a Small Pocket Pair In No-Limit Hold'em?
© 2017 by M. Mitch Freeland
I like to follow a simple rule of thumb when flat calling a preflop raiser with a small pocket pair, 22-77.
Calling or reraising depends on your opponent's style and how much you know about the player. But let us say that you are not very familiar with your opponent's playing habits. When there is a raise preflop and when you look down at your hand and see a small pair what do you do? First of all, we know that a small pair can be either a very slight favorite (1%-3%) against two over cards, or a big underdog against an over pair. But you could also be a large favorite if your opponent has a smaller pocket pair than yours. Nonetheless, I do not like the idea or risking money in situations that are usually not in my favor or a race. I need to know that I am getting good odds for my money. So what do I do? I will call a preflop raise when my opponent has at least 20 times his raise in his stacks. The implied odds have to be right for me to call. Since I am looking to flop a set with my small pair, I need to know that there is a chance that if my perfect card comes on the flop, I will have an opportunity to get all of my opponents chips. Since I will flop a set about 11.8% of the time when I hold a pocket pair, I need to get greater implied odds from my opponent.
Here is an example from a small stakes $1-$2 No-Limit game:
I have $200 in front of me. I am in middle position. A player on my right is the first in with a raise to $5. He has a $60 stack. His stack is only 12 times the $5 raise. If I hit the flop with my perfect card for a set, and I am lucky enough to get all of my opponents $40 stack, my call is basically a breakeven, since my odds of flopping a set is nearly 12% of the time.
Now, let's say my opponent has $120 stack. He raises to $5. Now if I get my set on the flop I have a chance to get $120 from him. This is 24 times his raise. If my opponent has a high pocket pair or two broardway cards and makes top pair, there is a good chance I will get his stack, provided I have at least a stack of $120. My implied odds are strong.
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