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Consider you have a made hand like a pocket pair, or a good preflop draw like two suited cards, would it be good to play aggressive, even go all-in, if you have i) a low stack, ii) a medium stack, or iii) a high stack preflop? And what you think about cards like 99 preflop? Are they good? For example if you go all-in, you have good odds of hitting something to improve, considering there are still 5 card to come.

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    What do you play? playing 99 can differ if you're early stages MTT or playing cash-game fullring. – user1165 Jan 11 '15 at 16:28
  • Just cash-game, in real-life on a table with say 5-7 opponents. – StefanH Jan 11 '15 at 16:31
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This is a general question about specific hands, so my answer depends on my general style. Also about stacks, there's no small or medium on cash games. In fact, you should enable the auto reload feature to always refill your stack to 100 BB so you can never be short stack. If you don't do this, then you're not play optimal from the very start, regardless the cards. (unless you're playing some short-stacking strategy)

Pairs 22-66

These hands have little post-flop value; they're played mostly for set mining; If you don't hit your set and the board looks like A♥T⋄3⋄ you may fire a Cbet but you're mostly done with these hands after this.

Pairs 77-99

These are the medium pairs; these can be also played as the above small pairs, but they can be played more aggressively. They have also a showdown value since you can beat 8 pair types hands (22-88) and they can be over-pairs to lot of flops. In flops like A♥5♠8♣ i definitely CBet and depending on Turn card i might bet again. A guy without A but an 8 is going to fold most of the times to second barrel. Also players with 22-77 are going to fold big time with second barrel. But if Turn comes like T♥ or K♣ i'm going to shut down to keep the pot small and don't force a fold with a re-raise since my hand has a showdown value.

About all-in, is never going to be good to shove with a 99. It may work one time or two but after people get a read on you, you'll be in great trouble. On cash games you rarely have all-ins preflop, even in microstakes, unless your opponent have AA/KK and there were 3-bet & 4-bets preflop. This is no tournament, people care a lot more with their money and they're going to call you with hands like K♥K♠ to pull you down to earth.

For example if you go all-in, you have good odds of hitting something to improve, considering there are still 5 card to come.

You have around 12% to hit a set on flop if you hold 99. This is required if the other guy called your all-in with, say, A⋄J♠ and hit another A on the flop. Heck, even a J beats your hand then. Conclusion: You need a pretty high pair to even start thinking about all-in but do a favor, play real poker post-flop.

There are people that running tracking software all-the-time against you and if they find out that you shove 99 then hands like KQ,KJ,KT,QT,QJ,JT,AK,AQ,AJ,AT have around 45% to beat you. You would be better if you play cautiously these hands.

About suited cards. If you have say A♣T♣ preflop then you have a decent hand but definitely not a shoving hand. You want to see the flop to get a flush draw or an ace. If you get 9⋄2⋄ you want to throw your hand, unless you're in SB and complete. Low suited cards are going to be bad for your bankroll. Play only high suited cards; personally i only play hands like A9s,KJs,QJs, etc. close to nuts (ace) or suited connectors.

  • Thanks, very good answer. I looked up every technical term, but the phrase "folding big-time", does it mean anything specific other then just folding? – StefanH Jan 12 '15 at 17:18
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    @Stefan, tx. That phrase are going to fold big time merely means are going to fold enough times to make the 2nd barrel profitable eg. they're going to fold many times. Few players dare to take a peek with just a pair after 2 bets; they usually are 1) high stakes players 2) calling stations. You need to worry only for calling stations, the ones who likes to call with even the slightest of hands ;) – user1165 Jan 12 '15 at 20:45
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    @Stefan, additionally note i'm talking about 22-77 that would fold enough since the flop contain 2 higher cards than their pair. People tend to fold much easier when facing a bet and their pair is owned by 2 higher and dangerous cards on flop as are A and T. – user1165 Jan 12 '15 at 21:02
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Be very, very careful with overly aggressive play and all-ins in the manner you describe. Two primary things jump out at me from your question:

  1. For most of the hands you mentioned, you must, must get multi-way action. All of the hands you mention need a lot of pre-flop odds and implied odds for you to make the profitable over the long term. It's ironic in poker, but you want AA against few opponents and something like 78s against multiple opponents. It's crazy, but its the only way these hands work out in the long run.
  2. Do not make your opponents play perfect poker against you! This is a difficult concept and one that I struggle with myself. When you are overly aggressive you force your opponents to play perfect poker and not make mistakes. That is not the point of poker! The point of poker is to cause your opponents to make mistakes against you!

So lets take that example of you with 99; if you are overly aggressive with this (and/or shove) what hands are calling you? You're basically forcing cards that beat you (and only those hands) to stay in the hand. This is highly problematic because (1) you will get called very infrequently which means that you got no value out of a pocket pair and (2) when you do get called it will only be by monster hands like KK and AA. You give your opponents no choice other than to wait until they have you dominated and that's not good.

  • Thank you, insightful points! AA against few opponents, cause you do not want weak hands to hit something and make sure you win, and 78 against multiple opponents do get good pot odds or implied pot odds. – StefanH Jan 12 '15 at 17:22
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It depends on the type of the game, your position and stack. If it's cash game, you may want to play any pocket pair to hit the set on the flop. I would still throw away the small pairs preflop, if someone raises much (again - depending on your stack and who's raising). If you have a middle pair - it's worth raising preflop, however if you have small stack - then push or fold. I would push, if you have 1-2 opponents, or fold if there are many players in hand after you.

It's important to remember, that a small or middle pair looks nice, but is dominated by almost any good hand. Like if you have 88 and your opponent calls with QJ, you are ahead, but he has plenty of outs. You may not want to risk it all with a small stack.

In a tournament I would limp or fold small and middle pairs and play 99+ aggressively. If you don't hit the set and see overcards on the board, be patient and fold, if someone is betting much or raising you.

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