If you are staring at a pair but it is not your chance to open the pot should you call? If you are staring at a pair of nines for example.

What is some common rules of thumbs for being risk averse when you are not asked to open?

  • 1
    What type of game is this?
    – Toby Booth
    Apr 17, 2016 at 23:48
  • Hold'em cash game
    – Neil Meyer
    Apr 18, 2016 at 10:15
  • 1
    No limit? Fixed limit? Use more tags to categorise the question, it'll make it easier to find, thanks.
    – Toby Booth
    Apr 18, 2016 at 10:20

1 Answer 1


Your money already in the pot is water under the bridge. But when you put the money in the pot consider there will likely be future bets to call.

You have to consider:

  • Position(s) that put money in

  • Size of the bet(s)

  • Player(s) range from that position

  • Player(s) stack size

  • If you are calling from anything but the blinds then you have position

You are only a dog to over-pairs (about 4:1)
You are close to even money to two over cards

If someone enters from middle that is not just a rock (tight) then I would call or even raise if they just called.

If someone enters from early position that is tight then you are likely a dog or at best close to even money if they will play AK. So you should not play 99. You should not even play QQ against a tight player from early position. You need to learn their range from position.

You are 8:1 to hit trips on the flop and if they have a big stack and you think you can get them to bet/call if you hit then go for it.

If they limp you are getting 5:2 (as sb and bb are in)
If they have an over-pair (4:1) then you are not getting even close pot odds

If they raise to 3 bb then you are getting 3:2 (assuming no one else calls)
You can call two overs but no where near pot odds to call an over-pair

From the BB you have to play out of position but your pots odds change
If they raise to 3 bb then you are getting 9:4
Still not getting pot odds for an over pair but if they entered from mid position then call (or maybe ever raise)
From late position then raise - heads up 99 alone is likely to win
Even if you need to hit the set what is the EV
fb is future bets and is not discounted by 1/8 as if you don't hit you shut down fb to call - what is break even
EV = -4 + 1/8(13) + fb = 0 4 - 13/8 = fb = 2.4
You only a need bet of 1/4 the pot called to get paid off IF you hit the set (and it holds up)
A c bet pays you off
But a set does not always win

If you have a 3 bb raise and a call in front from the bb you are getting 15:4 Against 2 you probably need to catch a set (8:1) on the flop or shut down. But you are likely to get sufficiently paid off.
EV = -4 + 1/8(19) + fb
0 = -4 + 1/8(19) + fb
4 - 19/8 = fb = 1.6
You only need a min bet called (and a set of 9s to hold up) to get paid off

You will see pros play pairs more as they need to be tricky to take down a pro. A pair of 5s might call an early standard raise if you both have a decent size stack behind (like 4-6+ times the size of the bet you are calling).

I got beat up before for answering I will not even lead out from early position with 99. It is a great hand if you hit (8:1) but even if you hit then it is hard to get paid out when out of position.

I think this is a good chart Starting hands guide
As you can see 99 is kind of on the cusp
This guide is not limited to just beginners
This is about same chart as Phil Gordon from Little Green book

Does not really change my answer but if a person only plays AA, KK, or AK then they are more likely on AK than AA plus KK combined. There are 6 ways to make AA, 6 ways to make KK, and 16 ways to make AK.

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