King pairs can be a good hand to play in Texas Hold Em. It’s definitely one of the best kept secrets for sure.
I guess you saw King Queen last week, or maybe you’ve been seeing KQ etc. I didn’t mention them in my last post because I wanted to focus on more important things. But it’s definitely a hand you can get a hold of, and you can outplay just about anyone on the table – if you know what to do.
I played against a guy yesterday who called my bets 3 times the big blind with KQ. Today I’d like to explain why playing cards like KQ is such a strong hand.
First of all, a pair of kings is the third best possible starting hand in ten-handed games. If you don’t know the difference between big and small blinds, let me explain. In a ten-handed game, you should play your best hand pre-flop about 75% of the time, regardless of your cards. Play the lowest pair you feel comfortable in post-flop. Let’s say you have a pair of 2s. Pre-flop, you should raise with it 85% of the time, no matter what happened on the flop. In a six-handed table, you should only limp in with these hands about 60% of the time.
Why? At a ten-handed table you can’t afford many unnecessary calls. You, of course, will play some hands more than others, but in general you want to be very selective. If you call a raise with a hand like QQ, there’s a good chance you will be up against a better hand. And if you’re up against someone who calls your bets with AA, as in the example above, you’re probably drawing dead.
Knowing when to play and when to lay down a hand like KQ is a very important part of playing good poker. You should be getting into a hand only when you have a good chance of driving it home.
But what do you do when you have a tough decision? Well, I hope you aren’t just going to call all the way down with KQ. You need to have a read on your opponents. Maybe they play pocket aces today. Not a very good read. If you’re at a table full of limpers, the odds go up that someone’s limping with a big hand. Is that necessarily a bad thing? Sometimes a player’s aggression needs to be reviewed.
But the real point is that you can’t just assumes your good hand is strong just because you’ve seen it win before. It’s kind of a plethora of hands. You have to evaluate your position, your opponent, and the board in order to make that call.
Sometimes KQ is good. It’s good against a lot of different hands. But if you see a raise coming from a tight player in the blinds, and you have a good read on him, you shouldn’t be including him in your pot odds. Call instead. Because if you let him see a free card, you’re bound to lose.
When you have a good read on an opponent though, you can push them around. You’ll get more money if they call and you get to pick the MPO500. And the only way you can pick pockets is to make a big pre-flop raise. All the money that leaves the table will not be in your pocket but out of the game. You have to be smarter.
In conclusion, the ten-spot is something of an exaggeration. You won’t get dealt pocket rockets every hand, and you’re not going to Sea Wolf them easy. But with the right strategic play, you can take the pots where they float, and tools like the ten-spot become misleading rather than indicators of probability.
Even preflop you can simplify the decision making process. You don’t want to challenge yourself too much, but at the same time, the decision making process is fairly simple: push or fold. If you feel like your hand is vulnerable you should probably fold preflop, but unless you have a strong hand you want to get some money in with a weak hand, like KQ suited or garbage like that. You want to retain your stack as large as possible for future hands.
In summation, pocket pairs are probably the easiest hands to make, but even the sturdiest pocket pairs will break down into a lot of separate hands if played incorrectly. You can control the hands quite a bit preflop, but you have to be willing to let your opponent get a read on your style. Too many people try to play too tightly and that costs them a lot of pots.